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Hi Folks,

Most of you have probably already seen today’s dismal jobs report revealing that just 54,000 jobs were created last month.  This report confirmed what most of us already know: our economy, and our government, is not doing enough to create American jobs.

The current Majority in Congress proposes lower taxes for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, continuing a decades-long belief that making the rich richer will result in prosperity for all. At the same time, both Republicans and Democrats are pushing forward with three free trade agreements that are poised to create thousands of jobs…overseas.  All three free trade agreements are indicative of the misguided free trade policies that have led to the decline of manufacturing in the United States, and will do little to actually put Americans back to work.

In the shadow of these free trade agreements, I have introduced a piece of legislation that is designed to fundamentally alter our nation’s free trade status quo, and truly give American manufacturers a chance to create jobs.  Both manufacturers and unions, from Corning Inc. to the AFL-CIO, support this bill.  It is being pushed forward by a strong group of legislators who all share the belief that we must create the conditions for American manufacturers to succeed.

The Reciprocal Market Access Act would provide the United States with a comprehensive approach towards the market barriers that often prevent American manufacturers from competing in foreign markets.  Currently, poorly written trade bills result in barriers that prevent the sale of American goods abroad, while the American marketplace remains open to foreign goods and products.

Co-Sponsors of The Reciprocal Market Access Act
Rep. Louise Slaughter
Rep. John Larson
Rep. George Miller
Rep. Steve Israel
Rep. Peter DeFazio
Rep. Michael Capuano
Rep. Lynn Woolsey
Rep. John Olver
Rep. Michael Michaud
Rep. Gwen Moore
Rep. Walter B. Jones
Rep. John Dingell
Rep. Brian Higgins
Rep. Dan Lipinksi
Rep. Paul Tonko
Rep. Betty Sutton
Rep. Maurice Hinchey
Rep. Dale Kildee
Rep. Hank Johnson
Rep. Alcee Hastings
Rep. Dennis Kucinich
Rep. Bob Filner
Rep. Marcy Kaptur
Rep. Mike McIntyre
Rep. Larry Kissell
Rep. Rosa DeLauro
Rep. Tim Ryan
Rep. Yvette Clarke
Rep. John Garamendi
Rep. John Lewis
Rep. Chellie Pingree
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
Rep. Bruce Braley
Rep. Mark Critz
Rep. William Lacy Clay
Rep. Raul Grijalva
Rep. Gene Green

If a trading partner violates the terms of a free trade agreement, or uses predatory and unfair trade practices, then American businesses have little recourse.  Their only option is to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization, but these cases can take anywhere from 18 months to 3 years- a lifetime in the business world.  During this time, the unfair practices are allowed to go on unchecked, leaving American manufacturers to try and survive in this unfair marketplace while they wait for a resolution to their case with the WTO.

Under The Reciprocal Market Access Act, a “snap-back” provision would incentivize foreign competitors to come to a swift and fair resolution with their American counterparts.  Through this provision, the United States would have the authority to immediately reinstate prior barriers to the US market as necessary, while the unfair trade practices were resolved.

In short, the United States would finally be empowered to protect American markets from unfair trade practices, and ensure that American manufacturers could truly compete in foreign markets.

The simple truth is that a strong economy is as important as a strong military.  In fact, a strong economy is vital to our ongoing war on terror.  While alive, Osama Bin Laden often said that one of his goals was to bankrupt the United States, even if he couldn’t defeat our military.

Over the last 5 years, our economy, and our country, has indeed struggled to pay all of our bills while we fight a global war on terror, and deal with the devastating effects of a prolonged recession. If we are to remain a global superpower in the years to come, we must create more jobs immediately, and put 14 million unemployed Americans back to work.  I believe that starts with once again making things in America, and ensuring that our manufacturers can compete, and win, from free trade.

I believe we can do more than simply retrain workers for jobs that don’t yet exist. Instead, its time we challenge the free trade status quo, and finally provide the opportunity for American manufacturers to fully access foreign markets with strong enforcement provisions to ensure fair free trade.  With passage of The Reciprocal Market Access Act, I believe American manufacturers will be given the fair playing field they need to succeed and create new jobs here at home.

Originally posted to Rep Louise Slaughter on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 12:33 PM PDT.

Also republished by Three Star Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Questions for my Chief of Staff? (10+ / 0-)

    Hi folks,

    I have to catch a flight back to Western New York, but my Chief of Staff will be using my screen name today to answer questions you may have about this bill or this blog post.  In the near future I hope to create a dedicated account for my staff so that they can regularly interact with you in this space- for now, please allow us to share this username for today.  

    Again, thank you for your continued support as we keep fighting for much-needed job creation in the United States.

  •  Former Administration Economist Jared Bernstein (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gchaucer2, MikeTheLiberal

    suggested in a post earlier today that a good and doable way to boost the economy would be a "full-year, full-bore payroll tax holiday, both on the employer and the employee side" like the one proposed by the Rivlin-Domenici commission.  As Bernstein explains:

    Why this idea?  It’s of significant magnitude, the first name of the commission that proposed it is “bipartisan,” it cuts labor costs to employers and boosts paychecks of workers, who will spend the money, generating useful second round effects.

    Now clearly a big increase in infrastructure spending and a WPA-like program, as Robert Reich has suggested, as well as more aid to state governments drowning in red ink, would be better, but that doesn't appear to have any chance of passing Congress.

    But can a payroll tax holiday along the lines of what Bernstein mentioned realistically pass Congress?  

    "I used to try to get things done by saying `please'. That didn't work and now I'm a dynamiter. I dynamite `em out of my path." - Huey Long

    by puakev on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 12:57:17 PM PDT

    •  payroll tax (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Its hard to predict how this current Congress will react to any legislation, we've definitely seen our fair share of unexpected bills and votes this session.  However, a payroll tax holiday is something that would seem to have appeal to many Members on both sides of the aisle, and has been shown by economists, including Mr. Bernstein, as an effective policy tool.  At this point, it would be another tool this Congress would be wise to consider.

      •  Thanks for the response (0+ / 0-)

        I wish more of your colleagues were as sensible as you are.

        "I used to try to get things done by saying `please'. That didn't work and now I'm a dynamiter. I dynamite `em out of my path." - Huey Long

        by puakev on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 01:16:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  cutting taxes is not the answer (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brooke In Seattle

        U.S. manufacturers are paying low taxes now.  The U.S. needs to invest in wind, solar and other renewable energy and quit sending $'s overseas.  We need to invest in infrastructure and put people to work.  I can't understand why we continue to sell war and destruction while our people struggle, suffer, and die.  Family Values , my ass.  We won't even help our own who are in need.   We have to stop letting the corporate powers profit at the expense of the majority of our people.  

        •  I agree that investment is the best way (0+ / 0-)

          to get the economy going again, but frankly that has no chance at all of passing Congress at this point.  I believe the President and Democrats should keep making the case publicly for such investments.  But that's mostly to present an alternative vision to the Republicans' savage budget-cutting in next year's elections.  In other words,

          As for what this Congress might realistically do to help the economy in the next year and a half, I think a "full-year, full-bore" payroll tax holiday along the lines Bernstein suggested may just fit the bill.

          "I used to try to get things done by saying `please'. That didn't work and now I'm a dynamiter. I dynamite `em out of my path." - Huey Long

          by puakev on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 01:57:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  How does cutting the payroll tax (0+ / 0-)

      create jobs for the long-term unemployed?

      We get no first- or second-round effects from this.

      I haven't had a job in years. I may not ever work again because I am over 50 and have two college degrees, so employers don't want to pay what I'm worth or pay for my health insurance.

      We need a JOBS program that takes all comers -- giving preference to those unemployed a year or longer -- not another tax cutting program that may put some money in YOUR pocket, but does nothing to actually create jobs for those who desperately need them.

      "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

      by Brooke In Seattle on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 02:45:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I happen to agree with you (0+ / 0-)

        but such a jobs program is not going to pass with this Congress.  Thus I'm looking at a one-year payroll tax holiday, which is something that not only Bernstein but other progressive economists like Robert Reich have supported, and most importantly is something that may have a chance of passing.

        I'm all for making the case for a jobs program along the lines you discuss, but that will never come to pass unless Democrats take back the House and hold onto the Senate.  In fact making the case for a jobs program is one of the best things Democrats could do to make Democratic control of Congress a reality once more.

        Of course, Democratic control alone won't guarantee the passage of an ambitious jobs program, especially if regaining the majority involves a new influx of Blue Dog Democrats.  Thus it is incumbent on us to elect better Democrats and to build popular support for a big jobs program.

        It would be nice if our political leaders made a strong public case as well, but frankly they go whereever the political passions of the moment appear to be going.  From 2009-2010, those passions were coming from the Tea Partiers railing on about cutting spending, and not surprisingly our political debate this year has been about cutting spending.  Now, if somehow public support for a jobs program were to become loud and overwhelming enough, that would make our politicians more likely to pursue such action.  

        "I used to try to get things done by saying `please'. That didn't work and now I'm a dynamiter. I dynamite `em out of my path." - Huey Long

        by puakev on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 03:03:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you so much (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SneakySnu, MikeTheLiberal

    for taking the time to come here today.  And I'm hoping more folks show up to support the diary.

    I'm one of those folks who has to really take my time reading anything related to the economy -- I'm sort of missing a lobe on that issue and anything related to numbers.

    What I do see is that two of CT Congressmen are not co-sponsors.  I will call Chris Murphy's office and ask him to co-sponsor.  I encourage anyone in Joe Courtney's district to do the same.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 01:06:47 PM PDT

    •  Thank you! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gchaucer2, 4kedtongue

      Every call of support helps.  

      Unfortunately, the trade debate has often been framed as "Pro-FTAs vs. Protectionism."  Legislation such as this show that there is a responsible middle-ground.  We can and must reform our trade policy so that it works to promote opportunities for American workers, protects the environment and promotes international labor rights.  

  •  Like the Act... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle

    But what is the point?  We all know there is no way the Repubs in Congress will even allow this to come to the floor for a vote, much less pass.

    Pretty discouraged here.  I'm in WI, so you know what today's news has done for the workers in this state.  

    Any ideas on how to fight the GOP when they control everything would be appreciated.

    Your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore. John Prine -8.00,-5.79

    by Miss Blue on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 01:07:00 PM PDT

    •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Miss Blue

      nothing will get passed the House in this state.

      I guess all we as dems can do is purpose things, have them voted on, and see just who is allies with the working poor and middle class, and who has cast their lot in with the wealthy plutocrats.

      "The clown car always has room for one more" - a hilarious kossack

      by rexymeteorite on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 01:10:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  propose, not purpose. nt (0+ / 0-)

        "The clown car always has room for one more" - a hilarious kossack

        by rexymeteorite on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 01:10:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  We are in a tough environment in the House (3+ / 0-)

        However, as i mentioned above, we need to be proactive to show that there is an alternative to the current "free trade" model.  This is a long fight and will go beyond this Congress and beyond the three pending FTAs.  It is important that we build as much support for a responsible trade policy now as things like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Doha, and other potential free trade agreements come down the pike.  

        NAFTA and CAFTA both became law, and we have had to live with the consequences.  But simply opposing FTAs will not get us the desired results.  We need to provide an alternative policy, and this legislation is a start.  

  •  Excellent points (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle

    Even if the bill doesn't pass the GOP House, it's important to highlight that Democrats have a plan to bring jobs to this country.

    The only question I have is, how would the US determine an unfair trade practice?  I would hate to see is used capriciously.

    Awaiting an answer, thanks.

    "People should not be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people." --V

    by MikeTheLiberal on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 01:13:03 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for your question (2+ / 0-)

      One section of this legislation instructs the International Trade Commission to conduct an assessment of the impact of a prospective trade agreement on market opportunities and barriers for U.S. products or services that will be impacted by the trade agreement.  This report will be submitted to Congress, USTR, and the Commerce Department no later than 45 days prior to the beginning of negotiations.

      This would provide a benchmark for the United States Trade Representative and our trading partner to live up to.  It would clearly state what is true market access for American companies.  If the foreign country fails to live up to its end of the agreement, then the US could use the enforcement mechanism.  

      There would also be existing WTO guidelines for predatory trade practices such as dumping, illegal subsidies, etc.  

      It would be unwise for the US to frivolously use the enforcement mechanism, that would spark retaliatory trade measures.  

  •  I wish my Congresswoman could vote for this bill. (0+ / 0-)

    Unfortunately, she doesn't get a vote.

    And there are indications that marriage equality in DC might be one of the horses that gets traded in budget negotiations... and for the administration and Senate Democrats, "it’s unclear whether they consider the issue a deal-breaker."

    I know this is a bit off-topic, but I rarely have the ear(/eye) of a Congressional chief of staff... so I have to ask, what's Rep. Slaughter's stance on this?

    Will she pledge to vote against and speak out against any bill or budget that has a rider attached affecting my gay and lesbian friends' marriages in DC?

    What can Rep. Slaughter and other Democrats in Congress do to stand up for the right of DC citizens to govern ourselves—a right that was trampled over in the supplemental budget, when Congress told us we can't spend our own money on abortions and imposed a school voucher system on us?

  •  Thanks for Coming guys! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Giles Goat Boy

    I have to run to another meeting...  If you have questions, you can always call our office at 202-225-3615.  Otherwise, we hope to be back again soon to have some more exchanges like this.

  •  good idea (0+ / 0-)

    while i haven't read the details, i like this idea. increasing the resolution speed for trade disputes while still maintaining free trade is a great reform. best of luck.

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