Does this sound familiar?
“We have got to stop sending jobs overseas. It’s pretty simple: If you’re paying $12, $13, $14 an hour for factory workers and you can move your factory south of the border, pay a dollar an hour for labor,…have no health care—that’s the most expensive single element in making a car— have no environmental controls, no pollution controls and no retirement, and you don’t care about anything but making money, there will be a giant sucking sound going south.
…when [Mexico’s] jobs come up from a dollar an hour to six dollars an hour, and ours go down to six dollars an hour, and then it’s leveled again. But in the meantime, you’ve wrecked the country with these kinds of deals.”
These are the prophetic words spoken by Reform Party candidate for president Ross Perot during a live presidential debate in 1992. Perot ran as a businessman/Washington outsider who promised to bring some horse sense to the job and put an end to “all these one-way trade agreements” we’ve got with other countries. Sound familiar?
Twenty-four years later another man campaigned for office on the same basic message, but Donald Trump managed something that Perot could not – he won. And this week Trump gave clear signal that he has every intention of delivering on his campaign promise of renegotiating (or getting rid of) the North American Free Trade Agreement.As CNN Money reported:
President Trump gave formal notice Thursday he will renegotiate NAFTA, the free trade deal between the US, Canada and Mexico“Administration officials sent a letter to Congress that triggers a 90-day consultation period among the administration, Congress and business.
This means negotiations can begin at the earliest in August. This is the first step toward reshaping a trade deal that became law in 1994 and changed the face of trade in North America.
Trump has labeled NAFTA the worst trade deal in history. NAFTA took on a starring role during the election campaign last year, with Trump promising voters to either throw it out or renegotiate a deal he claims sent millions of US manufacturing jobs to Mexico.
“Since the signing of NAFTA, we have seen our manufacturing industry decimated, factories shuttered, and countless workers left jobless. President Trump is going to change that,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement Thursday.”
Trump’s notice to Congress kicks off a mandatory 90-day “consultation period” between the public, Congress and American businesses after which any renegotiations of the 23-year-old pact may begin. That would bring the expected start date for NAFTA talks to August 16. The president does have the authority to unilaterally withdraw the USA from NAFTA. Under the rules of the agreement he just has to give Canada and Mexico six months notice.
It would seem America’s auto manufacturers — the industry most heavily affected by the trade agreement (many vehicle assembly plants and parts supplier’s facilities are now based in Canada and Mexico)– are smiling on that announcement. Automotive News quotes an industry trade rep as saying, “Sectors like manufacturing, particularly with regard to Mexico, have fallen behind. When we lose manufacturing facilities, we lose the thousands of good-paying jobs associated with those facilities, directly impacting middle-class Americans.”
Automotive News also says The Association of Global Automakers backs the current administration’s plans to bring NAFTA up to date.
The Economic Policy Institute estimates that about 800,000 jobs were lost to Mexico between 1997 and 2013, citing in their 2014 piece NAFTA: Twenty Years After a Disaster “By any measure, NAFTA and its sequels has been a major contributor to the rising inequality of incomes and wealth that Barack Obama bemoans in his speeches.”
Of course NAFTA was signed by liberal hero Bill Clinton so naturally Democrats applauded it and loved it. In the years since its signing, hundreds of thousands of blue-collar, middle-class jobs have evaporated — most of those from ‘rust-belt’ states that Trump won. Rest assured those same Democrats will bemoan this move if for no other reason than because Trump is the one making it.
This altering or scrapping of NAFTA will undoubtedly result in the restoration of jobs, dignity, paychecks, ability to get off welfare, ability to take a summer vacation, etc. to thousands of middle-class American households. Those households once were and in some circles still are considered to be the Democrat base. The people whom the so-called “party of the poor” is “looking out for.” Yet to this very day many Democrats still cannot understand how they lost Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Iowa and a plethora of others they call “fly over” states.
The reason is simple. It’s because what you call “fly over” states, the rest of us call…”home.”
[Note: This article was written by Derrick Wilburn]