Yesterday Cathy wrote at some length about the pressure being placed on Congress to give trade promotion authority to the Obama administration in order to complete work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But there are also those in Congress who want to strengthen our hand, and it was up to my old friends at the Alliance for American Manufacturing to point this out:
You wouldn’t wait until you needed life support to go to the doctor, right?
Well, that’s what it’s like for U.S. manufacturers and workers facing trade cheating from countries like China. They have to wait until factories close and thousands of people lose their jobs before they can even begin to fight back.
It makes no sense. But there’s something you can do right now to help.
A new, bipartisan bill would level the playing field for U.S. workers by strengthening our enforcement laws against unfair trade practices. Please tell your Member of Congress to cosponsor this legislation.
You and I have worked together in recent months to fight for U.S. jobs and against unfair trade. The introduction of the American Trade Enforcement Effectiveness Act shows we’re making progress.
Thousands of American workers have faced layoffs this year because there’s been a surge in trade cheating and imports from countries like China. The new bill seeks to make it easier for companies and workers to seek remedy against trade cheating like this — before the layoffs and plant closures begin.
With Congress currently debating fast-track trade legislation and new free trade agreements, now is the time for action. Join me in telling Congress to stand up for American workers and manufacturers.
Congressman Mike Bost of Illinois, a lead sponsor of the bill, points out that several entities within the steel industry, including AAM, support this bipartisan effort. As a whole, the steel industry has taken a beating from foreign competition. [Unfortunately my American Certified archives are no longer online – within that venue I detailed a long-standing dustup between American manufacturers and numerous other countries, particularly South Korea, over oil country tubular goods (OCTG) being dumped on the U.S. market during the fracking boom. That’s just one familiar example.]
Yet some of these same nations are now looking to get into our market via the TPP. And while the goal of any libertarian worth his salt is free and unfettered trade, there has to be an assurance that neither side is sticking a thumb on the scale. Dumping products on our market is one thing, but prospective TPP partners (particularly China, but also Japan) also have longstanding complaints against them for currency manipulation as well. While the idea is dismissed by some, we have other nations who want to make the rules as they go, too.
I suppose the operative question is just who wanted the TPP (or any trade agreement) in the first place? Generally it’s not the stronger entity who is looking for a break, and the United States economy is still among the world’s strongest and largest despite the best efforts of this administration to change that. There is a fine line between being too protectionist and stifling innovation (I love to use the Trabant automobile as the extreme example of this) and being taken advantage of by unscrupulous partners.
It seems to me that neither Cathy nor I believe we have a ruling class that is looking out for America’s best interests on either trade or immigration. I believe that there is such a thing as trickle-down economics, but using the power of government to assure yourself a slice of the pie means what trickles down isn’t something very clean.