No 1515 Posted by fw, November 16, 2015
“Since 2001 we have lost 60,000 manufacturing facilities in America, a lot of it is attributable to trade. Millions of decent-paying jobs gone. People thrown out on the street. There’s no debate about it. Corporations say why would I want to pay an American worker $15-$20 an hour, why would I want to deal with a union, why would I want to obey environmental regulations. I can move to China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico. I can pay people pennies an hour, bring the product back into the US. That is what they have done. This is the race to the bottom.” —Bernie Sanders
In June 2015, US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders delivered a powerful evidence-based speech to the Senate, constructing a formidable case for the rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Sanders opened his address with a critical, fact-filled review of past US trade agreements, including NAFTA, and others with China and Korea. He compared optimistic predictions of huge job increases and trade surpluses with actual performance and the “race to the bottom.”
Turning his attention to a TPP future, Bernie foresees nothing but more trouble ahead once US workers start to compete with workers in Vietnam earning 56 cents an hour, and in Malaysia, where they will be forced to compete against workers who are literally held in slave-like conditions, unable to leave the country, having their passports taken away, working for pennies an hour.
Bernie concludes: “So, I hope very much that the Senate will take a real hard look at this trade agreement, take a hard look at what people have been saying for years about previous trade agreements and say we’re not going down this failed path anymore.”
Below, watch a 24-minute embedded video of Bernie’s Senate speech. Unable to locate a transcript of the speech, I provide the next best thing – copious verbatim notes and a full transcript of Sander’s conclusion.
Bernie Sanders exposes the Truth about the TPP and urges the Senate to vote against advancing this disastrous job-killing legislation. He details all the groups that are opposed to the TPP such as every Trade Union group in the US, Doctors Without Borders, religious groups such as the United Methodist Church and virtually every environmental group in the USA.
Verbatim Notes and Partial Transcript
I rise in strong opposition to this trade agreement.
TPP is not a new concept. We have seen this movie time and time again and let me tell you the ending is not very good
I think most Americans understand that our past trade agreements have failed American workers and have led to the loss of millions of decent paying jobs. U.S. Senate speech 2015
Why would we go forward with another trade agreement that is larger than previous agreements?
Sept 19, 1993 President Bill Clinton said: “I believe that NAFTA will create 200,000 American jobs in the first two years of its effect. I believe the NAFTA will create a million jobs in the first 5 years of its impact.”
In 1993 the Heritage Foundation said: “Virtually all economists agree that NAFTA will produce a net increase of US jobs over the next decade.”
In 1993 the distinguished senator from Kentucky, who is now our majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said: “American firms will not move to Mexico just for lower wages.”
The evidence is clear that they were all wrong. According to a well-respected economist at the Economic Policy Institute, NAFTA has led to the loss of more than 680,000 American jobs.
In 1993 the year before NAFTA was implemented the US had a trade surplus with Mexico of more than $1.6 billion. Last year the trade deficit with Mexico was $53 billion. How is that a success? In other words, NAFTA has been a disaster for American workers.
What about the Chinese trade agreement PNTR? [Permanent Normal Trade Relations] Here is president Clinton again in 1999: “In opening the economy of China, the agreement will create unprecedented opportunities for American farmers, workers and companies to compete successfully in China’s market. This is a hundred to nothing deal for America when it comes to the economic consequences.”
In 1999 a Conservative economist at the [right wing] Cato Institute said: “The silliest argument against PNTR is that Chinese imports would overwhelm US industry. In fact, American workers are far more productive than their Chinese counterparts. PNTR would create far more export opportunities for American than the Chinese.”
Go to any American department store and buy products – Where are those products made? China.
Chinese imports did overwhelm US industry. Cato Institute was dead wrong.
The Economic Policy Institute says that agreement has led to the loss of 2.7 million American jobs. The trade deficit with China has increased from 83 billion in 2001 to 342 billion in 2014.
Since 2001 we have lost 60,000 manufacturing facilities in America, a lot of it is attributable to trade. Millions of decent-paying jobs gone. People thrown out on the street. There’s no debate about it. Corporations say why would I want to pay an American worker $15-$20 an hour, why would I want to deal with a union, why would I want to obey environmental regulations. I can move to China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico. I can pay people pennies an hour, bring the product back into the US. That is what they have done. This is the race to the bottom.
It is employers saying to workers: “I’m cutting your health care, I’m not giving you a raise and if you don’t like it, I’m moving to China. You take it or leave it.”
Today the typical American worker is working longer hours for lower wages. That’s what the global economy has done. That is what horrendous unfettered trade agreements have done.
Ditto the Korean trade agreement. We have a history of failed trade agreements.
[My comment] — Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different outcomes.
Wall Street loves the TPP. The major corporations love this agreement. The drug companies love this agreement.
The Obama administration says “Trust us. TPP will be different. TPP will support 640,000 American jobs.”
They are wrong again.
Bernie focuses on two of the 12 countries in TPP – Vietnam and Malaysia
Minimum wage 56 cents an hour
Nike company manufactures zero shoes in US. They employ 330,000 workers in Vietnam, mostly young women, making very low wages. Nike will not release figures. Vietnamese newspaper report: “Analysts acknowledge that Vietnam’s abundance of cheap labor has played an increasingly pivotal role in wooing foreign firms looking to set up overseas manufacturing operations in a country with a population of 90 million”.
Wages are very, very low and companies from the US and all over the world will go there. Allowing passage of the TPP will make it easier for multinational companies to shut down in America and move there.
Can US compete with Vietnam? No. And it’s not fair.
Human Rights Watch 2013 publication on Vietnam: https://www.hrw.org/asia/vietnam
[Passage I selected] “Vietnam’s human rights record remains dire in all key areas. A one-party communist state suppresses virtually all forms of political dissent, using a broad array of repressive measures. Freedom of expression, association and assembly are tightly controlled. The police routinely use torture and beatings to extract confessions and punish detainees. Religious minorities and activists are harassed, intimidated and imprisoned. The criminal justice system lacks independence and operates under the direction of the government and party. State-run drug rehabilitation centers exploit detainees as forced laborers making goods for local markets and export. Despite the pressure, increasing numbers of courageous bloggers and activists are vocal in calling for democracy and greater freedoms.”
New York Times article of September 17, 2014. Report Cites Forced Labor in Malaysia’s Electronics Industry http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/business/international/report-cites-forced-labor-in-malaysia.html
Malaysia is a major center for manufacture of electronics. American companies use Malaysian manufacturing companies to make products that are shipped back for sake in the US.
Bernie reads from the NYT report and concludes: “American workers should not be forced to compete against workers who are literally held in slave-like conditions, unable to leave the country, having their passports taken away, working for pennies an hour.”
Bernie’s concluding remarks
This trade agreement is being pushed on the Congress by the largest corporations in the United States of America. They love unfettered free trade because it enables them to shut down in America and move to low-wage countries where they can employ workers at pennies an hour. This trade agreement is pushed on us by Wall Street who wants to make sure that around the world they will have financial regulations that make it easier for them to do what they do rather than serve the economies of countries around the world.
This legislation is strongly supported by the pharmaceutical industry who will have the opportunity to prevent poor countries around the world from moving to generic drugs and make medicine affordable to the poor people in these countries. So all of the billionaire class, all of the powerful corporate world are supporting this trade agreement.
Who’s opposing the trade agreement? Well virtually every trade union in American whose job it is to stand up from American workers, they’re in opposition. They are united. You have many environmental groups who understand that this is a bad agreement. You have medical groups who understand this is a bad agreement for poor people in developing countries. And you have millions of workers in this country who do not want to compete. They’re not afraid of competition. We are a productive country. They do not want to compete against people making 56 cents an hour, or against forced labor in Malaysia.
That’s where we are today. Where we are today is — Do we go forward with a failed trade policy or do we take a deep breath and say “Enough is enough!” Let us rethink trade policy. Let us figure out a way that we can grow the American economy, create decent jobs in the United States, and, by the way, help poor people around the world. All of us want to see wages go up in poor countries around the world. But that does not mean that wages have got to go down in the United States of America. So, we need a trade agreement that works for our people, works for poor people around the world, but is not a trade agreement that only works for the big money interests in the United States.
So, I hope very much that the Senate will take a real hard look at this trade agreement, take a hard look at what people have been saying for years about previous trade agreements and say we’re not going down this failed path anymore.
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