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Trade Policy That Creates Jobs In America

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DeFAZIO. Well, at last, it's been a long year. The House this week is finally getting around to considering legislation to create jobs. You have got to admit, their objective, and the dream of Grover Norquist, of delivering a government so small that you can drown it in a bathtub has kind of a depressive effect on investment in the economy.

Cutting investment in education has lost jobs; it hasn't created jobs. Cutting investment in infrastructure--28 percent unemployment in construction, allied trades, small businesses that provide the work and the equipment, which are all private sector jobs--is not too good. So their pursuit of these goals so far this year has had a bit of a depressive and negative effect on the economy.

But to congratulate the Republican leaders, finally they've turned to creating jobs this week. Three trade agreements. Now, these are kind of musty, dusty trade agreements. They were negotiated by the Bush administration. Unfortunately, they have been adopted by the Obama administration. Nothing ever changes down at the Trade Representative's office. It doesn't matter who's in charge--Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Barack Obama. People in the Trade Office push the same policies. So these are job-creating trade agreements. Congratulations. We're building upon the success of the past. NAFTA, great success. The WTO, great success. Job creation. Phenomenal job creation. The only problem is the jobs are being created in foreign nations because of our failed trade policies in this country. We are hemorrhaging jobs.

This is the record over a decade:

We lost 15 factories a day--15. Now, some of them were kind of small, local small businesses, but Republicans love to talk about their advocacy for small business. Fifteen a day for 10 years, that's our current trade policy. So what else? Well, that figures out to about 1,370 manufacturing jobs a day over the last decade.

So, learning from past experience, we are now going to do exactly the same thing yet again. We are going to adopt--I can predict the future. The Republicans will all vote for it and a substantial number of my colleagues, a minority of Democrats, but they'll sign on too, to this false promise of job creation under the guise of free trade.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, for starters, the Korea Free Trade Agreement will cost us 160,000 jobs. Bye-bye to the last vestiges of the auto parts industry. They have little provisions, like 35 percent Korean content requirement, which means they can source all their stuff from China, or maybe even better, North Korea, where they use slave labor. It will be really cheap. And we're going to ask our workers to compete with that. There goes another industry.

Now, Colombia and Panama. Well, EPI estimates they're kind of dinky economies. That will only lose us about 55,000 jobs to start. So, for starters, we're creating a quarter of a million jobs overseas with more failed trade policies.

There are other minor problems. Colombia: they kill labor organizers. But, hey, they promised they won't do that anymore.

Panama: a huge haven for drug smugglers, terrorist money, and others. They launder money, but they promised the Obama administration, even though Bush said they could keep doing it, they promised the Obama administration they won't do it. They will no longer allow people to secret ill-gotten gains in Panama unless it's in their national interest. That's a little bit of a loophole.

So these are a great deal for the American people. How's that? I don't know. Because the special Trade Representative's office, unfortunately, rather meekly and quietly, the President, and the Republican leadership say these are a good deal for the American people because, yes, they will benefit Wall Street and a few multinational corporations. They'll just cost another quarter of a million Americans their jobs.

It's time to put an end to this craziness. I can hope--but it won't happen--that we can stop these trade agreements here this week on the floor and look for a new trade policy, a trade policy that creates and brings jobs home to the United States of America. I thought that's who we were here to represent.

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