By Joe Guzzardi
April 20, 2015
Here comes another free trade agreement and there go more American jobs. Last week, congressional leaders gave President Obama special authority to negotiate fast track trade promotion, T.P.A. Despite having vowed for months to oppose more Obama unilateral action, Republicans aligned themselves with the president to push forward.
The deal would grant Congress the power to vote on the broad 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (T.P.P.), but would deny lawmakers the chance to amend what would be the largest trade deal since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Then-President Bill Clinton muscled NAFTA through Congress despite opposition from labor and other Democratic constituencies. NAFTA’s negative effect on the U.S. job market has endured for nearly two decades.
According to the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute, by the time NAFTA’s twentieth anniversary arrived on January 1, 2014, the U.S. had lost five million jobs, workers who still had jobs had endured flat wages, and suffered from greater income inequality. South of the border, NAFTA displaced about one million Mexican campesino farmers which set off the subsequent illegal immigration surge from Mexico to the U.S.
Clinton promised that NAFTA would create 200,000 jobs within two years and a million within five. Once Clinton signed NAFTA, however, U.S.-based factories closed, and relocated in Mexico and other foreign nations. Eventually, 55,000 U.S factories were shut and middle class jobs disappeared with them.
In 2011, the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), proved to be similar despite White House hype, another disaster. Obama predicted that KORUS would “increase exports of American goods by $10-$11 billion,” and businesses would add 70,000 jobs. The opposite happened. Within three years, the trade deficit with Korea has more than doubled to $12 billion, and the economy lost 70,000 jobs. Trade devastation is everywhere. Since China became part of the World Trade Organization, the trade deficit with that country has soared to $318 billion, and cost millions of U.S. jobs.
Just as Clinton did 20 years ago, Obama insists that T.P.A. would “give our workers a fair shot.” But T.P.P. will allow the administration the flexibility to expand without public debate guest worker programs that would add more labor to a glutted market. Even though immigration is under Congress’ purview, Obama is on public record that he wants looser L1 visa guidelines, a provision that the American Jobs Alliance says is one of the trade agreement’s key components and which will allow for more international transfers but displace American workers.
Despite a U.S. labor force participation rate that is at its lowest level since 1978 and a March Bureau of Labor Statistics report that showed only 126,000 jobs created, Obama wants to use T.P.P. to further saturate the labor pool and give more employment to foreign nationals. If Congress agrees, it will surrender still more of its’ constitutional authority to a lawless president who is also attempting to implement an amnesty for five million aliens.
Given the trade agreements collective disastrous effects, critics wonder how Obama can return to the same NAFTA, KORUS and WTO deceits that were eventually exposed as job killers. Americans overwhelmingly oppose more trade deals. In the weeks leading up to NAFTA, public opinion was evenly split. Today, sadder but wiser Americans want the U.S. to get out of NAFTA.
Job destruction doesn’t seem to matter to Obama whose actions appear bent on abolishing the historic American nation through reckless trade and immigration policies.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]