Remember Republican Jerry Weller? Yeah, neither do we. But the
retiring 11th District Representative came out of hibernation yesterday
to write an op-ed in The Hill arguing that America's bi-lateral trade pacts have paid dividends for the American people.
From the piece...
Remember Republican Jerry Weller? Yeah, neither do we. But the retiring 11th District Representative came out of hibernation yesterday to write an op-ed in The Hill arguing that America's bi-lateral trade pacts have paid dividends for the American people.
From the piece:
As children many of us learned the story of Chicken Little, a character always claiming, “The sky is falling.” In Congress, we’ve heard a similar refrain with claims that “trade agreements are bad for America.” In fact, these claims were made as Congress acted to ratify bilateral trade agreements with 14 countries since 2001.
As the years have passed, we are witnesses to the fact the sky is not falling and trade is good for America. For example, American workers, manufacturers and farmers have been the big winners thanks to new market access guaranteed under these agreements.
Weller's main contention is that since the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) was implemented in 2006, we've turned a $1.2 billion trade deficit with the six neighboring countries included into a $3.6 billion surplus. But attributing those statistics exclusively to CAFTA is misleading. Indeed, Weller overlooks our weakening exchange rate. As the dollar has plummeted in value, foreign buyers have had a greater incentive to suck up American-made products. And now, with the value of the dollar climbing again, experts like the former head of the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research think it will be difficult for U.S. exports to grow.
In calling for an expansion of trade deals, the departing congressman also conveniently neglects the environmental damage wrought by pacts like CAFTA -- which the Sierra Club lays out in detail (PDF) -- and the dangerous labor practices employed by some potential trading partners. Weller might think Colombia is a "vibrant democracy and [a] reliable partner of the United States," but evidence proves otherwise; just this year, 41 Colombian trade union members have been murdered, bringing the total number killed since 1986 to nearly 2,700. Sure, John McCain doesn't seem to mind. But 11th district residents might.