ICYMI, USA Today Op-Ed: Sen. Sherrod Brown: Trade pacts cost millions of jobs


ICYMI, USA Today Op-Ed: Sen. Sherrod Brown: Trade pacts cost millions of jobs

“I want trade that strengthens America’s middle class and creates jobs.” – Sen. Sherrod Brown

We shouldn’t give fast-track authority for more NAFTA-style deals if we can’t guarantee a level playing field for U.S. workers and manufacturers. And we shouldn’t greenlight the Trans-Pacific Partnership if we can’t guarantee that China won’t be able to gain backdoor entry at a later date.

Between TPP and the pending commerce agreement with European nations, more than half of the world’s GDP is at stake. Now is not the time to rush an agreement and ignore the fine print.

It’s true that export opportunities through trade deals have created jobs. But trade pacts have also cost millions of jobs. Lauding gains from exports while ignoring a flood of imports — and skyrocketing trade deficits — amounts to reporting half of the score of a baseball game. The Cleveland Indians scoring six runs doesn’t help if the Yankees scored eight.

Past agreements have often replaced well-paid manufacturing jobs with low-paying service sector jobs, depressing wages and widening income equality.

And when we make trade deals with countries that don’t follow the same labor, health and environmental laws that we do, we see rising imports and shuttered factories. How can U.S. workers compete against imports made by low-wage workers in a TPP nation?

Absent strong protections, trade pacts can be used by corporations to enrich their bottom lines at the expense of consumer safety. For example, under so-called investor state provisions, tobacco companies can challenge anti-smoking laws enacted in other nations by saying the laws interfere with their foreign investment.

We know that trade done right can create prosperity. But I want trade that strengthens America’s middle class and creates jobs. That happens only when the rules aren’t fixed and we have a level playing field.

Your Editorial Board acknowledges that “the details of a TPP are not yet known” — and the devil is in those details. For example, it’s possible that China could join later, without a vote in Congress. Without strong rules, we might as well be talking about the China Free Trade Agreement.

We can’t continue to pass NAFTA-style deals that give corporations handouts while workers get sold out.

Stand with Sherrod in this fight. Add your name to tens of thousands of others who oppose trade deals that harm American workers.

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