Highlights dangers of TPP for U.S. and N. Ohio communities, workers, economy


WASHINGTON—Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur spoke out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and so-called “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives this morning (video). Her prepared remarks:


The American people are being kept in the dark about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. So much secrecy forces us to ask an important question: Have any of our past free trade agreements really been net positive for our nation and helped our workers? The answer is no.


Since 1976, our country has lost 47.5 million jobs due to deficits resulting from free trade agreements. During that time, we have accumulated a trade deficit of more than $9.5 trillion dollars. 


These growing trade deficits, that outsource our wealth and weaken our economy, devastate communities. Carrying a massive trade deficit has hindered economic growth and limited our economic recovery by nearly 16 percent in the last year alone. More and more people are slipping from the middle class as a result, with inequality at its highest levels since the 1920s. Millions of Americans are losing faith in the possibility of upward mobility.


Let us ask ourselves, what have past trade deals brought Americans?


Since NAFTA, America has lost nearly five million manufacturing jobs--one out of every four--and more than 57,000 manufacturing facilities have closed.  Washing machines that used to be made in Newton, IA, Maytag, now are imported from Mexico. Huffy bicycles that used to be made in Salina, OH are now imported from Asia. Ohio knows well the costs of Fast Track trade agreements that ship our good jobs and Made in the USA brands.


Since NAFTA, our trade balance with Mexico and Canada has gone from a $5 billion annual surplus in 1993 to a deficit of $177 billion today. That translates into 750,000 more lost jobs.


Quality of life for Americans has been declining under these agreements. Middle class America is shrinking. As businesses have closed and production has moved overseas, once thriving communities have become hollowed-out while wages for remaining workers drag in the face of constant downward pressure.


Three out of every five displaced U.S. manufacturing workers have been forced to take a pay cut in order to secure a new job. One out of three experiences a pay cut of more than 20 percent. These are among the luckiest workers, as frequently these laid-off workers over the age of 40 can’t even find replacement work.


This is not just a problem for America. Workers in other countries are affected too, contributing to unspeakable poverty and to waves of desperate immigration to the United States.


Clearly NAFTA was a failure for American workers.


After just three years in effect, the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement has been similarly disastrous. Its supporters promised that the agreement would create 70,000 new American jobs. In fact, more than 75,000 jobs have been lost due to our $14.7 billion, and growing, trade deficit with Korea. U.S. exports to Korea have fallen by 7.5 percent during that time.


The Korean agreement was hailed as a wonderful opportunity for the American economy, something that we just couldn’t pass-up. We have heard this same line and been told the same tale for every new free trade agreements. We’re hearing it now with TPP. Yet the numbers tell us a different story.


In 2014, the U.S. imported 1,288,546 vehicles from Korea while we exporting 34,186. This does not just mean lost profits for the U.S. auto industry, it means fewer jobs, lower wages and declining opportunity for America’s middle class.


The Korean FTA has been a failure for American workers too. 


With TPP negotiations continuing to advance, America should ask: could this possibly be a good deal for American workers?


We already have colossal trade deficits with Malaysia, Vietnam, and Japan – prospective TPP partners use protectionism and currency manipulation to gain unfair advantages, and in some cases fail to regulate appalling labor conditions. These nations will not deliver on the promises made in support of TPP.  History should teach us, we need a new trade model. America doesn’t need more job outsourcing trade deals. The executive branch and specifically the National Security Council needs to pay attention to the harm it causes when it forgets the undue harm its trade policies have caused in America.


For the past 21 years, we have watched NAFTA wreak havoc on our economy. Our workers don’t need more false promises, and we already know these deals do not benefit America’s working families. There is no credible reason to think the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be any better, and we have a duty to our constituents and middle class families throughout the country to stop this deal in its tracks. The American people are asking for a new trade model that creates jobs and economic growth in our country again.