It was exciting to be in Washington, D. C. last week for the annual Coalition for a Prosperous America's legislative fly-in for the third time. I arrived on the "red eye" flight from San Diego early Tuesday morning and was at the Capitol for my team's first appointment while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was speaking before Congress. The House and Senate office buildings were packed all day with AIPAC members visiting Congressional offices.
[Reposted from savingusmanufacturing.com | Michele Nash-Hoff | March 11, 2015]
CPA members from California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and the state of Washington formed teams to conduct more than 50 meetings over a period of three days. This was not the first visit by CPA teams to Washington, D. C. this year. CPA teams led by CEO Michael Stumo have been visiting Congressional offices every other week since Congress got back to work in early January. CPA's message about why we need to stop Fast Track Authority and focus on balanced trade for all future trade agreements is having an increasing impact.
Due to the Capitol being closed down when it snowed on Thursday, my team's appointments with California Representatives were canceled, but several offices in the Senate were open, and I joined teams visiting those offices. Since we Californians sometimes drive long distances to the mountains to experience snow, it was amazing to me that the government shut down for a few inches of snow. I was well prepared with all my snow gear from my winter visits to the San Jacinto mountains of Southern California and didn't mind trudging to Union Station while it was snowing to eat lunch since all the cafeterias in the Capitol were closed.
"CPA members who own or run companies, and who lead trade associations, used this opportunity to advocate for trade policies that benefit America," said Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America. "Congressmen and staff were very receptive because Fast Track and TPP are so controversial and because existing trade policy has drastically harmed wealth and job creation as well as the national interest."
"I'm happy to report that we were very effective in getting our message across and countering the relentless efforts by wealthy special interest groups who work hard to offshore our industries, our jobs and our sovereignty," continued Stumo. "Trade policy must serve the national interest, not just special interests."
We explained to our representatives and senators how "balanced trade" needs to be the basis by which national trade performance is judged. We explained that other countries use "Predatory Mercantilism" to frustrate the intent of trade agreements to eliminate barriers to trade by using tariff and subsidy replacements like currency manipulation, increased border taxes (VATs) and government subsidies to state-owned enterprises.
During my team's appointments, I shared that we now have a trade deficit with 88 countries, and our trade deficit with every one of our trading partners is worse than it was prior to concluding trade agreements with these countries. For example, our trade balance with Mexico in 1994 went from a surplus of $1.35 billion to a deficit of $53.8 billion in 2014.
Our overall trade deficit in 2014 for goods was $736.8 billion, but because we still have a trade surplus in services, our deficit in goods and services went down to $505.05 billion. The problem with services is that many of the services we now export are services being performed for American manufacturers that have set up manufacturing plants in other countries. Our trade deficit with China alone was $342.6 billion, representing64% of our trade deficit, up from 60% in 2013.
I pointed out that that it is mainly multinational global corporations that benefit from the provisions of our current trade agreements, and there were 600 corporate advisors involved in writing the clauses of the 30 chapters of the TPP. I explained that the reason why the National Association of Manufacturers and the U. S. Chamber support the TPP is that they are now controlled by large, multinational corporations with worldwide business interests through their plants in foreign countries. Many of these corporations that were once American-owned are now owned by corporations in foreign countries such as France, Germany, and Great Britain. They no longer have loyalty to the interests of the United States their loyalty is to their international shareholders. These corporations represent only 1-2% of all American corporations, so why should we approve a trade agreement that benefits only 1-2% of corporations and brings harm to the 98-99% of American companies that do not have plants overseas?
I also expressed my concern that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement would essentially make the Buy American Act null and void because under TPP, the procurement chapter would require that all companies operating in any country signing the agreement be provided access equal to domestic firms to U.S. government procurement contracts over a certain dollar threshold. To meet this requirement, the U.S. would have to agree to waive Buy America procurement policies for all companies operating in TPP countries. There are many companies that survived the recession and continue in business today because of the Buy American provisions for defense and military procurement. The TPP could be the death knoll for these companies!
The TPP is really a Trade and Global Governance Agreement because only five of the 30 chapters relate to tariffs and quotas. The other 25 chapters cover such topics as: domestic regulation: food & product safety, financial regulation, investor states' rights, immigration, intellectual property, federal, state and local laws on taxes, patents, copyrights, trademarks, immigration, environment, labor standards, and many other issues. Clauses in these chapters may even overrule prior acts of Congress and create binding policies on future Congresses.
We were encouraged to hear that the Trade Promotion Authority bill that would grant Fast Track Authority to the president has been delayed in being introduced until April. It seemed to me that there was a stronger desire at the offices we visited to preserve the constitutional Congressional power over trade as well as our national sovereignty and states' rights.
Our Congressional Representatives and Senators are on recess this week in their districts. Please drop by the district office of your representative or call, email, or write them to urge them to oppose granting Fast Track Authority to the president. As Michael Stumo said, "This issue knows no party. Both conservatives and liberals agree that American sovereignty is at risk from secretly negotiated deals that can transfer domestic authority to international tribunals,"
You can help ensure we stop this harmful legislation by supporting the Coalition for a Prosperous America.