Black Workers, Jobs, Men, News, Politics

Senate Hands Obama a Victory on Trans-Pacific Partnership

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But it’s more bad news for black workers

By Frederick H. Lowe

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted to give President Barack Obama fast-track approval to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership after 13 Democrats joined with Republicans to Ok the deal.

The Senate voted 60 to 38 to give President Obama authority to complete Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 other countries.  The vote took place after the U.S. House of Representatives also voted to give President Obama fast-track authority.

President Obama
President Obama

Thirteen Democrats from 10 states that lost 996,000 jobs due to trade deficits with China between  2001-2013 voted for the deal.

“States like Oregon, California, and Colorado were the among the hardest hit states in the country, but they are also host to Nike (Oregon), Lockheed-Martin (Colorado, and Apple, Google, Intel and other Goliaths of Silicon Valley,” said Robert Scott, director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Research at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

The deal is considered a major victory for President Obama, but not for black workers.

Black workers will suffer, not prosper, because previous deals caused them to lose hundreds of thousands of well-paying manufacturing jobs due to currency manipulation and trade deficits.

A trade deficit occurs when a country’s imports exceed its exports. Currency manipulation is more complicated. It occurs when a trade-surplus country with a strong currency, like China, buys other countries’ currencies instead of purchasing exports from countries like the U.S., which has a big trade deficit with China. In both cases, U.S. jobs disappear while foreign countries make inexpensive goods and sell them here.

The Office of the United States Trade representative reported in 2013 America’s trade deficit with China was $318.4 billion.

When China entered the World Trade Organization in 2001, it cost black workers 281,100 high-paying manufacturing jobs from 2001 to 2011, said Scott, author of the 2013 research paper, “Trading away manufacturing advantage: China trade drives down U.S. wages and benefits and eliminates good jobs for U.S. workers.”

Scott estimated that African Americans made up 25% of minorities displaced by trade with China, suffering wage losses in excess of $2.5 billion.

Scott called the 13 Democrats members of “Hall of Shame” for their vote. They are: Dianne Feinstein (California), Michael Bennett (Colorado) Tom Carper (Delaware), Chris Coons (Delaware), Bill Nelson (Florida), Claire McCaskill (Missouri), Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire), Heidi Heithamp (North Dakota), Ron Wyden (Oregon), Tim Kaine (Virginia), Mark Warner (Virginia), Maria Cantwell (Washington) and Patty Murray (Washington).

The legislation now goes to President Obama who is expected to sign it.


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