A Senate committee met earlier this week to discuss a proposed U.S.-European trade deal, and as usual, lawmakers and witnesses trotted out the same old tired lines about how the agreement would help workers. The only problem is that the facts don’t support their sorry rhetoric.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said during the Wednesday hearing on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), also known as TAFTA, that the pact would increase exports to European Union (EU) nations by a third and create new jobs in every U.S. state. “It would cut red tape and reduce costs for businesses, such as automakers, that currently face duplicative regulations in the EU and the United States,” he said. “And it would spark investment and innovation that will bring jobs and growth on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Michael Ducker, executive vice president and chief operating officer at FedEx Express, said TAFTA would result in 740,000 new U.S. jobs. In his testimony, Ducker said the proposed agreement “presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to boost economic growth, create jobs, and raise standards of living, both for the U.S. and our European partners.”
Where have we heard this before? With pretty much every trade deal that comes down the pike. How else do lawmakers doing the bidding for big business get working people to buy in? Regular Americans aren’t going to rally around another corporate boondoggle that only enriches the few. They rightfully want a piece of success as well.
The results, however, never live up to the hype. Supporters of NAFTA said the deal would result in 200,000 new U.S. jobs; instead, it resulted in nearly 683,000 jobs being eliminated. The recently implemented U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement was supposed to create 70,000 new jobs, yet in the 18 months it’s been in place it has cost this country 40,000.
But the mother of all American job sellouts came from China joining the World Trade Organization in 2001. About 2.8 million jobs have been lost due to the dizzying trade deficit the U.S. has with the world’s biggest nation. That deal has cost jobs in every U.S. state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. President Clinton had promised the move would lead to substantial job growth in this country.
Given those facts, why the hell should workers believe what they are being told now? They face the same situation of being sold a bill of goods by corporate cronies that this is a good deal for them. But history doesn’t lie.
There were very few lawmakers at the hearing who raised doubts about TAFTA. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), however, was one of them. He said he hoped that business representatives in attendance would only support a deal that is good for America.
“I hope that your testimonies here today will be consistent as we evaluate a T-TIP agreement to make sure it is worthwhile,” he said. “Just don’t say any trade deal is okay. It has to be a level playing field.”
The U.S. has seen what bad trade deals can do. Let’s not fall for it again. Currently, a growing bipartisan collection of Congress is pushing back on another trade proposal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Lawmakers need to learn their lesson and protect good-paying American jobs from flowing overseas.