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Trade Policy is Creating a Crisis

Location: Washington, DC

TRADE POLICY IS CREATING A CRISIS -- (House of Representatives - April 10, 2008)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. DeFAZIO. Madam Speaker, today, for the first time in 4 decades, the House of Representatives stood up against yet another bad trade agreement. Our trade policy is creating a crisis. It's eroding the incomes of the middle class. We're losing our manufacturing base in this country. We're borrowing $2 billion a day from overseas making us vulnerable to countries like China and others who do not have our best interests in mind as they amount huge piles of our dollars because of the trade deficit.

Now, all the pointy-headed economists out there, they have a theory. The theory is when your dollar or your currency declines, at some point you kind of get to a point where your idled capacity ramps up, your goods become less expensive, and the world begins to buy your goods and your trade deficit goes away.

I confronted an economist over that vision a couple of years ago, and I said, well, that was an interesting theory, you know, 50 years ago. Maybe it even worked.

But what I said to him was what happens to the country that doesn't make anything anymore? Doesn't that mean, in fact, as your currency drops, you're still addicted to buying the goods made overseas or you're just not going to have those goods because you don't make them in the U.S. anymore?

There is no idle capacity to ramp up. Our companies of wholesale exported their manufacturing capacity to Mexico and China in the chase for ever cheaper, more exploitable labor around the world which has been encouraged by our trade agreements. Every other nation on earth has a trade policy to take care of the people of their own country. The United States has a trade policy to take care of the corporate elite in the United States of America and to heck with the rest of our country or even national security.

So why do I come to the floor today to talk about this? Two things: One is because we finally stood up against the free trade agreement and the fast-track gimmick that has jammed those things through time and time and time again. The President negotiated it in secret. You, Congress, you can't mess that up. We will lose respect around the world. You're just gonna take it. You can't amend it. And we'll fix it later. And later never comes.

But the second reason I come to the floor is because today, to the great surprise of those pointy-headed economists, our trade deficit got bigger even though we're in a recession and the dollar is dropping like a rock toward the value of a rupee, which it will soon achieve if we don't do something to turn the tide.

So our trade deficit grew 5.7 percent to $62.3 billion. We could be headed for a record trade deficit. Now why's that? Because those same goods that we don't make here anymore are more expensive now because we're still buying them with a depreciated dollar.

Of course, the nightmare scenario is the day when oil becomes denominated in somebody else's currency and countries refuse to take our currency and refuse to continue to lend us $2 billion a day. And that day of reckoning may not be far off.

It's time for a new trade policy in America, one that brings and keeps high-value jobs here at home and gives us a future as a great power and a manufacturing power, not as a has-been.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Jones) is recognized for 5 minutes.

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