The topic of the day is jobs. The question gets asked a lot: What policies can we implement to create jobs? With more than 9 percent unemployment in this country, we should be talking about how to create jobs.
The truth is, for years we have known one clear and simple way to create jobs and stimulate growth in our economy. It would create and support thousands of jobs, possibly even hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Of course I am talking about implementing the trade deals reached with Panama, South Korea, and Colombia that we entered into back in 2006 and 2007. I have pushed for passage of these deals for nearly five years.
Yet, congressional Democrats and, later, President Obama, continued to put up barriers that prevented their consideration and passage. There is no clearer and easier way of creating jobs in the near term than passing the implementing bills now before us and sending them to the President.
According to the National Association of Manufacturers, 100,000 jobs will be created by the implementation of these trade deals. There are estimates from other sources that suggest the number of jobs created may be even higher.
The Obama administration estimates the Korea trade deal alone will create 70,000 additional jobs for the U.S. work force.
Not only do these trade deals expand opportunities for U.S. workers, but they also present tremendous opportunities for American farmers. It is estimated the Korean deal could increase the price farmers receive for their hogs by $10 per hog
The Colombian deal will level the playing field for U.S. corn farmers so they can begin to reclaim some of the market share they lost due to high tariffs.
The agreement with Panama will bring about better opportunities for a variety of agriculture products including beef, poultry, and pork, just to name a few.
I came down to the Senate floor today to express my support for these trade deals and urge passage. We have been waiting a long time to get to this point, and I am eager to cast my vote in support of all three deals.
But as the finish line nears on these deals, the American people should be asking why President Obama has dragged his feet on these for so long.
The President has wasted time and tax dollars with stimulus programs, which did not produce any measureable amount of jobs. The stimulus plan failed to do what President Obama promised Americans. Now he wants to try it again with yet another costly stimulus program.
We don’t need more government spending to create jobs; we know that doesn’t work. Rather, we should be doing what we know works.
We need to continue opening markets for U.S. exports. I could go into the other ways to stimulate our economy such as providing businesses with more certainty by reining in unnecessary regulations, but I will save that for another time.
We need to pass these trade deals, and we need to do it now. American workers need them now. But let’s not stop there.
The President can provide certainty to businesses, farmers, and workers in this way; he can renew his commitment to expanding trade opportunities.
In January 2010 the President said he wanted to double exports by 2015, which was welcome news. But actions speak louder than words, Mr. President. You have repeatedly delayed these trade deals, your administration has routinely dodged the question of when you will request trade promotion authority, and you have not laid out a clear strategic plan for in fact reaching the trade goal you expressed at the beginning of 2010.
We are now nearly two years further down the road. While it may be tough to reach the goal of doubling exports by 2015, we can still push on toward that goal. The more we do to open new markets and then get out of the way, the more it will help this struggling economy.
I have three steps to continue helping U.S. businesses, farmers, and most of all workers. First, we pass these three trade deals now, with no more political gamesmanship by this administration. Second, Congress passes trade promotion authority so the administration can responsibly seek out opportunities for greater market access for U.S. products. And finally, the administration makes it a top priority to actually seek out more opportunities for opening foreign markets for U.S. products.
We live in a global economy. We once led the way in forming trade agreements and expanding trade relationships. But we have lost our way under the Obama administration. We need to re-establish our position as the world leader in opening and expanding markets. Passing these trade deals is a crucial, and long overdue, first step.
I urge my colleagues to help U.S. businesses, farmers, and workers by voting in support of the Panama, Colombia, and South Korea trade deals.