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Location: Washington, DC

CAFTA -- (House of Representatives - June 13, 2005)


Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the able Member the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Brown) for spearheading this Special Order this evening and for the great work he always does, and the gentleman from Youngstown, Ohio, and the surrounding areas, for being so much a part of our efforts to change America's trade policy so it again works for America's communities, America's workers and America's farmers.

If you loved NAFTA, you are going to love CAFTA, and I cannot think of a single American that really loves NAFTA, because we have lost so many jobs, nearly 1 million jobs, since that agreement was passed in 1993.

It is really amazing to me to think about everything that is needed in this country and what the Bush administration is trying to push through this Congress. Just look at rising gas prices. Is this administration and Congress really trying to do anything to help America become energy-independent again? No, not really. We continue to become more dependent on imported petroleum than before this administration took office.

All of our pension funds are underfunded. The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, which is supposed to undergird all of our Nation's pension funds in private industry, needs over $23 billion to try to restore just the current needs in that bill. Are we getting a bill to fully fund the Nation's pension guarantee fund? No. The bill is not coming up here on that.

What about Social Security? Well, their answer is privatize it. Try to divert money from the regular trust fund, rather than finding a way to make sure that Social Security is healthy long term.

Health care, is anything really being done to insure America's families and to try to take care of all those in our nursing homes who do not have enough nurses at bedside? No, that bill is not coming up here.

Or veterans, to make sure we have enough money in the accounts of this country to take care of all the disabled veterans returning home? We see our Family Assistance Centers having to raise money to buy special access ramps to people's houses and to try to take care of families because we lack TRICARE when our veterans come home. No, we are not getting a bill to do anything about that.

What we are getting is we are getting a bill that would expand NAFTA to include five more countries, actually six more countries if you count the Dominican Republic. What it would do is add over 50 million more people into this NAFTA union, people who have hands to do work, but who through that work cannot really increase their own standard of living, as the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Brown) has said, who could buy the goods that are made in this country, because they do not earn enough to afford them. But it would add 50 million more people to this trade effort.

That means that our jobs, as happened with NAFTA, would continue to be outsourced, shipped out, even in greater quantity than they already are, to Guatemala, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, all these places so very far from home, and more of our agricultural production as well.

So we are literally being asked in this agreement to add a State the size of California, 50 million people, or four States the size of Ohio, actually five Ohios, if you look at the population of the countries that they are trying to add to this DR-CAFTA agreement, add that many more people to our union and then say it is all going to work.

This is an example of what has happened since NAFTA was passed back in the early 1990s and what has happened to our trade deficit, if you add NAFTA, if you add the special agreement with China and all these other trade agreements. We have fallen every year into deeper and deeper and deeper deficit. We are now over half a trillion dollars a year more goods coming into this country than exports going out.

I just wanted to place the record as I begin my comments this evening that in the last official count in March-April of this year, the overall U.S. trade deficit in goods and services rose another 6.34 percent from March to April, climbing from $53.6 billion to $57 billion overall, on top of all of the deficit we already had from last year, and this represents the fourth highest combined monthly deficit on record for our whole country.

The deficit with Mexico in that period of time rose to $4.4 billion, up another 3.29 percent, and the deficit with Canada rose to $5.4 billion, just for that month, another 8.9 percent increase.

If I could just demonstrate these other two charts as I begin this evening, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Brown) referenced the trade deficits in various countries.

With Canada, since NAFTA was signed, the proponents said, just like they are saying now, if we sign this agreement, we are going to have all the trade. Except it is modeled after the NAFTA accord. And after we signed NAFTA with Canada, though we already had a deficit with NAFTA, after the signing of NAFTA it just went deeper and deeper to where it doubled and tripled, more production in Canada than here in the United States. With Mexico, the very same pattern.

This type of accord provides America with lost jobs, lost income, more imports coming in here than exports going out. With Mexico when NAFTA was signed, we actually had a little trade surplus with Mexico. We have fallen into heavy, heavy deficit, now nearly $50 billion a year in the hole with Mexico.

Finally, before I yield back the time the gentleman was kind enough to give me, we already have today a $1.9 billion deficit in goods with these nations already. All CAFTA is going to do is push those numbers further down, which means more lost jobs in Ohio, more workers who cannot afford to own their home, these increasing bankruptcies we see across our country, and the same-old-same-old being thrust upon the American people voted on here in this Congress by some of the most powerful economic interests on the face of the globe.

So I am very thankful that the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Solis) was speaking earlier this evening, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Gene Green), now the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Brown), the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Ryan), to talk about, you know what, it is time to draw a line in the sand and say if an agreement has been out of whack, seriously in deficit for more than 3 years, it ought to be renegotiated, and we should not add any more pain to the American economy than we already have.

I want to thank the gentleman for allowing me to speak this evening.


Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, people in our country intuitively know something is wrong. They go to the store and they try to buy something and they see "made in China," or they see "assembled in Mexico." And they also know that the quality of production is going down, that the metals that are used are not as good as they used to be; that the clothing is comprised of fabrics that do not breath as well and they do not wear as well. People know this.

Shoes. They know that the shoes, most of which are imported now, they are not good quality. There is not rubber on the bottoms anymore on good leather. Now we have these combination fabrics and your feet hurt.

We think about, and at least I, of the three this evening who are talking, am old enough to remember when America made American-made, quality goods. We used to even make American flags. And when they had that rally over here, the Speaker handed out flags made in China.

Mr. Speaker, I can remember an America where there really was an America here, where we really made things, and we were proud of what we made. When you have these kinds of trade deficits that are massive, over a half a trillion dollars a year in deficit, more imports coming in here than exports going out, you are displacing production.

I had an experience this past week in my district where I went through an old power plant, and the innards are being taken out because it is passe, its technology is passe. I said, well, now, where are we sending the copper to be reprocessed and used? They said oh, the copper was bought up by China. I said, oh. Well, what about the turbines? Well, the turbines are going down to Argentina. I said, you mean there is nobody in America that even wants to use the scrap metal?

We look at the prices of steel and, in terms of coking, there are no coking operations here. The Chinese have us around the neck because they have been charging $43 a ton for coke and making steel production so expensive in our country. We are seeing parts of us being dismantled and sent somewhere else.

I was down in North Carolina talking with some of the producers of hogs and turkeys and chickens down there, and the grains, rather than coming from the Midwest, is coming from Argentina delivered at the Port of Wilmington. The farmers in North Carolina and South Carolina want to buy grain from the Midwest, but yet it is coming from Argentina. It is very interesting to think what is happening to our country.

Then, on the side of some of these nations, take the Dominican Republic. We had a couple of young people come to Toledo from the Dominican Republic a couple of years ago from one of our church groups, and they actually worked in a company making apparel; it was a South Korean contractor on contract to the government of the Dominican Republic, and these young women were making T shirts that were to be sold in the United States, all of their production came here. They were paid 12 cents a T-shirt. They worked 14 to 18 hour days, 7 days a week; they had absolutely no say in their company, nothing, forget it. They were just bonded workers. If they spoke up, they were fired. They worked behind barbed wire fences and gates, the plant was inside, it was like a reservation, actually.

When they came to Toledo, we took them to a couple of shopping centers to try to find the shirt that they had made and, sure enough, we did. We found the T shirts hanging on a rack. This young woman, she just went up to it, she pulled it off and then we looked at the price tag. It was $20. I cannot forget her face. She just stood there. She said, you mean in America it is sold for $20 and I earn 12 cents? She could not even, she could not even fathom it.

I said, yes, and let us think about who made the money off the sweat of your brow. This was actually sweat shop goods coming into the United States from the Dominican Republic by way of a special contract signed with the South Korean manufacturer who is doing business and, really, whose practices cannot be monitored well, and these young women were earning nothing.

Now, is that the kind of world that we want to create? We are.

Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, we hear the word "freedom" come out of this Chamber a lot. Is that young girl free? She is trapped. She is an indentured servant just like there has been throughout the history of, many times in this country, and many others. She is not free.

So we use freedom when it is convenient for us, but in the instance where it may hurt some corporation to reduce their profits, freedom does not mean anything.

Ms. KAPTUR. As the gentleman says, it ought to be called not free trade, because it is not free trade. It is not good trade, we know that. It certainly is not positive trade, because all we are yielding are deficits. Maybe we should call it sweat shop trade or indentured trade. There is some other word that should go here.


Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, we may have developed a new word or new phrase. We are advocating for value-centered trade, trade that represents our values and, hopefully, what we are trying to spread around the world, value-centered trade.

Ms. KAPTUR. And part of that I think is the development and sustenance of the middle class.

We know that the workers in these other countries, because of the way the countries operate, are not creating a middle class. They are endowing the very top. In fact, they have a word for this, they call it oligarchies or plutocracies, they are endowing the wealthy, and the vast majority of people are poor. In Mexico, post-NAFTA, more people are poor today than before NAFTA was passed, and many of their small businesses were drummed out of existence, and many of their independent farmers are wandering across North America trying to find even enough to eat.

In our country, we have been druming down the middle class. These other countries do not have a chance to build a middle class. Who is really benefiting off of the pain that is felt by the workers of our country and these other countries? It is very clear. There are a few extraordinarily powerful corporations that are trading workers off against one another.

And we as a Congress have a responsibility to stand for the development of the middle class and trade agreements that sustain the middle class in our country and help these other countries develop economies where their wealth comes from demand-led growth inside their own countries, not exporting everything they make to other places, paying their workers nothing, and then charging us high prices for those goods here in this country.

We do not have that kind of trade regimen. That is why we need to stop CAFTA and go back and renegotiate NAFTA, and any other trade agreement where we have sustained massive deficits over the last 3 years. That ought to be the priority of the President of the United States and of this Congress.


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