By Tammy Baldwin
As I travel across Wisconsin, I do a lot of listening and wherever I go, people tell me about the frustration and insecurity they feel. They are frustrated with the 'disconnect' between the debates in Washington and the reality of their lives. Wisconsinites believe Washington just doesn't get it, and they are right.
They also share stories of struggle, and stories of the sacrifices they are making just to get by these days.
I remember the single dad, who shared with me that he is working two jobs now and making less than he did when he only had one job. He used to have a job working at a company that actually made things... things that said, "Made in America." He's seen too many of those jobs go overseas and asks for nothing more than a fairer economy where hard work is rewarded.
For decades, middle class families have felt the pillars of their economic security crumble as well-paying manufacturing jobs have been outsourced to other countries. While Wisconsin manufacturers have downsized or closed their factories because other countries are not playing by the rules, not one of my Republican opponents for U.S. Senate has shown the backbone to fight for our Wisconsin manufacturing economy. Instead, my Republican opponents would all continue to reward corporations that ship jobs overseas with tax breaks.
That is wrong.
Naturally they haven't spoken out about the fact that China is cheating by unfairly subsidizing industries and it is costing Wisconsin jobs. Wisconsin has led the nation in papermaking for more than 50 years and has more jobs in the paper industry than any other state, employing nearly 53,000 workers. Yet none of the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate have spoken out on China's unfair trade practices with regard to the paper industry.
In contrast, I have worked across party lines to introduce and pass bipartisan legislation to take on China's unfair trade practices and strengthen Wisconsin's manufacturing economy by evening the playing field for workers in our state. Together with Fox Valley Congressman Reid Ribble, I introduced the CHEATS Act, which would allow the U.S. to impose countervailing duties on Chinese imports that are heavily subsidized by the Chinese government.
In addition, I put Wisconsin first, sponsored legislation and worked to pass a bipartisan effort to restore expiring trade sanctions designed to protect Wisconsin paper mills and a select group of other American manufacturers hard-hit by inexpensive Chinese imports. And just this month I introduced The PAGE Act (Purchasing American Generates Employment) to promote Wisconsin paper. The "Buy American" legislation would require that any paper products purchased by the federal government must be grown, reprocessed, reused or produced in the U.S.
In Wisconsin, we've always counted on manufacturing as a foundation of our economy and it is a foundation I am committed to strengthening.
In order to move our economic recovery forward we must invest in a "Made in Wisconsin" economy. When we do, we will create jobs, restore the economic security the middle class has lost, and build an economy where hard work is rewarded.