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Rep. Lipinski: I'm Voting Against Job-Killing S. Korea and Colombia Trade Deals (October 12, 2011)

Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL) announced he will vote against job-killing trade agreements with South Korea and Colombia. The deals, which were first negotiated and agreed to by President Bush, were sent to Congress last week by President Obama.

“I cannot imagine a worse time for Congress to be passing job-killing trade agreements,” Rep. Lipinski said. “Expanding a NAFTA-style trade agenda that has already helped destroy 5 million manufacturing jobs would make no sense in the best of times, but to do it when 25 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed is absurd. Time and again, we’ve seen supporters of these kinds of agreements assure us that they’ll lead to economic growth and jobs, only to watch as more American factories shut down and reopen under the flag of one of our trading partners. Manufacturers in my district know this, workers in my district know this, only Congress and the President seem blind to it.

“The South Korea Free Trade Agreement would allow South Korean companies to assemble Chinese parts and export them to the U.S. on favorable terms, establish a mechanism for allowing imports from North Korea, and create obstacles for American companies seeking to hold South Korean corporations responsible for engaging in unfair trade. It does not address currency manipulation, despite South Korea’s past history of devaluing its currency to make its exports more competitive. Moreover, even the government’s official evaluation found that Korean auto exports to the U.S. will increase far more than American auto exports to Korea under the agreement. Little wonder that one study found the deal could result in the loss of almost 160,000 U.S. jobs. Meanwhile, the Colombia deal could result in the loss of an estimated 55,000 American jobs. Not only that, it would reward the Colombian government despite its failure to prevent the killing of hundreds of Colombian workers seeking better wages and working conditions. That conflicts with both our values and our interests.

“Here’s a better idea: Rather than continuing down the same road that has gotten us nowhere, House Republican leaders should allow a vote on bipartisan legislation to impose tariffs against China and other countries that deliberately devalue their currency to make it harder for American companies to compete. The Senate just passed such a bill, as did the House last year with the support of 99 Republicans and nearly all Democrats. Ending China’s currency manipulation would create at least 500,000 jobs, according to some economists. That’s something everyone should be able to support, regardless of party.”

(October 12, 2011)

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