News Fistfights, Not Debate, Expected In Korea Parliament Over Job-Killing "Trade" Deal view Evan Ramstad, Wall Street Journal The Korean-U.S. free trade agreement started with brawls and protests in the streets in 2006. And it now appears certain it will end with brawls and protests in the National Assembly next week. The final showdown is near, as lawmakers from both the ruling Grand National Party and opposition Democratic Party maneuvered for tactical advantage on Thursday and Friday. The GNP would like to avoid the PR nightmare of barricaded doors and shouting and shoulder-shoving (in some previous fisticuff spectacles, the sides made rules not to raise hands above their waist), but the words coming from the DP and other opposition parties signal they are sure to occur. It has seemed this way for months. Though South Korea’s FTA with the U.S. is not substantively different than the one with the European Union that took effect earlier this year, for opposition politicians, there is broader symbolism involved in fighting it. On Thursday, opposition parties led by the DP asked for the trade ministry to provide a list of translation errors that were made earlier this year in the Korean version of the pact. They also asked for a list of South Korean laws that will need to change to comply with the pact and cost estimates of changes in tariff rates. Meanwhile, President Lee Myung-bak, who favors the FTA, asked to speak to the Assembly to rally support from both lawmakers and the public for the deal. But opposition parties refused. Instead, he sent each lawmaker a letter explaining why he likes it and his willingness to accept legislation that provides assistance to businesses and individuals whose livelihood is hurt by the trade pact. Just as sure as there’s a fight ahead, however, is this: the FTA will pass. The GNP and government have been trying to remind the public that the previous Democratic-led administration of President Roh Moo-hyun initiated the trade talks and reached the initial deal with the U.S. The Finance Ministry posted a short video on YouTube with that message, even depicting Mr. Roh talking about the pact. The Roh Foundation, a charitable trust that looks after his affairs after his death in 2009, protested the depiction and said that the final deal (which received minor amendments by both countries last year) wasn’t the one that he agreed upon. A finance ministry spokesman in response said that the video was intended to clear up the “misperception” that the FTA was started by the Lee government. “The Korea-U.S. FTA started under the previous government and was negotiated between the two countries,” the spokesman said. “That was the message the video clip is delivering.” Read original post here. 10/28/11
News What Can I Do To "Save" American Manufacturing? view Michele Nash-Hoff You may feel that there is nothing you can do as an individual to stop the total destruction of American manufacturing and watch the United States go over the precipice. Don't think this way! American activist and author, Sonia Johnson said, "We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history." Eleanor Roosevelt echoed this sentiment saying, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Remember that our country was founded by a small group of people that did indeed change the world by forming the United States of America. Here are suggestions of what each one of us can do: As a Consumer: It matters if we buy American-made products. First, our addiction to imports has helped create our high trade deficit, especially with China, where most of the consumer goods we import are manufactured. Second, American-made products create American jobs. Each time you choose to buy an American-made product, you help save or create an American job. Look at the country of origin labels of goods when you go shopping. Most imported goods are required to have these labels. Buy the "Made in U.S.A." even if it costs more than the imported product. It is a small sacrifice to make to insure the well being of your fellow Americans. The price difference you pay for "Made in USA" products keeps other Americans working. If the product you are looking for is no longer made in America, then avoid countries such as China, who have nuclear warheads aimed at American cities. It would not be an exaggeration to say that American consumers have paid for the bulk of China's military buildup. American service men and women could one day face weapons mostly paid for by American consumers. Instead, patronize impoverished countries such as Bangladesh or Nicaragua, which have no military ambitions against the United States. In addition, you will be reducing your "carbon footprint" by buying a product made in America instead of a product that is made offshore that will use a great deal of fossil fuel just to ship it to the United States. If you have a "Made in USA" appliance that needs repair and all the new ones are imported, have it repaired. If it can't be fixed, and it is a small appliance that you can live without, then don't buy a new one. We Americans buy many things that we really don't need just because they are so cheap. If a product that you are considering purchasing is an import, ask yourself, "Do I really need this?" If you don't need it, then don't buy it. If you are willing to step out of your comfort zone, you could ask to speak to the department or store manager of your favorite store. You could tell the person that you have been a regular customer for x amount of time, but if they want to keep you as a customer, they need to start carrying some (or more) "Made in USA." products. If you buy products on line or from catalogs, you could contact these companies via email with a similar message. Your communicating with a company does have an effect because the rule of thumb in sales and marketing is that one reported customer complaint equals 100 unreported complaints. If you think that Americans no longer care about where goods are made or have concerns about the safety of foreign products, you may be surprised to learn that poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans prefer to buy American. A nationwide poll conducted by Sacred Heart University in September 2007 found the following: 68.6 percent of Americans check labels for information like manufacturer, nation of origin and ingredients 86.3 percent of Americans would like to block Chinese imports until they raise their product and food safety standards to meet U.S. levels. Buying American has been made even easier by a book by Roger Simmermaker - "How Americans Can Buy American: The Power of Consumer Patriotism" released in March 2008 and updated in 2010. According to Simmermaker, "buying American" is not just about buying "Made in USA." "Buying American, in the purest sense of the term, means we would buy an American-made product, made by an American-owned company, with as high a domestic parts content within that product as possible . . . 'American-made' is good. 'Buying American' is much better!" One of our greatest statesmen, Thomas Jefferson, stated, "I have come to a resolution myself, as I hope every good citizen will, never again to purchase any article of foreign manufacture which can be had of American make, be the difference of price what it may." Simmermaker has made it easy by listing companies and their nation of ownership. You can see his list of American-owned companies at his website: However, Simmermaker's website isn't the only one available. You can also check many other websites, found simply by "Googling" "buy American." These include: There are also brick and mortar stores springing up around the country that are either stocking only "made in America" products, such as the American Apparel stores or primarily "made in America" products, such as the Urban Outfitters stores. As American consumers, you have many choices to live safely and enjoy more peace of mind with American products. It's high time to stop sending our American dollars to China while they send us all of their tainted, hazardous, and disposable products. If 200 million Americans refuse to buy just $20 each of Chinese goods, that's a four billion dollar trade imbalance resolved in our favor - fast! As a Voter: There's only one way for manufacturers to find relief from high taxes, burdensome regulations, and unfair trade laws and that's through Washington, D.C. Voter apathy is partially responsible for the state of our affairs as a country. Too many people have decided that there is nothing we can do on an individual basis and have even stopped voting. Americans have been "sold down the river" by politicians on both sides of the aisle - Democrats and Republicans. Democrats profess to support "blue collar workers" and unions, yet NAFTA and the WTO treaties were approved and went into effect under the presidency of Democrat Bill Clinton. Republicans profess to support business, yet they primarily support large, multinational corporations, rather than the small businesses that are the engine of economic growth in the U.S. and the foundation of the middle class. In his 2008 book, "Where Have all the Leaders Gone" Lee Iacocca said, "Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind. The most famous business leaders aren't the innovators, but the guys in handcuffs. And, don't tell me it's all the fault of right wing Republicans or liberal Democrats. That's an intellectually lazy argument and it's part of the reason that we're in this stew. We're not just a nation of factions. We're a people and we rise and fall together. We didn't elect you to sit on your butts and do nothing and remain silent while our country is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? Why don't you guys in Congress show some spine for a change?" In a poll asking Americans if they've ever contacted their elected representatives, eight out of ten said that they never had. It's never been easier to contact members of Congress. All you have to do is click on or and type in your zip code, and you're automatically directed to your representative. A window automatically pops up where you can type a message to that representative. It takes less than two minutes, on average. Well, we now need to let our elected representatives know how we feel about the bad trade laws, bad tax laws, and over burdensome regulations on manufacturers. It's time to shed apathy, become involved, and vote. If people whose lives are affected by manufacturing would contact their legislators and tell them they want trade reform and tax reform and would follow up to watch to see how they voted, the results would be amazingly effective. We cannot afford to export our wealth and be able to remain a first-world country. We cannot lose our manufacturing base and be able to remain a "superpower." In fact, we may not be able to maintain our freedom as a country because it takes considerable wealth to protect our freedom. You can play a role as an individual in saving our country ─ the company you save or the job you save by your actions may be your own. 10/28/11
News It's Official: China Is Eating Our Lunch view Muir Macpherson, Bloomberg The non-oil U.S. trade deficit with all countries except China has dropped 59 percent since 2005. Soaring U.S. spending on Chinese imports has almost erased that headway. The Chart Of The Day shows that China now accounts for 72 percent of the overall U.S. trade deficit in goods, excluding oil. The trade deficit with China has grown 55 percent since 2005. China’s growing trade surplus with the U.S. has focused the attention of lawmakers in Washington on Beijing’s trade practices and exchange rate policies. “China willfully disregards its international obligations and impedes fair commerce,” said Michigan Republican David Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, at a hearing Oct. 25. The Senate passed a bill Oct. 11, 63 to 35, whichsponsors say is designed to punish China for manipulating its currency. A similar bill has 230 co-sponsors in the House, a majority of that body. Still, House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, voted against a House bill last year targeting China’s currency practices. He called the Senate bill “dangerous” and said it “poses a very severe risk of a trade war.” President Barack Obama’s administration said it shares the goals of the Senate legislation but has concerns about its consistency with U.S. obligations under World Trade Organization agreements. 10/28/11
News Whirlpool Doubles Profit, Hangs American Workers Out To Dry view Whirlpool saw its profits more than double over the last 3 months, but it's hanging American workers out to dry. The appliance maker is closing its Ft. Smith Arkansas plant, and that means nearly 1,000 people will lose their jobs. Whirlpool more than doubled its profits, but it's hanging American workers out to dry. The appliance maker is closing its Ft. Smith Arkansas plant, and that means nearly 1,000 people will lose their jobs. At the same time the maker of Maytag and Kitchen Aid appliances is washing its hands of its American workforce, its third quarter profits more than doubled from $77 million to $177 million, and its revenues rose, too, to $4.63 billion, with a "b." But apparently that's not enough to pay the Americans whose hard work and loyalty helped build Whirlpool into the world's largest appliance maker. Whirlpool CEO Jeff Fettig went into spin cycle, blaming the failure to meet the expectations of Wall Street bean counters on the recession and higher prices for steel and copper. Fettig exhibited all the warmth of an ice cube tray, lacking the common human decency to acknowledge he was talking about people let alone say thank you to the loyal workers he was dumping down the garbage disposal. Using the antiseptic vocabulary Adolph Eichmann would be proud of, referred to his extermination of jobs as "capacity reduction." 10/28/11
News VIDEO: Voters Slam Job-Killing Congressman view Voters blasted their member of Congress after he voted for job-killing outsourcing deals. See the video here. Congressman Charlie Rangel has a problem. He consistently votes for what's good for the Wall Street bailout banks, even though that might not be good for the people in his district. But then Rangel voted for the Korea and Panama outsourcing deals just days after praising the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. The demonstrators decided to tell the world who Rangel has really been representing in Congress: the outsourcers and tax cheats. See the video here. 10/28/11
News Obama Signs Unpopular Trade Deals In Secret view Pete Kasperowicz, The Hill Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) on Thursday morning criticized President Obama for quietly signing three free-trade agreements (FTAs) into law last Friday, saying the lack of any public ceremony surrounding the signings is evidence that Obama realizes Americans don't support these deals. "My colleagues and the American people might have missed it, because that's what the president wanted," Michaud said on the House floor. "The American people don't support more flawed trade agreements, so the President signed them into law quietly. "The White House issued no press releases, no statements, no photos were taken, no signing pens were publicly handed out," he added. Michaud is a noted critic of the free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, which Congress approved earlier this month and Obama signed into law on Friday. Obama supported the FTAs, and his decision not to hold a public signing ceremony was widely seen as a way to downplay an issue that Democrats have traditionally opposed, in large part because of their party's push for tougher labor and environmental standards in the agreements. Michaud went on to argue that if the FTAs will create jobs as Obama and other supporters argue, he should have had a big, public ceremony. "If these agreements are job creators the president promised us that they would be, then why wouldn't he have a public ceremony highlighting the signing of the FTAs?" he asked. "It's because these FTAs aren't going to create American jobs." "They might create jobs in Korea and China, but they won't create them here at home," Michaud concluded. "If I were the president, I'd want to keep these agreements quiet too." Read original post here. 10/27/11
News Barackalypse Now - White House Wants To Ship US Jobs To Vietnam view After betraying working Americans with three new outsourcing deals, the White House now wants to ship out more jobs - this time to Vietnam. President Obama's crack "trade" negotiator Ron Kirk told a gathering of multinational lobbyists he's eager to open our consumer market to Vietnam's state-owned enterprises. What's left of the American shoe industry, manufacturers like New Balance and Okabashi, say "The horror...the horror." 10/27/11
News Congressman Defends Buy American view Carl Meyer, Embassy The American lawmaker who may have stoked the fire of a potential Canada-US trade war is defending his efforts in the wake of a fresh crop of cross-border disputes. Democrat Chris Murphy, who represents Connecticut's 5th congressional district, originally wrote to United States President Barack Obama on Sept. 7 urging him to insert a Buy American provision in his administration's $447-billion American Jobs Act that would shut out foreign firms. The inclusion of that provision led to fresh questions in Ottawa whether the Harper government's efforts to sew up the Buy American issue in 2009-10 had any lasting effect—especially after US Ambassador David Jacobson called on Canadians on Oct. 18 to ignore the provision. Canada-US expert Chris Sands has called the new provision an "embarrassing defeat for Canadian diplomacy." In an exclusive interview with Embassy, Mr. Murphy said it wasn't lost on him that pushing for the provision would irritate the country's biggest trading partner. But he said his obligation was to protect jobs in his state. "We've been devastated by the private and public dollars out of Connecticut manufacturers," he said. "If I'm telling my constituents that I'm voting for a piece of legislation that's going to create jobs in the United States, I have to make sure I'm telling the truth." The bill has hit a wall of Republican opposition, but the White House has moved to implement it piece by piece, and is looking to enact some measures by executive order. That has groups like the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters worried that some of the pieces, like a proposed National Infrastructure Bank, would contain yet another Buy American provision. "I'm watching every appropriations bill...frankly this could pop up anywhere," said Birgit Matthiesen, CME's Washington-based senior adviser on US government relations, in an interview with Embassy. Trade Minister Ed Fast, who spent two days in Washington last week meeting with US officials, shot back at Mr. Jacobson that the Buy American provision was "wrong" when it first cropped up two years ago in a 2009 American stimulus bill, "and they remain wrong now." "With over eight million Americans depending on trade with Canada and over two million Canadian jobs depending on trade with the United States, trade-restrictive policies hurt us both," he said in a statement. But Mr. Jacobson said the provision was necessary to help along a bill that would ultimately benefit both countries' economies. Besides, he argued, the provision would be interpreted in accordance with international trade commitments. Mr. Murphy, meanwhile, pushed for a Buy American provision in part because he is fighting the impact of the US Department of Defense issuing hundreds of thousands of waivers from a previous Buy American law, which has led to roughly $53 billion going to overseas manufacturers, according to a press release from his office. And he told Embassy the latest provision was "nothing new to American purchasing policy." "There's been a group of us making a stink about the amount of US federal stimulus dollars that don't stay in the US economy. The administration knows that there's many of us worried that our economic stimulus often doesn't find its way to American companies and American taxpayers," he said. "We're not asking for a degree of protectionism that is different from what we've applied to US purchasing in the past." The 2009 US stimulus bill saw Canada spend a year in talks with the Americans, eventually culminating in a February 2010 deal that then-trade minister Peter Van Loan said showed the government had "stood up for Canadian businesses and workers." Canada got access to seven US stimulus projects, and in return allowed American companies to bid on Canadian provincial and municipal procurement contracts. Both sides also agreed to hash out a permanent deal in the future. But such a deal has so far not been negotiated. "What CME is calling for is a next 'big bang,' a next big agreement that gets us past these many, many battles that we always have to fight, and that is based on true reciprocity," said Ms. Matthiesen. She said her pitch to American officials has been that inserting Buy American provisions would only hand more of an argument to those in Canada and elsewhere who are calling for protectionist measures. "That's a slippery path nobody wants to go down," she said. A flurry of bilateral issues In addition to the latest Buy American flap, over the past few weeks the Canadian government has been forced to fight the US on several fronts. On Oct. 21, Mr. Obama signed into law a repeal of a Canadian exemption to a $5.50 US travelling fee for air and sea passengers, meaning all Canadians flying to or docking at US destinations must now pay the fee. Mr. Jacobson defended it in an Oct. 24 statement as "not in any way an action against Canada." But Mr. Fast shot back again in a statement the same day that "raising taxes at the border just raises costs on consumers." There was also the US Federal Maritime Commission's Oct. 6 vote that called for an inquiry into cargo ships on the British Columbia coast. As well, there is a push by the US Internal Revenue Service to track down dual citizens who have not filed tax returns in the US. Both issues were also tackled by Mr. Jacobson in his speech Oct. 18: he played down the cargo spat as simply a study, and assured Canadians that IRS officials are sympathetic to dual citizens that may have been broadsided by its latest drive. Then there is also the continued debate over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry Alberta crude to Texas. And all of these could threaten to derail the major Canada-US perimeter deal that had been expected to be wrapped up this fall. Experts say Mr. Jacobson was acting on orders from Washington to send a message to Ottawa officials to calm them in a period of several trade issues cropping up at once—right before the 2012 US presidential elections. Paul Frazer, a former Canadian diplomat who is a Washington-based specialist in government relations, said he suspected someone told Mr. Jacobson to broadcast the idea that "we've got to get through this together." "What the ambassador couldn't say clearly and easily is that this is really the silly season in Washington, all sorts of things are going to happen, and things are going to be said, and initiatives will be prompted, all because the presidential election is underway," he said. Mr. Frazer, who is also now the Canadian Chamber of Commerce's special adviser on Canada-US relations, argued Buy American provisions consistently fail to create any noise in the US capital. Canada-US expert Mr. Sands, who is a Hudson Institute senior fellow, agreed that while there has been a huge diplomatic effort on the Canadian side to address new provisions up front, the Americans have not taken the issue as seriously. He also said that Mr. Jacobson was thinking about 2012. "There's not going to be a lot of room to get anything done in an election year, as you can probably already tell. We need to put all our effort into at least getting these things going, and the last thing that we need is a fight on Buy American," he said. On the other hand, he said, the introduction of a new provision was a "pretty embarrassing defeat for Canadian diplomacy." Read original post here. 10/27/11
News George Washington Said "Buy American," Not Free Trade view The United States was founded in a trade war -- the Boston Tea Party. We continued the trade war when President George Washington repudiated free trade on July 4, 1789, by signing the Tariff Act for manufacture to build the nation's strong economy. Globalization has turned the trade war into an economy war; i.e. competing for trade, research, technology, development, production, and jobs. The people are frustrated that every country is competing in globalization except the United States. Corporate America has a sweet deal in China -- no labor, safety or environmental concerns; profits are predictable; no legacy costs; the VAT on exports is rebated, and, if profits are reinvested off-shore for more profits, no corporate tax. Corporate America doesn't want to have to come home and go to work. Wall Street, the big banks and Corporate America cry "free trade," "trade war" for fear that our government will compete in globalization and cut off their China profits. They want Congress to do nothing, and Congress obliges. So Corporate America develops a closed market in China as it cries "free trade," "trade war," back home. Steven Rattner's column in the New York Times is headlined "Manufacturing jobs won't come back." Germany, South Korea, and Japan have manufacturing motor vehicle jobs "coming back" all over the South. They use their value added tax to destroy Detroit -- trade war! Wake up, Washington! Stop the sing-song of no manufacture. A strong nation has to have a strong manufacture. Stop borrowing for mortgages and student loans. Compete in globalization. Stop begging Russia for helicopters and enforce our trade laws like the Defense Production Act. Protect the steel, motor vehicle, computer, and machine tool industries like Ronald Reagan. Get Corporate America creating jobs in the United States instead of off-shore. Take the tax benefit to off-shore jobs and give it to Corporate America to on-shore jobs; i.e. cancel the corporate tax and replace it with a 6% value added tax. Last year the corporate tax produced revenues of $194.1 billion. A 6% VAT for 2010 would have produced $700 billion. A VAT taxes consumption -- the more you spend the more you pay. Since the rich spend more, they pay more. Since the poor spend most of their money on food, health and housing, exemptions of $70 billion leaves $630 billion to pay down the debt. The VAT releases $1.2 trillion in off-shore profits to invest and create jobs in the United States. Congress can limit the repatriation of profits to jobs -- no bonuses. The VAT promotes exports, creating jobs. Since the VAT is self-enforcing, much of the I.R.S. can be eliminated, cutting the size of government. There are no loopholes in the VAT, so we have instant tax reform, eliminating the tax lobbyists, Grover Norquist, and pledges never to pay for government. The tax lobbyists will howl: "Too complicated; doubles the state sales tax." All false. In fact, replacing the federal corporate tax of 35% with a 6% VAT is a tax cut. The VAT is simple and effective. That's why 141 countries use a VAT to compete in globalization. The people have lost control of their government. Wall Street, the big banks, and Corporate America are the biggest contributors to the re-election of the Congress, and their lobbyists have seized control. Lyndon Johnson couldn't lead the Senate today. To return control to the elected representatives, we need to limit spending in campaigns. Congress limited spending in campaigns in 1973. President Nixon signed it into law, but the Supreme Court equated money with speech in Buckley vs. Valeo, reversing the law. Now with its decision in Citizens United, giving political speech to corporations, the 2012 election will be bought. A Constitutional amendment is necessary: "Congress is authorized to limit or control spending in federal elections." In 1973 Strom Thurmond and I were limited to so-much per registered voter. The amendment is permissive, allowing later Congresses to limit as they see fit. This will take time, but Occupy can get Congress to pass a Joint Resolution amending the Constitution this year. The States are ready to ratify. In the meantime, Occupy can pressure Congress to enact the VAT solution, which cuts taxes, eliminates lobbyists, gives instant tax reform, cuts the size of government, provides billions to pay down the debt, and creates millions of jobs. And President Obama can start enforcing our trade laws. Read original post here. 10/27/11
News Joe The Plumber Opposes "Free Trade" Agreements view He said politicians haven't adequately addressed problems like foreclosures and unemployment, and expressed frustration with both political parties for making things worse by passing free trade agreements and implementing heavy regulations. "I'm registered as a Republican, I'm going to run as a Republican, but by God, that doesn't encompass who I am because I want to represent all Americans, said Wurzelbacher, 37, of Holland, Ohio. If elected, he said he would strive to create an environment that would attract jobs to Ohio with a competitive tax rate and simple regulatory system. He said the current tax system needs be fixed, but "they keep on putting duct tape on it." "I am not the kind of plumber that uses duct tape," he said Wurzelbacher first came to public attention after asking presidential candidate Barack Obama a tax question during the 2008 presidential race. He later went on the campaign trail with GOP candidate John McCain and other GOP candidates. He will run for office in a congressional district that stretches along Lake Erie. Two Democratic incumbents - Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland and Marcy Kaptur of Toledo are seeking their party's nomination for the job. Read original post here. 10/27/11