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Public Statements

Establishing Emergency Trade Deficit Commission

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DeFAZIO. I thank the chairman.

It's interesting to hear some Republicans on the other side of the aisle say this commission isn't necessary. We are going to run a $700 billion trade deficit this year. That means we will borrow, predominantly from China, Japan, and a few other countries, $700 billion to buy things that we used to make in America. And it's not a level playing field. We get played for a sucker in these trade deals.

We need a new, strong trade policy. Yes, American workers can compete, but not on an unfair, tilted playing field, which is what they're being asked to do today. I will give a couple of examples. When we were doing MFN permanently for China, which I voted against because we lost that annual leverage with them, wheat guys from Oregon came in, and they said, Congressman, right now a ship is going into China. Imagine what it's going to mean for our markets. They're finally accepting our wheat. This new trade deal's going to be great.

I said, Well, actually, I have got translated broadcasts of their agriculture minister that say that they're not going to allow that, and they're not going to become dependent upon imported food. They said, Oh, no, you are wrong. So, yeah, that one ship got in.

Congress voted the deal, China was permanently off the hook to be reviewed for unfair trade practices by the Congress, and, guess what, that was the last ship. They came in the next year kind of hanging their heads and said, You were right. Are you going to say it? I said, No. I am going to say, what are we going to do now? And talked about fighting back against these unfair trade practices.

We can look at just after the first President Bush signed the deal with Canada that was supposed to deal with their unfair subsidies and dumping of cheap lumber into the U.S. But before the ink was even dry on the deal, Canada reclassified much of their lumber to salvage. They basically started giving away their trees on the stump instead of making companies buy them and provided subsidized transportation and other things and again flooded the U.S. market. We're still fighting with the Canadians 17 years later over their subsidized lumber, and we've still lost thousands of jobs.

Yeah, there was a little bit of cheaper lumber available here; but when you lose the jobs for working-class Americans, middle class American families, our consumers, when they lose their jobs, it doesn't matter if a house is maybe $300 or $400 cheaper. They can't afford the house. So we need a level playing field.

We need to identify these barriers that are being put up by the Chinese and others. The Chinese are going to run more than a quarter of a trillion dollar trade surplus with the U.S. this year. They recently passed a law saying they're going to have a huge renewable program in China. And the law says that nobody can buy a renewable windmill or photovoltaic or anything else if it wasn't manufactured in China by a Chinese company.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. LEVIN. I yield an additional 2 minutes to the author of the bill.

Mr. DeFAZIO. I thank the gentleman.

So the Chinese have passed a law saying that no one in China can buy a U.S.-made windmill or photovoltaic. If we get these green jobs and green industry going that the President wants, the Chinese aren't going to buy them. But guess what? The so-called stimulus bill that passed this Congress, part of those funds, our taxpayer dollars, money we borrowed in part from China to finance that bill, were used to buy windmills made in China. They can get their windmills in here like that.

There's a company proposing to assemble photovoltaics in my hometown of Eugene, Oregon. But I also have people in Oregon trying to keep their companies going with made in America photovoltaics. But they are having trouble competing with the subsidized cheap junk from China because their photovoltaics are not very good. Again, we can't send our ours there, but they can send theirs here without any constraints.

I remember back to Lee Iacocca, back when we used to sort of laugh at the Japanese cars. And when he had minivans and the Japanese started producing minivans, he said, You know, I produce a minivan for $16,000. I send it to Japan, it sits on the dock for 6 months while a series of inspectors come down and look at it. And then finally when it gets to the showroom, it costs $30,000 and it's been there 6 months. He said the Japanese take their minivan, it costs $17,000 to make it--they were less efficient then--he said they put it on a ship, it gets to Portland, they roll it off, it's in the showroom the next day. Do we ever reciprocate?

We say, okay, if you are going to keep our cars on your docks for 6 months, how about we're going to keep your cars on our docks for 6 months? And that's what the trade commission will point to. It will point to the unfair trade barriers, these whole series of different phytosanitary, or actually safety inspections, or currency manipulation, all of the things that China and other countries are doing to steal our jobs and kill off our industries. This commission can point to those things, they can emphasize them, and they can propose ways that we can deal with it more meaningfully in trade agreements in the future.

I recommend to my colleagues, help end the trade deficit. Vote for this legislation.


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