A picture of Representative Rosa L. DeLauro
Rosa D.
Democrat CT 3

About Rep. Rosa
  • Free Trade Agreements

    by Representative Rosa L. DeLauro

    Posted on 2015-01-27

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    DeLAURO. Thank you so much to my colleague from New York and to my colleague from Ohio, Tim Ryan, who is just leaving the floor, and we have got Wisconsin in the House with Mr. Pocan.



    Mr. Tonko, thank you for taking the lead on this effort. I can't tell you how proud I am to join with men and women in this body who understand what is going on in the lives of working families today.

    Mr. Speaker, they are struggling. We need to walk in their shoes. That is what our job is--to represent their interests in this body. What do we know? We know that, in fact, they are in jobs today that don't pay them enough money to survive. That is why we are organized and are taking on a process which can do nothing but harm them in the future.

    All of us who are engaged in this effort have been long supporters of the President's and the administration's, and we believe genuinely that he wants to improve the lives of working Americans; but on the issue of trade, I and all of us will oppose the administration because they are following the exact same trade policy that has failed in the past.

    The administration claims that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will bring jobs back to the United States, will raise our wages, but experience tells us that far too many trade agreements have done the exact opposite. The TPP is based on the same model as the Korea free trade agreement, negotiated just 2 years ago. Since that time, the United States' trade deficit with South Korea has exploded by 50 percent. That translates into 60,000 lost jobs. This is a familiar picture: Korean products flood in, and American jobs flood out. When adjusted for inflation, our wages continue to slide.

    Princeton economist Alan Blinder estimates that as many as a quarter of American jobs will be offshored in the foreseeable future, and we know from past experience that the people who are laid off will see a significant drop in their wages--that is, if they are able to find another job.

    The trade agreements we have signed over the last 25 years have done nothing to ensure fair competition. Let's take one example. The deals have failed to address the problem, which our colleague Congressman Ryan mentioned, of currency manipulation. It is an unfair, artificial practice that has been devastating our automotive industry for a generation.

    Morgan Stanley estimates that currency manipulation gives each imported Japanese car an effective subsidy of between $1,500 and $5,700. That is neither free nor fair.

    Leading economist Fred Bergsten of the Peterson Institute wrote in Foreign Affairs just within the last several days: The United States has paid a major economic price for never having established an effective currency manipulation policy.

    In the last Congress, 230 Members--both Republicans and Democrats-- wrote to the United States Trade Representative to demand the inclusion of a strong and an enforceable currency manipulation chapter in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. So far, we have been ignored and dismissed. Put simply, if the agreement does not address currency manipulation, it will not be worth the paper that it is written on. It will be a green light to those who seek to compete unfairly with American manufacturing, and it will take away American jobs.

    The administration's arguments about jobs have failed. They know that experience and the numbers are against them. So, instead, as with past trade agreements, we hear the fallback arguments based on foreign policy.

    {time} 1900 If you listened to the Trade Representative today in the Senate Finance Committee, Mr. Froman, he talked about the danger of China, the specter of China. In the State of the Union, the President said that the TPP would help us counter China's growing influence. This is clearly not the case.

    As the economist and Reagan appointee Clyde Prestowitz pointed out in the Los Angeles Times last week, ``The ever-closing linking of the U.S. economy to those of the TPP countries over the last 35 years has not prevented the rise of Chinese power.'' He continued, ``nor has it deterred U.S. trade partners and allies from developing ever closer ties with China.'' They will not stop doing so just because we sign a trade agreement. In reality, the argument about China is nothing more than an attempt to distract the American public with scare tactics and that we are going to take on China. The administration should be above this kind of fear- mongering.

    Throughout this process, the administration has chosen not to consult the Congress fully. Members of Congress have been denied access to the full text of the agreement. The American people have been cut out of the negotiation; yet in the State of the Union, the President asked the Congress for fast-track promotion authority.

    A key part of granting that authority has always been the negotiating guidelines that Congress gives to the administration. That is our job-- to provide the negotiating guidelines--but the Trans-Pacific Partnership has already been under negotiations for years, first under President Bush and now under President Obama.

    [[Page H635]] Earlier today, the U.S. Trade Representative told our colleagues in the Senate that he expected a deal ``in the next small number of months.'' How can the Congress give guidance on a deal that we have never seen, a deal that is, for all intents and purposes, already done? Once again, we see fast track for what it really is. It is an attempt to cut the Congress out of the process altogether. We should not stand for this, and when we get that fast-track bill, we should vote it down. Bitter experience tells us that bad trade deals devastate jobs, devastate wages. That is why we should say ``no'' to this deeply flawed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    I can't thank you enough for taking on this job of being here at 7 at night, all of us together, to say ``no.'' I think what we want to convey to the American public is that we are committed to work on their behalf and to make sure that they have a decent shot at a decent job with good wages.

    Thank you so much, Mr. Tonko, for listening.

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