TRADE 1/28/16


I am not a Republican in order to make the world profitable for multinational corporations at the expense of the American workforce.  All too often the interests of these big donors are put ahead of US citizens by our politicians.  Many trade agreements have been detrimental to our workforce.

We have an annual trade deficit of over 500 Billion Dollars.  Our last positive balance of trade was in 1975 and has gone increasingly negative since then.  Our annual trade deficit took a huge increase to 258 Billion Dollars in 1999 and has continued to rise.  The NAFTA trade agreement, extending Most Favored Nation trade privileges to China and China joining the World Trade Organization all kicked into effect around that time.  Our big multilateral trade agreements have resulted in this imbalance and the consequent de-industrialization of our country, at the cost of 50,000 manufacturers and 5 Million manufacturing jobs lost since around 1999.  Clearly we are doing something wrong.  We are tying ourselves up in huge, complex trade agreements that have had negative consequences for our workforce and take away some of our sovereignty.  For Example:

In June of 2015, Cathy McMorris Rodgers voted with the majority of the house to remove country-of-origin labels on beef, pork and chicken sold in the US in order to prevent a battle over the labels with Canada and Mexico.  The World Trade Organization had ruled that the labeling discriminates against animals imported from Canada and Mexico.  I want to know where my food is coming from.  All of our huge multilateral trade agreements have these kinds of features that cede a part of our sovereignty.  Here is an article on this vote.

We are in the midst of negotiating and approval of two huge trade deals, the Trans Pacific Partnership, TPP, (5,540 pages just submitted for review, negotiated over the past 7 years or more) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP, still in progress.  In setting the stage for these deals two laws were passed.  Cathy voted for the Trade Adjustment Assistance act, TAA, allowing federal funds for retraining of people who lost their jobs as a result of the trade agreements.  She also voted for Trade Promotion Authority, TPA, that gave the Obama administration authority to negotiate these trade agreements basically without input from congress.  The final agreements are then submitted to congress for approval or rejection, with no amendments on a fast track schedule.  In the past, in most cases, I would have voted to extend Trade Promotion Authority to a President, as has been done in the past, but not in the case of President Obama, for two reasons.  I do not trust President Obama and the judgment of the people he has appointed in any sphere.  Also, I believe that the era of huge multinational trade agreements should be over.

The passage of TAA presupposes that the coming huge trade bills will cost us jobs.  The opposition to these huge trade bills is usually from Democrats and they pass with Republican support.  Typically, big business loves these deals and they push the Republicans to support the bills.  Democrats object to the bills because they cost jobs.

Cathy voted for TAA and TPA.  Expect Cathy to go with the flow and vote for TPP and TTIP.  I would not.

Before we had significant trade with China the citizens of the USA were doing fine and the citizens of China were not.  They were a very poor country.  Since we started trading with China in a big way their economy has grown at about 10% per year and they have developed a middle class and an upper class in about 20 years.  Their military has gone from a massive third world type infantry force to a somewhat smaller but vastly better equipped first world type combined arms force.

Access to our markets, where the money is, is clearly the most valuable thing in world trade.  That should be the starting point in any trade negotiation and should give us the upper hand.  We on the other hand act as if access to other countries markets is the most valuable thing in trade.  We are doing it wrong, like the results tell us.

My Position:  We need to start our trade negotiations from the correct premise and stop negotiating these huge complex trade agreements and go back to bilateral agreements.  Bilateral agreements can be closely supervised by our US Department of Commerce rather than the multinational agreements supervised by a battalion of lawyers at an international agency.  When we find violations or problems with bilateral agreements we can act quickly to rectify the problems with the other nation directly, rather than be bogged down in an international bureaucracy for years.