Rep. Phil Hare is all for improving the Trade Adjustment Assistance
program (TAA) by expanding benefits to service-sector workers
and those displaced because of trade imbalances with countries like
China and India. That's why he's excited the Senate Finance Committee may ...
Rep. Phil Hare is all for improving the Trade Adjustment Assistance program (TAA) by expanding benefits to service-sector workers and those displaced because of trade imbalances with countries like China and India. That's why he's excited the Senate Finance Committee may take up a TAA reform bill tomorrow. He's just not too thrilled that Republican leaders are insisting on pairing the legislation with the proposed Colombian free trade agreement that Speaker Nancy Pelosi tabled indefinitely earlier this year. Here's Hare's response:
Let me be clear. I strongly support modernizing TAA. I voted for the House bill and lobbied for many of the provisions in it. My constituents fully understand the real life consequences when bad trade deals are combined with an inadequate safety net for displaced workers.
But the completely unrelated Colombia FTA should remain dead. Trade unionists are being murdered at a rate of one per week in 2008. Yet few if any of the perpetrators are being brought to justice. America should have zero tolerance for this type of violence.
Passing the Colombia agreement—based on the job-killing NAFTA model—would actually force more Americans into TAA while sending a terrible message about our commitment to basic human rights.
Hare is right to fight the Colombian FTA. As he pointed out in April, 39 trade unionists were murdered in Colombia in 2007 and they're being killed at a rate of over one per week this year. What's more, of 2,500-plus murders in the country since 1986, only 68 cases -- around three percent -- have resulted in convictions. Some trading partner, eh?
Instead of pushing through more lobbyist-ridden legislation, Hare suggests Congress take up the TRADE act, which aims to make American trade deals more just and humane:
What Congress should be moving is the TRADE Act— legislation that mandates a review of existing trade agreements and a renegotiation of those agreements if necessary. It also sets the terms of what must be included in future trade deals—including strong, enforceable labor and environmental standards.
The American people are desperate for a new direction on trade—including a modernized TAA. The Colombia FTA simply continues the failed policies of the past. Tying the two measures together is a bad idea any way you cut it.