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Erik Paulsen, GOP lawmakers make pitch for free trade agreements

Rep. Erik Paulsen
Rep. Erik Paulsen

Paulsen said the trade deals will most help the state’s manufacturing sector, which he said makes up 90 percent of the 60,000 Minnesota jobs dependent on global trading markets.

“By passing these free trade agreements, we will reduce the barriers in these three countries, allowing 60,000 Minnesotans, and now others, the opportunity to find new sales and new customers for their products, giving the companies who employ them the opportunity to expand and start hiring again,” said Paulsen, who is the co-chair of the Congressional U.S.-Korea Free Trade Working Group.

The trade agreements, originally negotiated by the George W. Bush administration, with some tweaking from Obama, will help the United States stay competitive with Europe, Paulsen said, especially considering the European Union’s free trade agreement with South Korea that took effect over the summer.

“Today is a good day,” he said. “This is our opportunity to get back on a solid footing.”

Republicans have strongly supported the trade bills and have long called for Obama to bring them to Congress for approval. He did so only after getting Republicans to agree to vote on a program called Trade Adjustment Assistance, which provides job training and other benefits for Americans who lose their jobs to foreign workers.

The U.S. Trade Office has also worked to beat back opposition from labor groups and some Democrats on the grounds that the trade agreements will lead to fewer American jobs.

Other Democrats, among them Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, have concerns over human rights issues in Colombia, saying they may oppose that trade deal until the country institutes improved labor standards.

“This administration made sure that the trade deals … were balanced and fair and would both increase our trade opportunities, but do it in a way that protected American workers,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday. “There has been an issue of working with Congress, which we have done, to make sure that the whole process here takes place in a way that ensures that all four measures — the three free trade agreements and the TAA — are acted on.  And we’re confident that that will happen.”

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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 10/04/2011 - 09:53 am.

    Eric paulsen? Is he still in office?

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/04/2011 - 11:26 am.

    “Free trade” as it’s currently defined, wherein no protections for workers, for the general population, for the unique nature of the society of any nation, for the local environment, nor for the planet, can only lead to our mutual destruction.

    I would be ashamed to be so ignorant as to support such a thing.

    I would be far more likely to be in favor of “free trade” agreements if we were to wipe out all immigration rules so that workers would be completely free to move to where the highest wages are paid and the standard of living and environmental standards are highest – i.e. to places which promise workers the highest quality of life.

    Lacking that freedom for workers, so-called “free trade” agreements are simply a ruse to freely allow for those who desire to maximize profits in unjust and unethical ways – ways that impoverish workers and destroy the environment – ways that pretend that monetary “profits” are all that matter ;

    ways that pretend that those who make those “profits” have no responsibility to anyone else – not to the communities surrounding their places of business and their factories, not to the societies which educate their workers and provide the basic physical and social infrastructures which allow their businesses to exist, not to the planet from which all their wealth ultimately comes, not even to the God who is the ultimate owner of everything,

    to freely and without proper consequence abuse their fellow citizens and the planet.

    Such blind, short-sighted selfish and self-serving people never seem to comprehend, until it’s too late, that in destroying everyone else’s lives and the planet we share, they will eventually destroy their own lives, as well, creating a world in which they, themselves will not want (nor even be able) to live.

  3. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 10/04/2011 - 11:42 am.

    I have come to distrust the phrase “free trade agreement.” After all, our previous big free trade agreements resulted in an export, not of goods, but of jobs. I have no doubts that FAIR trade agreements can be made, but free trade agreements will never be fair to our workforce.

  4. Submitted by Mr. Larson on 10/04/2011 - 02:01 pm.

    Thanks Erik! This is good for MN business.

  5. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/04/2011 - 02:41 pm.

    How 20th century of him. Opposition to protectionism goes both ways. Current policy protects foreign trade from domestic competition, and that’s questionable policy to say the least.

  6. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 10/04/2011 - 03:53 pm.

    Seeking to create jobs for our own country’s unemployed workers is not “protectionism.” It’s basic self defense if our economy is to survive. Training is better than nothing, but is a poor substitute for a good job when there are few jobs available.

    The way to get off oil and into green energy while creating millions of good jobs is to build HERE the infrastructure to produce renewable energy. We would move into the future without having to depend on unstable (Middle East, North Africa) or economically delicate (Alberta, Alaska) regions of the world for oil.

    Congress would have to quit listening to the Koch Brothers, et al., however.

  7. Submitted by Doug Gray on 10/04/2011 - 07:01 pm.

    Congratulations and good luck to Rep. Paulsen. Protectionism has been tried; it has gone under the names of workers’ rights, environmental protection, support for domestic industry, aid for family farms and many others. For the results, see any account of global economic history covering the period from 1929 and afterwards.

    Should workers whose jobs are lost be compensated and retrained at government expense? Absolutely. Should all international borders be open to peaceful, productive individuals? You got it; crops will rot in Alabama fields this season for want of pickers. Should we do what we can to protect the environment, within reason? Spot on.

    Should we oppose freer trade because trade agreements are not perfect and never will be? Yes, provided only that what we really want is a second Great Depression.

  8. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/05/2011 - 06:07 am.

    “Protectionism has been tried; it has gone under the names of workers’ rights, environmental protection, support for domestic industry, aid for family farms and many others.”

    And free trade has been tried as well, very often with disastrous results. Our current policies protect foreign trade from competition by American workers. We must understand that free trade is a two way street and we should start electing politicians who understand that.

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