In the early 1990s, Congresswoman Kaptur joined House Majority Whip David Bonior and freshman Congressman Sherrod Brown in leading the House effort against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
America today sees the results of this failed policy: shuttered factories, depleted tax bases, and families out of work. NAFTA promised millions of good jobs for Americans, but we got the giant sucking sound that H. Ross Perot predicted.
NAFTA and similar agreements contributed to the devastation of our great manufacturing sector, which has lost a third of its workers since 1994 due in part to unfair trade. Multinational corporations rushed to low-wage countries to take advantage of cheap labor. Meanwhile, state-managed trade policy in nations such as Japan, Germany, and South Korea continued to keep out American-made products.
Working together, our businesses and labor organizations built Northern Ohio into an industrial powerhouse, always standing up for America, whether in war or peace. America's working men and working women and their families deserve a government that takes their side, not the side of big money. They deserve fair trade agreements that produce a level economic playing field, not a race to the bottom.
STEMMING JOBS LOSSES AND BALANCING OUR TRADE DEFICITWe cannot sit by idly while American jobs are being shipped overseas, our manufacturing base is being eroded, our wages decline, and our economy is threatened by unfair trade agreements and ballooning trade deficits. Congress needs to take dramatic action to stop the downward economic spiral.
Two pieces of legislation by Congresswoman Kaptur address this issue directly:
The NAFTA Accountability Act (H.R. 191) would withdraw the U.S. from NAFTA unless the President renegotiates its terms to correct serious flaws. It would require the Administration to certify to Congress that since enactment NAFTA has resulted in:
- more jobs and higher living standards;
- increased domestic manufacturing;
- maintenance of health and environmental standards;
- no increase in pollution near the border;
- no increase in the importation of illegal drugs, and;
- observance by Mexico of political and human rights.
EXPANDING TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCEWe must support workers who have lost their jobs due to unfair competition. Congresswoman Kaptur has been a consistent champion of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which provides job training and other assistance to workers who have been laid off due to trade. Each year Congresswoman Kaptur strongly advocates for full funding of all of the TAA programs, including TAA for Workers, TAA for Firms, and the new TAA for Communities program, which will allow areas to receive federal funding to develop a strategy to diversify and strengthen their economy.
NAFTA at TEN: Journey to Mexico
Report of the U.S. Congressional Delegation November 14-18, 2003