Elizabeth Warren on Free Trade
Massachusetts Senator; head of CFPB
WARREN: Our responsibilities are not just to each other in this country. Our responsibilities run worldwide. And that's true whether we're talking about the AIDS epidemic or it's true whether we're talking about human rights violations. I believe what we need to do as a country, we need to bring more pressure to bear. On trade policy: Everyone around the world who has something to sell wants to get to the American consumer. Why? Because we buy a lot of stuff. We need to use that leverage to say, "if you want to come and sell here, then you have to meet some basic standards." Now, some of those are going to be labor standards, what you pay people. You can't be producing these products with prison labor. We want to use the leverage of our markets to raise human rights standards all around the globe.
WARREN: So our trade policy in America has been broken for decades, and it has been broken because it works for giant multinational corporations and not for much of anyone else. These are giant corporations that, shoot, if they can save a nickel by moving a job to a foreign country, they'll do it in a heartbeat.
And yet for decades now, who's been whispering in the ears of our trade negotiators? Who has shaped our trade policy? It's been the giant corporations. It's been their lobbyists and their executives.
The way we change our trade policy in America is, first, the procedures. Who sits at the table? I want to negotiate trade with unions at the table. I want to negotiate it with small farmers at the table. I want to negotiate it with environmentalists at the table. I want to negotiate with human rights activists at the table.
Secretary Julian CASTRO: I would immediately begin to negotiate with China to ratchet down that trade war. We have leverage there.
Q: What leverage can America bear to pressure China?
Senator Elizabeth WARREN: Are you kidding? Everybody wants access to the American market. That means that we have the capacity to say right here in America, you want to come sell goods to American consumers? Then you got to raise your standards. You've got to raise your labor standards. You've got to raise your environmental standards, so our companies can compete on a level playing field. We can use trade not to undermine American workers and not to undermine American farms and not to undermine small businesses in this country. We can use trade to help build a stronger economy.
I have put out a new comprehensive plan that says we're not going to do it that way. We're going to negotiate our deals with unions at the table, with small businesses at the table, with small farmers at the table, with environmentalists at the table, with human rights activists at the table. And then, we're going to use the fact that everybody in the world wants to get to America's markets. They want to sell to you.
WARREN: What the congressman is describing as extreme is having deals that are negotiated by American workers for American workers. American workers want those jobs, and we can build the trade deals that do it. People want access to our markets all around the world. Then the answer is, let's make them raise their standards. Make them pay workers more. Let their workers unionize. Raise their environmental standards before they come to us and say they want to be able to sell their products.
Warren: I think that was a trading deal that was not good for the American people and not good for the American worker. It was a trading deal that was written in order to help giant corporations. Over and over the United States has been negotiating one deal after another that helps giant multi-national corporations but does not help American workers, does not help Americans small businesses, does not help American farmers. We need to do our trading deals very differently.
If labor representatives had a substantial number of seats at the table , I guarantee that the trade deals would be written differently and that the promises that were made would have some serious muscle to back them up.
There's so much more we could do if we actually had a trade policy that was about making the economy work better for
Nut what if that country violates other terms of the agreements, such as those that prohibit companies using prison labor or dumping toxic waste into rivers? Can workers or environmental groups go to that same high -speed arbitration panel? No. They have to do to their own government and try to persuade it to bring a lawsuit to an international court.
People are angry because trade deals seem to be building jobs and opportunities for workers in other parts of the world, while leaving abandoned factories here at home. Angry because young people are getting destroyed by student loans, working people are deep in debt, and seniors can't make their Social Security checks cover their basic living expenses. Angry because we can't even count on the fundamentals--roads, bridges, safe water, reliable power--from our government.
People are angry, and they are RIGHT to be angry. Because this hard won, ruggedly built, infinitely precious democracy of ours has been hijacked.
Today this country works great for those at the top. It works great for every corporation rich enough to hire an army of lobbyists and lawyers.
As a Senator, I will never forget the link between our economic power and our global power, and I will fight to make sure we build a strong economy, so we can remain a powerful force for good around the world.
Fair trade: If we are going to sell our products to the rest of the world, we need to strengthen trade laws and ensure their enforcement. We need to make sure that those we compete with also respect workers' rights and environmental rules.
Last year, she went to far as to vote against Obama's then-nominee for the head of the Office of the US Trade Representative, Michael Froman, because of that lack of transparency as the 10 countries involved in the TPP discuss terms. "I have heard the argument that transparency would undermine the Trade Representative's policy to complete the trade agreement because public opposition would be significant," she said. "In other words, if people knew what was going on, they would stop it. This argument is exactly backwards. If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be US policy."
Excerpts from Letter from 31 Senators to the Secretary of Commerce: We are writing in strong support of the Department's decision to initiate antidumping and countervailing duty investigations of passenger vehicle and light truck tires from China.
China has targeted the tire sector for development and there are several hundred tire manufacturing facilities now operating in that country. In 2009, the United Steelworkers (USW) sought relief from a flood of similar tires from China that were injuring our producers and their workers.
Unfortunately, shortly after relief expired in 2012, imports of these tires from China once again skyrocketed. In June 2014, the USW alleged dumping and subsidies, identifying dumping margins as high as 87%. Our laws need to be fairly and faithfully enforced to ensure that workers can be confident that, when they work hard and play by the rules, their government will stand by their side to fight foreign predatory trade practices.
America's laws against unfair trade are a critical underpinning of our economic policies and economic prosperity. Given the chance, American workers can out-compete anyone. But, in the face of China's continual targeting of our manufacturing base, we need to enforce our laws.
Opposing argument: (Cato Institute, "Burning Rubber", Sept. 11, 2009) USW and the unions feel that they have earned the president's support. The president is presumed to owe Big Labor for his election last November. Will the president do what is overwhelmingly in the best interest of the country? Or will he do what he thinks is best for himself politically? The president should reject the recommendations of the USITC and deny import restrictions altogether. A decision to reject trade restraints in the tires case would be reassuring to a world that is struggling to grow out of recession. The costs of any protectionism under these circumstances could unleash a protectionist backlash in the US an
Heritage Action summary of vote# S206: The Senate voted to table (kill) an amendment by Sen. Kirk to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. Sen. Kirk recommends voting NO. Heritage Foundation recommends voting YES because the "Ex-Im Bank is little more than a $140 billion slush fund for corporate welfare."
OnTheIssues explanation: Voting NO would allow a vote on reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank. Voting YES would kill the bill for reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank.
Cato Institute reason for voting YES to kill the bill:The Ex-Im Bank's reauthorization buffs contend that Ex-Im fills a void left by private sector lenders unwilling to provide financing for certain transactions. Ex-Im's critics [say that] by effectively superseding risk-based decision-making with the choices of a handful of bureaucrats pursuing political objectives, Ex-Im risks taxpayer dollars. It turns out that for nearly every Ex-Im financing authorization that might advance the fortunes of a single US company, there is at least one US industry whose firms are put at a competitive disadvantage. These are the unseen consequences of Ex-Im's mission.
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Joe Kennedy III
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