Promoting Fair Trade
When crafting trade deals, Congress must prioritize America’s many complex interests above all else...
...and ultimately ensure that Americans have access to safe, good-paying jobs. Americans all across the country, including right here in Ohio, have begun to face the grim reality that the economic ladder leading to the middle class is broken. By understanding the complexities of international trade and using its economic power to our advantage, Janet will support policies to repair that ladder, paving the way for every Ohioan to achieve the American Dream.
International Trade: The Basics
International trade is complex, confusing, and difficult to pin down even for those who have dedicated their lives to studying it. If leveraged carefully, international trade deals can create jobs right here in Ohio. At the same time, bad trade deals can also discourage economic investment here at home. Smart negotiators recognize both of these realities, and Janet knows that a dynamic solution to the question of free trade will include elements of both.
Some, like President Trump, choose to flatten the concept of international trade into a zero-sum game, electing to focus on trade like a nation’s trade balance rather than the picture as a whole, creating misleading narratives about the actual benefits and costs of international trade. For example, Trump has excoriated the trade balance as a sign of a weak American economy, and he continues to champion harmful trade policies aimed at addressing the trade imbalance. Many economists disagree, because historically, the US trade deficit grows when the economy is growing and creating jobs, not the other way around.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which entered into force on January 1st, 1994, created one of the world’s largest free trade zones. In addition to spurring economic growth and creating jobs domestically in the United States, in also significantly increased trade between the three countries. In addition, NAFTA has dramatically lowered prices on a variety of different products for US consumers, ranging from oil to agricultural goods.
Despite these obvious benefits for the United States, NAFTA caused a decrease in working conditions for workers in Mexico and saw many American businesses threaten to relocate there to save money. To address these issues and increase US benefits from NAFTA, it’s crucial that the United States ensures that member countries are engaging in responsible trade practices. Janet pledges to help Congress engage in productive, not antagonistic, dialogue with our allies in Canada and Mexico, renegotiating outdated aspects of NAFTA by using empirical facts rather than conjecture to benefit all Americans – businesses, workers, and consumers alike.
Automation and Social Mobility
The Great Recession of 2007-08 crippled the American economy, resulting in a loss of almost 9 million jobs; a decade later we are still recovering. Additionally, over the last two decades increased technological advancement and automation has drastically altered the job market, leading to massive losses in working class manufacturing jobs, a reality known all too well here in Ohio.
By recognizing that automation, not international trade, poses the most imminent threat to American workers, Janet can begin to champion policy initiatives that address the root causes of economic deprivation, enacting change that will make life better for all hard-working Americans.
In 2016, the US Council of Economic Advisers reported that 83% of current jobs paying less than $20 per hour could be automated. With this in mind, Congress should work to deregulate sectors of the economy that are growing. This allows American workers to take advantage of new professional opportunities like ridesharing services, while simultaneously working to slash senseless regulations that prevent American workers from pursuing alternate career paths. Janet supports pursuing these common-sense policies in tandem with updating our international trade agreements, resulting in a more comprehensive policy that is capable of providing short and long term solutions to the economic issues plaguing America today.
The only way to leverage the massive benefits that international trade offers, however, is to ensure that American workers have the skills to fill the jobs it creates. The federal government must help those disenfranchised by our economy to take advantage of these opportunities by providing new pathways for mobility and job training. Today, only 1 in 3 Americans have a college degree. In the past, hard workers without the opportunity to pursue a college education were still able to obtain safe, good paying jobs in prosperous economic sectors, including the military, construction, and manufacturing , enabling them to earn a living and provide for their families. Increases in productivity have made this method of addressing economic grievances obsolete. If we want to enact true economic change, lifting people into the middle class and keeping them there, we must provide new routes for social mobility. Access to college education will be crucial in achieving this goal. With degrees in hand, American workers can enter into job markets eager to put and keep them in work.
In recent years, the unemployment rate for those with a college degree was 2.4% while the unemployment rate for those without a college degree was 7.4% - we must level the playing field to give all Americans an equal opportunity for economic prosperity.
It’s important to include automation and social mobility in discussions of trade, because if trade is not the major cause of job loss in the United States, then protectionism is not a solution to our current economic issues. In fact, protectionism may even exacerbate issues of economic inequality. Apparel, for example, is produced at significantly lower costs abroad. Enacting protectionist trade policies to save the small fraction of jobs in the apparel industry (135,000 in 2017) would drastically increase clothing prices for American consumers.
To ensure US consumers have access to affordable, high quality products without jeopardizing opportunities for American businesses to compete in the international market, Janet pledges to demand that all trading partners abide by the highest of standards. If countries, including China, continue to pursue unfair trade practices, Janet will hold them accountable by using the power of the US economy to protect American interests. The United States must enforce the trade agreements in which currency devaluation, environmental degradation, discriminatory pricing, market flooding, and the abuse of workers are not allowed. Janet will fight to prevent any rapid increases in imports that can harm communities that produce substitute goods, a surefire way of preserving the remaining manufacturing jobs supporting so many local families
When it comes down to it, Janet recognizes that global trade hasn’t lived up the expectations of millions of Americans. But she also recognizes the immense potential the United States has to leverage the power of international trade to better the lives of all Americans and improve America’s standing in the world.