Sherrod Brown: “Get Trade Right” For The Middle Class

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, argued that “trade policy needs to adapt to global challenges” and “trade done right creates prosperity for the middle class” during a speech on the “Competitive Agenda for a Global Economy” at the Center for American Progress on Friday. Brown urged that now with goods and services trade accounting for nearly one-third of overall U.S. economic activity, we need to ensure that American business can compete at home and abroad.

He said that between 2000 and 2010, 60,000 plants in the U.S. were closed, and there were 5 million manufacturing jobs lost. This problem can be remedied and jobs can be created if we focus on three main goals, according to Brown: rebuilding investment and infrastructure, invest in workforce training, and enforce trade laws and combat currency manipulation.

Brown said that as of this year our infrastructure rates 25th in the world. He also argued that “infrastructure is a near-term job creator, which has effects that ripple through the economy.” Brown believes fast track trade authority (the authority of the President of the United States to negotiate international agreements that the Congress can approve or disapprove but cannot amend or filibuster) is an opportunity to “get trade right” and that with a strengthened role of Congress in the negotiation process we can create a “pro-growth, pro-jobs, competitiveness agenda”.

Brown noted that as our trade deficit with China has grown 34 percent this year, it is now more important than ever to focus on instituting what he calls a “trade policy that actually works.”

According to a 2011 Economic Policy Institute report, the growth in the U.S. trade deficit with China displaced 2.8 million U.S. jobs between 2001 and 2010 alone. According to Brown, it is time to act on the promise made in 2009 at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh and balance trade with tougher consequences for those engaging in currency manipulation. “Before we move on trade, currency has to be addressed,” Brown said.

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