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Tim R.
Democrat OH 13

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  • Free Trade Agreements

    by Representative Tim Ryan

    Posted on 2015-01-27

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    RYAN of Ohio. Thank you so much. I want to thank the gentleman from New York. It is always fun to be here with you in the later evening hours.

    As I am listening to you talk about fair trade versus free trade and about some of these agreements, you have just got to go to the communities. I mean, this is not rocket science. Go to the communities that have been impacted over the last 20 or 30 years, going back to NAFTA and CAFTA and all of these other agreements, and look at them. Look at what has happened in places like Youngstown, Ohio, or in upstate New York or in Connecticut or up and down the east coast.

    Mr. Speaker, we have, in Ohio, several companies that, after the NAFTA agreement, started moving, wholesale, their manufacturing facilities from Warren, Ohio, or Youngstown, Ohio, to just over the border in Mexico--to just over the border with cheaper labor and no environmental or labor standards to be seen--and shipping the products right back over, decimating communities across Ohio, like the ones that we represent.

    There is a State route in Ohio, State Route 7. It goes from the lake all the way down the Ohio River. If you want to see what these trade agreements have done in the heartland, go take a ride down Route 7, especially the southern part. Go through Steubenville and East Liverpool, Ohio; go down to Portsmouth; go through Athens County, and you will see the erosion of what used to be the industrial might of the United States of America. They have eroded communities.

    The ripple effect--the job aspect of it--is of unemployed people. Now there is no one to support the schools. Now there is no one to support the mental health levy. Now there is no one to support the libraries. Now there is no one to throw $20 in the basket at church on Sunday. The ripple effect throughout these communities has decimated the middle class, our communities, and has reduced opportunity for our young people, whom we want to thrive in manufacturing in the United States.

    I don't want to see the GDP. I don't want to see numbers. I want to see what it is doing for average Americans and middle class people-- period, end of story. How does it help them? Drive through the communities, and you are going to see the evidence that we have not negotiated these agreements. If there is growth and if there are increased profits and if the stock market is going up, where is that money going? It is not going to the middle class people. There used to be middle class people in our congressional districts, and I have told this story before.

    We have a $1 billion steel mill that is located in Youngstown now. Why? The company asked us to fight to put tariffs on the dumped Chinese steel tubing that was coming in, and the President, to his credit, put the tariffs on. They built the steel mill.

    So, when you level the playing field--if you are dumping or if you are manipulating your currency, which is something that we have got to get in this agreement: real teeth into the currency manipulation issue--or the environment or labor, then people and companies will reinvest back in the United [[Page H634]] States, and you can reinvigorate State Route 7, going north and south in Ohio. To me, that is the most important part. What are we going to do? How are we going to write agreements? How are we going to structure our trade to operate in a way that draws investment into the United States? One last piece.

    The small- and medium-sized manufacturers get hammered in this. Do you want to be pro business? Do you want to be pro middle class, small business, medium-sized businesses, tool and dye makers, mom-and-pop manufacturers that operate in communities like ours--the people who treat their employees like they are family and are the ones who sponsor the Little League team or the soccer team? They are getting wiped out in these agreements, and we are not factoring them in.

    If we want a small, robust middle class, business community in the smaller and mid-sized cities in America, these are the kinds of things we need to factor in when we are operating. Yes, we have got to invest in roads and bridges. Yes, we have got to invest in infrastructure. We have got to do research. We have got to make sure that we have an educated, skilled workforce, and we should invest in manufacturing and all the rest; but the trade agreements are key. If you look at what Korea has done to our auto industry and to our trade deficit with Korea--just those two things--we have lost tens of thousands of jobs because of the Korea trade agreement, and our trade deficit with them has skyrocketed.

    The proof is in the pudding. If we want to bring back the State Route 7s in the Ohios of America, then we need to do exactly what you are saying, Mr. Tonko, and what Rosa DeLauro is going to say and what others are going to say tonight. We need to reframe the way we talk about this.

    I am very thankful for the invite here, and I appreciate your passion and how you believe and understand we have got to do real economic development in upstate New York and in places like my communities. Thank you for being a leader on this issue.

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