Free-trade concessions eliminate jobs

The president has noted in the past that “solutions come from neither the left, nor the right, but from the center.” But last week’s job package came directly from the right, highlighting just how desperate the president is to pass something without a drawn-out, murderous battle with Tea Party Republicans.

As he said himself in last week’s speech, the people “don’t care about politics.” We just want him to pass something — unless, of course, that “something” is actually worse for the American worker than doing nothing at all.

Somehow, that is exactly what the president has proposed to do. Embedded in the package are three Bush-era free-trade deals, which Obama pledged to veto as a candidate, that he is now pushing as central parts of the package.

In theory, free trade should be a good thing. It allows companies to produce goods more cheaply by using cheaper labor, which should mean that those same companies lower their prices accordingly and make goods more affordable for everyone by helping to ease inflation.

But in practice, free-trade deals simply boost corporate profits, leaving American workers jobless and uncompetitive in the global market.

Inflation as measured by the consumer price index continues to increase unmitigated, and the only beneficiaries are CEOs and foreign workers. Sustainable economic growth requires trade policies conducive to growth in domestic companies, both large and small, something both Republicans and Democrats refuse to promote.

Free-trade deals with Colombia and Panama are terrifyingly similar to deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Central America Free Trade Agreement, which were opposed even by strong free-trade proponents, including Ron Paul, because they are so imbalanced.

Essentially, the American government will impose zero tariffs on goods. However, these goods are produced much more cheaply by foreign laborers, and with much more lax environmental regulations.

Opening free-trade deals with Colombia and Panama means that high-paying, unionized workers in particular will lose their jobs to outsourcing, as corporations can pay laborers in Colombia and Panama to do the same jobs for much lower wages.

Currently, the only thing that stops corporations from producing their goods much more cheaply (and with complete disregard for the environment) is the very tariffs the Obama administration is asking Congress to repeal.

Though “protectionism” has somehow become a dirty word in the modern political debate, it is in some cases (including this one) the only thing that keeps manufacturers from fleeing the United States in favor of foreign workers.

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