Ms. BALDWIN. Madam Speaker, I rise today in opposition to this free trade agreement with Panama and to the two others that we are considering this week with South Korea and Colombia.
Trade agreements should be in the best interests of our Nation and its people, but sadly this has not been the case with the past free trade agreements. Have some of our wealthiest corporations profited from them? Indeed. But the rest of America, especially the middle class, has struggled with job loss, closed factories, and economic and emotional anguish across the country.
I hear from Wisconsin families every day that are struggling mightily, struggling to pay the mortgage, put food on the table, and send their kids to college, especially during these uncertain economic times. The solution is to put our people back to work and preserve American jobs.
When done right, trade agreements can help bolster our manufacturing and high-skilled technology industries and create jobs as they increase exports and help our economy recover. Done wrong, trade agreements send these same jobs offshore, leaving Americans out of work. Unfortunately, I believe these trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia will exacerbate the U.S. trade deficit and further erode our manufacturing base.