Bernie Sanders on Free Trade

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Don't believe that unfettered trade creates U.S. jobs

SANDERS: I do not believe in unfettered free trade. I believe in fair trade which works for the middle class and working families, not just large multinational corporations. I was on the picket line in opposition to NAFTA. We heard people tell us how many jobs would be created. I didn't believe that for a second because I understood what the function of NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China, and the TPP is, it's to say to American workers, hey, you are now competing against people in Vietnam who make 56 cents an hour minimum wage. This is an area where the secretary and I have disagreements

I disagree with Obama on TPP, but he's done a great job

SANDERS: If we remember where this country was seven years ago, 800,000 jobs lost monthly, $1.4 trillion dollar deficit, the financial system on the verge of collapse. I think that President Obama has done a fantastic job. Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yes, but I disagree with him on issues including the trade agreement, but I think he has done an excellent job.

I will take on corporations that take their jobs to China

There are many corporations who have turned their backs on the American worker, who have said, if I can make another nickel in profit by going to China and shutting down in the United States of America, that's what I will do. I will do my best to transform our trade policy and take on these corporations who want to invest in low-income countries around the world rather than in the United States of America.

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Does not support ANY free trade agreements

SANDERS: I voted against NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China. I think they have been a disaster for the American worker. A lot of corporations that shut down here move abroad. Working people understand that after NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China we have lost millions of decent paying jobs. Since 2001, 60,000 factories in America have been shut down. We're in a race to the bottom, where our wages are going down. Is all of that attributable to trade? No. Is a lot of it? Yes. TPP was written by corporate America and the pharmaceutical industry and Wall Street. That's what this trade agreement is about. I do not want American workers to competing against people in Vietnam who make 56 cents an hour for a minimum wage.

Q: So basically, there's never been a single trade agreement this country's negotiated that you've been comfortable with?

SANDERS: That's correct.

China trade has led to loss of 3M American jobs so far

Q: What does Bernie's track record look like with regard to Chinese trade policy?

A: Time and time again, Bernie has voted against free trade deals with China. In 1999, Bernie voted in the House against granting China "Most Favored Nation" status. In 2000, Bernie voted against Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China which aimed to create jobs, but instead lead to the loss of more than 3 million jobs for Americans.

Q: Maybe these trade agreements aren't all great for Americans, but don't they provide millions of jobs for Chinese workers?

A: Bernie firmly rejects the idea that America's standard of living must drop in order to see a raise in the standard of living in China.

Q: So what does Bernie propose we do?

A: Instead of passing such trade deals again and again, Bernie argues we must "develop trade policies which demand that American corporations create jobs here, and not abroad."

Priority of trade deals should be helping American workers

Bernie Sanders believes that the top priority of any trade deal should be to help American workers. Unfortunately, as Bernie has warned year after year, American trade policy over the last 30 years has done just the opposite. Multinational corporations- who have helped to write most of these trade deals--have benefited greatly while millions of American jobs have been shipped overseas. American trade policy should place the needs of American workers and small businesses first.

Base trade policy on working families, not multinationals

clip_image005Q: The president says that expanding trade helps service industries & opens new markets. You talk about workers that would lose their job from trade. They say this will open up markets that will increase jobs.

SANDERS: I have been hearing that argument for the last 25 years. I heard it about NAFTA. I heard it about CAFTA. I heard it about permanent normal trade relations with China. Here is the fact. Since 2001, we have lost almost 60,000 factories and millions of good-paying jobs. I'm not saying trade is the only reason, but it is a significant reason why Americans are working longer hours for low wages and why we are seeing our jobs go to China and other low-wage countries. And, finally, what you're seeing in Congress are Democrats and some Republicans beginning to stand up and say, maybe we should have a trade policy which represents the working families of this country, that rebuilds our manufacturing base, not than just representing the CEOs of large multinational corporations.

Wrong, wrong, wrong that trade deals create jobs here

Q: As secretary of state, Clinton said she favored a trade deal with our 11 Pacific partners & fast track authority to make that happen. Is that an issue for you?

SANDERS: In the House and Senate, I voted against all of these terrible trade agreements, NAFTA, CAFTA, permanent normal trades relations with China. Republicans and Democrats, they say, "oh, we'll create all these jobs by having a trade agreement with China." Well, the answer is, they were wrong, wrong, wrong. Over the years, we have lost millions of decent paying jobs. These trade agreements have forced wages down in America so the average worker in America today is working longer hours for lower wages.

Q: So, is that a litmus test for you, to see whether or not Clinton is going to come out against the TPP?

SANDERS: I hope very much the secretary comes out against it. I think we do not need to send more jobs to low wage countries. I think corporate America has to start investing in this country and create decent paying jobs here.

End disastrous NAFTA, CAFTA, and PNTR with China

Since 2001 we have lost more than 60,000 factories in this country, and more than 4.9 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs. We must end our disastrous trade policies (NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China, etc.) which enable corporate America to shut down plants in this country and move to China and other low-wage countries. We need to end the race to the bottom and develop trade policies which demand that American corporations create jobs here, and not abroad.

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Stop TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Trade Policies that Benefit American Workers:
Since 2001 we have lost more than 60,000 factories in this country, and more than 4.9 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs. We must end our disastrous trade policies (NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China, etc.) which enable corporate America to shut down plants in this country and move to China and other low-wage countries. We need to end the race to the bottom and develop trade policies which demand that American corporations create jobs here, and not abroad.

[We should also] sign the petition to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership--another trade deal disaster.

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How can we compete against people who make 23 cents an hour?

Are American workers going to be able to compete against desperate people who make 23 cents an hour?

I asked the guy who was in charge of all the Walmarts in Asia--I asked him a simple question: Tell me, how many of these American company products are actually manufactured in the United States?

He was a little bit sheepish and a little bit hesitant and he said: Well, about 1 percent. Obviously, what everybody knew, it is a lot cheaper for the American companies to set up plants in China, hire Chinese workers at 50 cents an hour, 75 cents an hour, whatever it is, and have them build the product for the Chinese markets than it is to pay American workers $15 an hour, $20 an hour, provide health insurance, deal with the union, deal with the environment.

That is not a great revelation. I think anybody could have figured that one out. But the big money interests around here pushed it and Congress and President Clinton, at that time, signed it and we were off and running.

Disastrous trade policies lead to collapse of middle class

I think one of the reasons unemployment is so high, one of the reasons the middle class is collapsing, has a lot to do with these disastrous trade policies. All this stuff emanates from corporate leaders whose sense of responsibility is such that they want themselves to become richer, they want more and more profits for their company, but they could care less about the needs of the American people.

I remember there was one CEO of a large, one of our largest American corporations, and he said: "When I look at the future of General Electric, I see China, China, China, and China." By the way, we ended up bailing out that particular corporation. He didn't look to China to get bailed out, he looked to the taxpayers of this country.

But the word has to get out to corporate America, they are going to have to start reinvesting in the United States of America. They are going to have to start building the products and the goods the American people need rather than run all over in search of cheap labor.

NAFTA was a sellout to corporate America

At the very same time as health care was on the congressional agenda. Clinton pushed another issue to the forefront. And on the major initiative, Clinton was just plain wrong--very wrong. His support for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was a sellout to corporate America. Pure and simple, it was a disaster for the working people of this country.

The US currently has a trade deficit of $114 billion. Economists tell us that $1 billion of investment equates to about 18,000 (often decent-paying) jobs. Connect the dots. Our current trade deficit is causing the loss of over 2 million jobs. Over the last 20 years, while the US has run up over a trillion dollars in trade deficits, millions of American workers have been thrown into the streets.

The function of trade agreements like NAFTA is to make it easier for American companies to move abroad, and to force our workers to compete against desperate people in the Third World.

NAFTA, GATT, and MFN for China must be repealed

What about the hemorrhage of jobs abroad? Can we do anything about the disastrous effects of the global economy on American workers? According to the experts, no. But the experts echo the message their employers want us to hear.

We need to address the issue of trade forthrightly and understand that our current trade policy is an unmitigated disaster. Our current record-breaking merchandise trade deficit of $112 billion is costing us over 2 million decent paying jobs. NAFTA, GATT, and Most Favored Nation status with China must be repealed, and a new trade policy developed.

Let's look at some of the components of a sensible trade policy. First, we must recognize that trade is not an end in itself. The function of American trade policy must be to improve the standard of living of the American people. America's trade policy must be radically changed, by committing ourselves to a "fair" rather than "free" trade policy.

Voted YES on withdrawing from the WTO.

Vote on withdrawing Congressional approval from the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization [WTO].

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Source : Bernie Sanders on Free Trade