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The Economy

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Location: Washington, DC


THE ECONOMY

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Mr. HARE. Thank you, Mr. Michaud. And I want to thank you for your leadership on this whole issue of trade. I was here last week, as you know, and we were talking about the Employee Free Choice Act. And I spoke then as a former labor organizer about the difficulties working men and women have in being able to join the union. Tonight I am here, and I want to tell a brief story, if I could, about what I think this whole trade situation boils down to.

In my district, we have a city called Galesburg, Illinois. It was the home of Maytag, manufacturing washers, driers and refrigerators; 1,600 very talented men and women worked in that factory. On two different occasions, the workers of that plant gave pay concessions back to keep that plant open. The State of Illinois, my home State, gave Maytag $24 million in State taxes for renovations to keep the factory there. The plant, about 8 months later, announced that it was moving to Sonora, Mexico.

The CEO said it was because of several things, but the bottom line was they could make more money manufacturing in Sonora, Mexico, for cheap labor. And 1,600 of those people are out of work, and 1,000 more recently followed a few weeks later in Herron, Illinois, from another Maytag facility. And the CEO of that corporation said, ``You just have to understand, Congressman, I am in the business to make money for my shareholders. I don't really care about the people of this city and the educational system and what happens to them, and the small businesses that feed into Maytag. I am here to make money.'

Well, I am here tonight to say a couple of things on this whole issue of trade. First, let me say, I said this on the campaign trail, Congressman. I am a card-carrying capitalist; I believe in trade. We have to have trade. I am not a protectionist, an isolationist. But I do know this. As my colleague, Representative Kagen, said, we have to have some fair trade.

Under this NAFTA agreement, it was tough enough to lose those jobs, but we negotiated that; we, meaning our trade folks, negotiated a 5-year head start for those Maytag jobs in Mexico, gave the Mexican government a 5-year head start on refrigerator products. Now, how are you going to compete?

I went to an editorial board, and I remember saying to the publisher of the newspaper, if your competitor across the river had a 5-year head start on subscriptions and advertising and being able to get the news out each and every day, and you could not publish for 5 years, do you think you would be at a distinct disadvantage? He said, ``Absolutely.'

So here is what I think we need to do, in plain and simple language from a former clothing worker: I think we have to stop this exportation of manufacturing jobs across this country. And we have to be not just angry about it; we have to say: I am more than angry. I am now going to do something that we haven't done before. I am going to raise my voice and I am going to tell my elected Members of the Congress of the United States that if you vote to send our jobs overseas, we are going to vote to send you back to your district permanently, because in this business, we are supposed to be here to represent people.

The job of a Member of the United States Congress, to me, is standing up for ordinary people, and I am tired of seeing our jobs shipped overseas. And, more importantly, the American people hopefully watching and listening tonight are tired of their tax dollars being spent to subsidize those jobs being sent to Sonora, Mexico, where, by the way, the people down there have no trade unions, don't have enough money to even purchase the products that they are making. And I believe that all of us, whether you are a Republican or Democrat or Independent, have seen the hemorrhaging.

In textile, in my industry, thousands of jobs are gone, not because people couldn't do it, but because they can't compete against 18 cents an hour. It is impossible. Not simply because these people were getting benefits and other things that they desperately needed so they can do like I did and buy a home and put their kids through school and go to college and do the right thing; these are veterans of our country who have fought and defended it. They come back and had a job that was taken away from them, not because of anything they did wrong.

So here is what I propose: How about a little corporate responsibility? But how about, let's tell our trade negotiators that we want trade, but let's make it fair and free? Let us don't negotiate our manufacturing jobs overseas. And, by the way, let me just say, I have a lot of agriculture in my district, and farmers are the last group brought to bear on the trade negotiations.

They are never brought to the table. I think we have to have, as Representative Kagen said, an administration and a Congress that says to the trade negotiators, look, we want trade; we want to be able to negotiate a decent standard of trade for our folks. But we will not do it by simply abdicating our manufacturing base, whether it is in steel or textile or automobiles, whatever it is, because there are hundreds of thousands of people in this country, and not every one of them is going to sit behind a computer terminal the rest of their life and work. They want to be welders. They want to produce steel. They want to produce automobiles. They want to cut men's suits like I am wearing tonight that, by the way, was made in Chicago, Illinois, by working men and women.

So I would just encourage everybody this evening as we have this debate on trade that, from my perspective, I ran on this issue, and I am going to be a Congressman on this issue. I am not going to vote for a trade deal that is going to send one more job overseas. I am not going to vote for a trade deal that abdicates the responsibility, and to go back to my district and as some people say, well, you know, we are in a global economy. It is high tech. Well, I understand I am in a global economy. I wasn't born yesterday. But I also know, to those men and women from Maytag that don't know what they are going to do for their health care now that it is gone, for health care, their pensions that are on the line that they are losing, those people from KSIH that lost their jobs simply because they happen to be a union plan and maybe made a bit too much money; I say to those folks that, today, this Congress needs to stand up for working men and women. It needs to say we want trade in this country. We will work very hard to make sure that we have the ability to export our products, but at the same time, the one product that we are no longer going to export in this country is the men and women and their futures and their children, because there is no place for that in fair and free trade.

With that, I just want to thank the gentleman for allowing me to speak this evening for a few moments on this issue. I believe very deeply in this. The great news about being a freshman is sometimes we don't come with the best prepared speeches. I think we speak a lot from the heart. But I can tell you this much, from a former clothing perspective, in our union, there is a movie called, ``The Inheritance,' that talks about how the union was formed. And at the very end of it, a little old man looks into the end, and I would say to our friends on the other side of the aisle who don't want to work with us on this straight policy, he says, ``You think this is the end? My friend, this is only the beginning.'

This 1-hour tonight is the beginning of changing trade policy in this country and in this Chamber. And I am honored to be part of it.

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