THE BLOG
10/12/2011 05:15 pm ET Updated Dec 12, 2011

Free Trade Deals Will Export American Jobs, Not American Products

In the midst of unprecedented long-term unemployment, I cannot support trade agreements that repeat the mistakes of previous trade deals that shipped millions of American jobs overseas and exploded our national trade deficit.

In the recent past, the American people were sold NAFTA and the Chinese-WTO deal with false promises of job growth and trade surpluses. NAFTA turned our trade surplus with Mexico into a $100 billion trade deficit and shipped 680,000 American jobs south of the border. Likewise, China's entry into the WTO in 2001 has displaced over 2.3 million workers. We cannot risk that the current promises of job creation will once again turn into more outsourced American jobs.

These proposed pacts will only escalate the global race for cheap labor in nations with poor human rights records. The Colombia deal will increase the availability of cheap labor with historically poor worker protections. Likewise, the proposed agreement with South Korea ensures that the United States would be flooded with products built not in Korea but with cheap Chinese and North Korean labor. The free trade agreement with Panama also adds additional barriers to American companies seeking contracts for projects expanding the Panama Canal. Furthermore, the agreement safeguards Panama's status as a notorious offshore haven for corporations that blatantly dodge U.S. tax laws and deprive our country of the revenue we need to reduce the deficit and strengthen our communities.

I support expanding trade, but we must do it in a way that reduces our devastating trade deficit and encourages job growth in our own country. We should not consider new trade agreements without also addressing currency manipulation by China, which could create up to 2.5 million American jobs. At the very least, these trade deals should be attached to actual jobs legislation, like the American Jobs Act, that will immediately create jobs here at home.

These trade deals must not be confused with the broader strategy we need to boost American exports and encourage job creation here at home. We must set the stage for businesses to build products and create jobs here by reforming our overly complicated tax code, investing in research and development, modernizing our outdated infrastructure, and preparing Americans to compete through education and training.

Passing these free trade agreements without a foundation for economic growth here at home will only continue to siphon away jobs from the American people. We need fair trade deals that are guided by American values and that make us more competitive and benefit American workers. Unfortunately, these free trade deals do not pass that test.