U.S. Trade Agreements Offshore Outsources Jobs so Congress Passes More of Them

We know bad trade deals have cost millions of American jobs. We have a jobs crisis with no growth in site. So, why in God's name would Congress pass more of the same? The South Korean trade deal has been analyzed to lose 159,000 jobs. The Panama trade agreement creates corporate tax havens that will be completely out of reach by the United States. Add in the Columbia trade deal and we've lost 214,000 jobs.

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee held a hearing, aptly titled, Manufacturing in the USA: How U.S. Trade Policy Offshores Jobs. The title says it all, eh? Unfortunately the actual hearing didn't have the right economists who would show amply with statistics and facts, the overall hearing title is oh so true.

Contained within is the obligatory other side of multinational corporations, and the real agenda of this hearing is some token retraining for U.S. workers who will lose their jobs as a result of these bad trade deals.

Workers are not alone in wondering why our government sells us once again down the river on jobs. Small businesses, especially small U.S. manufacturers are asking the same question.

A sizable number of domestic manufacturers, however, have sided against the chamber over Korea. For one, the US Business and Industry Council, an association of small and midsize firms founded in 1933, is strongly opposed to the deal. "We can't imagine that KORUS would serve current US economic interests," says Alan Tonelson, a research fellow with the council.

Ditto Ian Fletcher, senior economist with the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA)—a collection of business, labor, and agriculture interests whose petition against the Korea deal has been signed by scores of companies. He says the pact's boosters willfully ignore how similar agreements have gutted American manufacturing. "They just kind of airbrush it out of the picture and don't talk about it very much," Fletcher says. "Like sex in a Victorian family."

Ian Fletcher really is notes the hypocrisy:

Even the official U.S. International Trade Commission has admitted that KORUS-FTA will cause significant job losses. And not just in the low-end industries we are told are the sole casualties of freer trade: the ITC foresees the electronic equipment manufacturing industry, with average wages of $30.38 in 2008, as a major victim.

Paradoxically, Obama provably knows all this. He campaigned against KORUS-FTA during the 2008 campaign. (It was originally negotiated, but not ratified, by Bush in 2007.) Among other things, Obama said:

I strongly support the inclusion of meaningful, enforceable labor and environmental standards in all trade agreements. As president, I will work to ensure that the U.S. again leads the world in ensuring that consumer products produced across the world are done in a manner that supports workers, not undermines them.

Nice words. Unfortunately, none of them are reflected in KORUS-FTA, which contains no serious new provisions on these issues.

This agreement, like NAFTA, is fundamentally an offshoring agreement. That is, it is about making it easier for U.S.-based multinationals to move production overseas with confidence in the security of their investments in overseas plants. The provisions to protect workers and consumers are unenforceable window dressing. (That’s why they're allowed to be in there.)

As an example of how one-sided the treaty is, consider that it will allow America to export 75,000 cars a year to Korea. This translates to about 800 jobs. Korea's exports of cars to the U.S. in 2009, on the other hand? Over 475,000.

Furthermore, even if the U.S. does get to sell more cars in Korea, American companies will mostly not be making the steel, tires, and other components that go into them, because the agreement allows cars with 65 percent foreign content to be considered American. Worse, it allows goods with as much as 65 percent non-South-Korean content to count as Korean, opening the door not only to North Korean slave labor but to the whole of China.

Even leaving aside trade-balance issues, this agreement is a legal disaster thanks to so-called “investor-state arbitration.” This subjects American democracy to having its laws overruled by foreign judges as interfering with trade. To date under NAFTA, over $326 million in damages has been paid out by governments as a result of challenges to natural resource policies, environmental protection, and health and safety measures.

There about 80 Korean corporations, with about 270 facilities around the U.S., that would thereby acquire the right to challenge our laws.

Public Citizen also is calling Obama out:

By asking Congress to approve three NAFTA-style trade deals signed by former President George Bush, President Barack Obama has completely flip-flopped on his campaign promises to fix America’s failed trade policy and has cast his lot against the majority of the American people who oppose more of these job-killing deals.

At a time of 9 percent unemployment and broad public opposition to more NAFTA-style trade agreements, it’s a fairly shocking shift away from the president’s job-creation message to suddenly call on Congress to pass three old Bush trade deals that the federal government’s own studies say will increase the U.S. trade deficit.

Economy in Crisis highlighted some Senator Casey interview statements:

America’s failed trade policies could result in the loss of almost one-quarter of all American jobs over the next twenty years or so, according to Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).

During an interview with CNBC, Casey said that over the next two decades, up to 40 million American jobs are in danger of being outsourced due to America’s trade policies.

“We’ve already lost over 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2001,” he told CNBC.

“And it’s not just manufacturing jobs that are being offshored – we know that legal services and information service jobs are moving overseas.”

Senator Bernie Sanders also held a hearing on poverty. That is where our U.S. middle class has gone, in part due to globalization, labor arbitrage and a weakening economy due to a never ending increasing trade deficit.

They put together some snippets from the hearing which quote various Republicans in absolute, pure denial on the increasing poverty and despair in America. You must watch this video to see the amazing comments, it's so bad, Rand Paul doesn't even realize he's embarrassing and talking about himself.



The actual point of the hearing is to show poverty is literally giving people a death sentence. People literally cannot afford health care and even food to keep them healthy and alive.

Supposedly the House and Senate will pass these bad trade deals next Wednesday, after U.S. workers get a token of crap called retraining after their job is offshore outsourced. This is known as TAA, or trade adjustment assistance. Pretty ridiculous isn't it? To labor arbitrage Americans and then act like they did this great deed to offer a few useless classes for skills in jobs which do not exist.

Fast track is still in place, except for the Columbia trade deal and it gets worse. Congressional leadership is cutting debate short.

These deals sailed through committee and are expected to pass. Just astounding, we have the entire country erupting in protests over economic injustice, opposition to these NAFTA style trade deals crosses the partisan divide and most people do not want them. Every election the one who promises to reform trade, cancel NAFTA, seems to win. Yet here we are, with seemingly smooth sailing to ratify even more bad trade agreements that hurt workers here and abroad, allow murder and even legitimize corporate tax havens.



Connecting it up

The three pending FTAs can be connected up to the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011 ... but only if we the People connect them!

The currency bill could act as cover for passing the FTAs, but the trade issues combine into a red-hot iron that no one can hold for long. It all depends on citizen activism and participation, which depends on citizens knowing what's going on.

Now is the time to pick up the phone and call Congress. We want real trade reform, and we do not intend to accept any substitutes!

Politicians are all aware of the power of the trade issue today -- a year before the election, and the trade issue is already a game changer. Boehner may be able to retain his iron grip on the House and thwart the will of the majority temporarily, but if so, it will be a Pyrrhic victory.

What we are seeing today is like Lexington and Concord in 1775. This is only the beginning, but it is the beginning.

That's not the half of it!

I don't disagree with most of this, but I think that is misses the point. Each trade agreement is a treaty, which (according to state department dogma) can neither be revoked or altered by congress.

The reason that the super-wealthy are so adament about entering into these agreements is that they permanently force some amount of labor artibrage into our economic mix. It is an unstopable way to make money without even having to actually produce a product. It is Nirvana for the well-heeled status quo.

There is no "wait until next year" here! Once those agreements pass, they are stone collar around the middle class. They are permanent.

ratification by Congress instead of "pass"

You're right, but Congress must ratify those trade treaties for them to be enacted. I used the word "pass" to imply Congress does have power here.

State Department dogma v. Constitution

"Each trade agreement is a treaty, which (according to state department dogma) can neither be revoked or altered by congress. ... Once those agreements pass, they are stone collar around the middle class. They are permanent." -- Keith

Of course, we all know that State Department dogma is contrary to the Constitution of the United States. That's what makes our anti-WTO designs so much fun. We really can imagine, at least, following our Constitution to put that State Department dogma to rest ... permanently.

In the USA, we have never considered that the EU (most successful effort so far toward systematically eliminating trade barriers) requires actual approval of each member state through a general referendum, not just once but each time that the EU is enlarged.

Efforts to circumvent the Constitution will not be 'permanent' -- either that or the United States of America will disappear from the map -- and then how much are the treaties worth?

Meanwhile, people are very unhappy about the WTO world system, not only in the USA but everywhere. So, keeping an open mind about all the possibilities, we prepare to move forward beyond a cautious 'watch and wait' policy.

Believe it or not, there was international trade before the WTO ... and there will be international trade after the WTO has disappeared down the Great Memory Hole of history.

trade reform calls out Obama to the letter

Trade Reform is also talking about this insanity, with a plug for GOP Presidential candidate Buddy Roemer. What's more amazing is the main stream press.....you cannot find even a mention of the fact this is a complete flip-flop on campaign promises by Obama.

You know what else the main stream press doesn't mention? The fact these treaties are projected to lose more jobs and the fact that past trade treaties, i.e. NAFTA, China PNTR, are proved to have lost jobs and hurt the U.S. economy by increasing the trade deficit.

Looks like U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a muzzle on all media, except for a few outposts, like this site.

Trade Reform rocks!

So does this site, EP!

Retrain for what???

So Congress knows Americans will lose jobs over this but they don't care. How cruel.

Somebody please tell me, what field are those that lose their jobs going to retrain for?

If Obama said he'd renegotiate NAFTA then he lied straight to the face of the American people. To add insult to injury, he wants more NAFTA style trade deals.

Totally unbelievable. Is this just a nightmare? Pinch me so I'll wake up.

Trade Policy Vehicle to Destroy America

There seems to be some spin here, if America did not offshore tons of manufacturing jobs then people in America could buy their own health insurance with no "government" who often sides with Pharma industry & big Corps (who may create more diseases to perhaps later then bill the large one pool massed into the central government health care system??) This is what Nafta is all about the subversion and dismantling of our Constitutional form of government, and our dysfunctional trade policy the vehicle too make it happen with the one party system of Demopublicans complicit in the plot. Is it any wonder why after so many years no one seems to fully understand the Managed trade which is NOT free trade but managed by WTO special interests? The reason for status quo? http://www.stopthenorthamericanunion.com/TreasonAbounds.html

Now banks failing and people broke so as to lead us to a future world government. Even a 5 year old would see through the cloud of nonsense. 95% of our congress srving special interests and not the American people at all turning us into their production units or human production capital????