Friday, May 20, 2011

Trade Agreement (TAA) Held Hostage for Jobless Benefits

Big push by massive multi-national corporate conglomerates for "Trade Adjustment Assistance" (TAA)

U.S. exports aren't necessarily down because of any "trade imbalance", because U.S. corporations don't have to export their goods and services anymore, they can just export their factories and businesses abroad. 

First, they create the demand by enabling foreign consumers with jobs, then they provide the supply with their locally produced goods and services. 

These corporations need not export anything from the U.S. to points around the globe, but can export goods to us from overseas. Cheaper products made with cheaper labor (and less regulation) to consumers in the U.S.

And they can also pay a lower corporate tax rate to foreign governments, while their employee's wages are also being taxed for the benefit of foreign governments (albeit, with loopholes, these corporations can pay NO taxes at all to the U.S. Treasury for their business in the U.S.) American multi-national corporations have the best of both worlds..."They can have their cake and eat it too."

As the Obama administration indicated its readiness to enter into substantive discussion with Congress with the goal of approving pending "free trade agreements" with Colombia, Korea and Panama, a very wealthy and powerful coalition of business groups sent a letter to President Obama and Congressional leaders in support of an "expanded trade adjustment" which includes assistance for workers dislocated by international trade as part of the package.

While reading this letter (below), please notice all the nuances and vague references (using words like "displaced" instead of  laid-off or fired). Then think about the last 40 years: emerging markets, outsourced jobs, closed factories, high unemployment, urban decay, depressed wages, fewer benefits, reduced worker's rights, union busting, corporate bailouts, collective bargaining eliminated, corporate tax evasion, taxpayer-paid subsidies, record profits, record CEO salaries & bonuses, the Bush tax cuts, the past "free trade agreements" (jobs moved to Mexico, India, China, etc.), the shrinking middle-class, and then finally the Republican/corporate push to kill Medicare & Social Security for American workers when they can no longer work. Then look at the list of signers to this letter. 

May 2, 2011

Dear Mr. President and Congressional Leadership:

We are writing to urge you to support Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

The Trade and American Competitiveness Coalition brings together U.S. business and agriculture enterprises who support domestic and international policies that will enhance U.S. competitiveness to promote economic growth and new jobs and prosperity for America's workers, farmers, consumers, communities and businesses. The Coalition reaffirms American business long standing support for TAA as a central part of America's overall trade agenda.

TAA is as vitally important today as it has been over the years. It helps American businesses get into exporting and is designed to give displaced workers the new skills and resources they need to re-enter the 21st century job market. Accordingly, in addition to moving on the pending trade agreements and trade preferences, we urge Congress and the Administration to find a way forward to ensure that the United States has in place an effective TAA program to support U.S. global economic engagement.

For almost fifty years, TAA has enjoyed bipartisan support as an essential part of American trade policy. In 1962, President Kennedy recognized the link between increased trade and economic growth: Increased economic activity resulting from increased trade can bring a dynamic new era of growth. He also recognized that a national policy to increase trade has costs as well as benefits, and that the country as a whole has a responsibility to share those costs:

[American] workers who suffer damage from increased foreign import competition [should] be assisted in their efforts to adjust to that competition. When consideration of national policy makes it desirable to avoid higher tariffs, those injured by that competition should not be required to bear the full brunt of the impact. Rather, the burden of economic adjustment should be borne in part by the Federal Government.

President Bush echoed this same position almost fifty years later when, in his last State of the Union Address in January 2008, he said: "Trade brings better jobs and better choices and better prices. Yet for some Americans, trade can mean losing a job, and the federal government has a responsibility to help. I ask Congress to reauthorize and reform trade adjustment assistance, so we can help these displaced workers learn new skills and find new jobs."

The Trade and American Competitiveness Coalition supports the work of the Administration and Congress to re-energize America's trade policy. In that effort, we urge the Administration and Congress to find a way forward to ensure that the United States has in place an effective TAA program, as part of America's overall trade agenda, which should also include passage of the three pending trade agreements and renewal of the key trade preference programs for eligible countries.

Signed and supported by:

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

American Farm Bureau Federation 

Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)

Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)

Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)

Business Roundtable (BRT)

Coalition of Service Industries (CSI)

Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S.

Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT)

Fashion Accessories Shippers Association (FASA)

National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC)

National Retail Federation

Tech America


Travel Goods Association (TGA)

U.S. Council for International Business

American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA)

If I were President Obama, I'd tell them all to go take a hike. Didn't they already do enough damage to this country's work force during the last 40 years?

Now these corporations are telling us that American workers need "new job skills" and that they need to be "more mobile", as though the factory workers, assembly-line workers, the packers, the forklift operators, the janitors, and the truck drivers in China (and elsewhere) were more educated, better skilled, and harder-working than Americans. As though it was the American workers' fault for being unemployed when statistics clearly show that there are five jobless Americans for every job available. Just last month McDonalds said it would not be surprised to receive more than 250,000 applications for 62,000 part-time low-paying summer jobs.

But these corporations never say exactly what kind of skills they are supposedly looking for, that American workers are supposedly lacking. Many unemployed Americans went back to re-educate themselves and learn new skills, paying for school tuitions they couldn't afford, only to still find themselves unemployed like so many other newly graduated college kids.

Any time you hear the terms "free trade", "free markets", "emerging markets", "Right to Work", or "globalization"...or the phrases "competition in the global market" or "needs certainty in the marketplace", you KNOW the American worker is getting screwed again. These are code words for "outsource", "mass lay-offs", and "shut downs" for cheaper labor for higher corporate profits and larger CEO salaries. The global market is they themselves, as they are multi-national corporations. There is nothing "free" about "free trade"'s "free labor" they are striving for, as in slavery, or "slave wages". 

Now we have record unemployment, record home foreclosures, record food stamp recipients, and record deficits. No jobs, no tax revenues, and no middle-class. America is quickly becoming a Third World country because of "emerging markets" and "free trade agreements". 

When a corporation lays off a worker for cheaper labor, the terminated employee isn't being "sacrificed" for higher profits, for that would imply that the corporation thought that person had value...but to the corporation, the discarded American worker (if not a consumer), is nothing more than debris.

The result of the myth of "free trade" that has been perpetrated on the American workers for the last 40 years:

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