(Senate - October 13, 2011)

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[Pages S6498-S6499]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                             TRADE MEASURES

  Mr. BROWN of Ohio. Mr. President, this Chamber considered trade 
measures this week for the first time in about 4 years. First, and most 
important, the bipartisan currency measure passed by an overwhelming 
majority, 63 to 35. This action on China's currency is long overdue. 
This is legislation of which I was the prime sponsor. We had major 
cosponsors in both political parties: Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, 
a Republican; Chuck Schumer of New York, a Democrat; Debbie Stabenow 
from Michigan, a Democrat; Jeff Sessions from Alabama, a Republican; 
Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine; Kay Hagan, a Democrat from 
North Carolina; Bob Casey, Democrat from Pennsylvania. This was a 
strong bipartisan bill. My junior Senator, Rob Portman from Ohio, 
former Trade Representative under President Bush, supported the 
  Basically it works this way. We know the kinds of job losses in 
places such as Duluth, MN or Toledo, OH, because China cheats. Pure and 
simple, they cheat. They depreciate or overappreciate their currency, 
making a weaker renminbi. That is the name of their currency term. When 
a company in Dayton, OH, or Youngstown, OH, sells a product into the 
Chinese market that the people of Xian or Wuan might consider buying, 
this company is faced with a 25- to 30- to 35-percent currency tax, 
currency tariff, making the product more expensive, making it much 
harder for the U.S. company to sell the product to China. At the same 
time going back the other way, the company in China, or the government 
in some cases, selling into the U.S. market gets a 25-, 30-, 35-percent 
subsidy, making it so much easier to sell.
  I will give one perfect example, a regrettable example. There is a 
company about 20 miles from where I live in Brunswick, OH, owned by the 
Bennett Brothers whom I met fairly recently in Cleveland, 25 miles 
outside of Cleveland, called Automation Tool and Die. The Bennett 
Brothers had a million dollar sale that they thought they were about to 
fill and at the last minute a Chinese company came in and underpriced 
them by 20 percent. That was the currency subsidy that Chinese company 
had. What is fair about that?
  I learned today a paper company in Hamilton, OH, right smack in the 
middle of the home county and home district of the Speaker of the 
House, announced its closing. One of the main factors was low-cost 
imports from China.
  When it comes to paper, here is what the Chinese do. They buy their 
pulp in Brazil, they ship it from Brazil to Chinese paper mills--in 
some sense across two oceans. They mill it, they ship it back to the 
United States, and yet they underprice us. Even though labor is 10 
percent of the cost of paper production, they underprice us because 
apparently they subsidize water and energy and land and capital, plus 
they get this 25-percent currency subsidy.
  Our trade deficit with China, which has more than tripled in the last 
decade after China was let into the World Trade Organization, pledging 
to follow the rule of law but breaking that pledge every day of the 
year--our trade deficit with China, now $275 billion for the year, has 
risen through the economic food chain all the way through advanced 
technology products. What used to be made in China 10 years ago was 
similar--the Presiding Officer remembers growing up in Minnesota in the 
1950s and 1960s when ``Made in Japan'' always used to mean something 
was cheap and sort of badly made. ``Made in China'' 10 years ago 
usually meant the cheapest products, the tchotchke kind of products. 
Today, with ``Made in China,'' they have worked their way up the 
technology chain so they compete with our wind turbine component 
production and they compete on all kinds of high-level kinds of goods.
  In addition to paper, steel, aluminum, glass, and cement, all the 
things that have created the middle class in my State for decades, we 
are competing with China for jobs in solar and wind and clean energy 
component manufacturing and in the auto supply chain. We can compete on 
productivity. We have skilled workers. We have world-class 
infrastructure--although God knows it needs renovation and 
modernization. But how do you compete against an automatic across-the-
board 25- to 30-percent subsidy?
  I thank my colleagues this week for voting for that legislation--63, 
including the Presiding Officer's support--including the support to 
manufacturing. We need to pass that bill in the House of 
Representatives. The Speaker of the House has so far said he is not 
inclined to bring it up. I think the White House has so far not 
supported this legislation, but we know the kind of broad bipartisan 
support it has and how important it is so we can begin to reenergize 
manufacturing in this country.
  At the same time we took a step back this week, after the China trade 
currency bill, which was very progressive, important legislation for 
our manufacturing--we took a step back by passing trade deals with 
Colombia, South Korea, and Panama that will do more harm than good.
  It is kind of amazing. Probably the too often used quote from 
Einstein where he said the definition of insanity is doing the same 
thing over and over and expecting a different result is exactly what 
has happened in trade agreements. Go back 20 years--18 years, in 1993, 
President Clinton--mimicking President Bush, who had negotiated the 
agreement--said the North American Free Trade Agreement would create 
200,000 jobs in our country quickly. We have lost 600,000 net jobs 
because of NAFTA. That same model of NAFTA with investor-state 
relations--with investor-state provisions and other things, gave rise 
to the Central America Trade Agreement and other agreements that cost 
us jobs. Every time the administration--either party, it doesn't 
matter--promises these trade agreements will create jobs, they never 
do. This body, again--Colombia, North Korea, Panama--a strong majority 
of Senators again bought that line, ``Hey, this is going to create 
jobs,'' and it never does.

  The same promises, businesses promise jobs will increase exports. 
They only talk about half of it. They say NAFTA, CAFTA, the Korea Free 
Trade Agreement, the Panama Free Trade Agreement, Colombia Free Trade 
Agreement, are going to mean more exports. Talking only about exports 
is like telling a baseball score and only reporting half of the score. 
Yesterday, the season obviously mercifully ended for the home team of 
the Presiding Officer, but it is like saying yesterday the Twins scored 
eight runs. Good for them, but the Indians scored 12. But they only 
told you about the Twins' runs. You don't report baseball scores that 
way. You report scores like the Twins got 12, the Indians only got 8, 
and it was 12 to 8 or the Tigers won 3 to 2.
  With trade, the people who support these trade agreements are the 
same ones who say it lets us increase the exports. Maybe it is, but 
imports are increasing much more dramatically.
  President Bush once said $1 billion in trade surplus or trade deficit 
translated into 13,000 jobs. If you have a $1 billion trade deficit, if 
you are selling more than you are buying, that creates 13,000 jobs. If 
you are buying more than you are selling, if you have a $1 billion 
trade deficit, you lose 13,000 jobs. You know our deficit is in the 
range of $600 billion. Do the math. Each time we

[[Page S6499]]

pass one of these trade agreements--and it will probably happen with 
Korea and Colombia and Panama--each time we do it, the trade deficit 
rises. Our trade deficit with China has more than tripled. Before NAFTA 
we had a trade surplus with Mexico and small trade deficit with Canada. 
After NAFTA, which was a trade agreement among the United States, 
Canada, and Mexico, the trade deficit with Canada exploded. The trade 
surplus with Mexico went from a surplus to a deficit. We know this does 
not work.
  We have a serious jobs crisis on our hands, 14 million people out of 
work. We hear Senators talking about that all the time--another 15 
million underemployed or stopped searching for work. The economy must 
have 150,000 new jobs each month simply to keep up with population 
growth. So what do we do? We add a Korea agreement, a Colombia 
agreement, a Panama agreement, none of which will create jobs. They 
never do. They promise them, but they never do. That is because these 
trade agreements do not tell the whole story about how a trade agenda 
can actually create jobs.
  I want trade, I want more trade. I think the American people want 
more trade, but the American people know these trade agreements don't 
serve us as a nation. It is impossible. I know you hear this in Duluth, 
you hear it in Rochester, you hear it in Minneapolis. I hear it in 
Cincinnati, I hear it in Columbus, I hear it in Zanesville. When 
unemployment is far too high, our constituents demand that Washington 
do its job and help folks get back to work.
  We tried to do that this week on another issue and that was the 
President's jobs bill. When I heard Senator McConnell, the Republican 
leader, say--it is almost a direct quote--my No. 1 goal in 2011 and 
2012 is to make sure Barack Obama doesn't get reelected--I never heard 
a leader in the U.S. Senate to my knowledge in history ever say that 
was his No. 1 goal. Of course, the Presiding Officer and I will support 
Barack Obama. That is what happens in politics--you hear the leader of 
one political party say my No. 1 goal is to defeat the sitting 
President of the United States. And he rounds up his troops to vote no 
against any job creation bill that President Obama offers. In fact, he 
didn't just vote against this bill and led every Republican to do that, 
he led his Republican troops to say: No, we are not going to let it 
come to the floor to be debated.

  Senator Cardin was speaking earlier, and I was presiding. He was 
incredulous in many ways--that the leader of one party would say on the 
jobs bill, of all things, we are not even going to allow it to come to 
the floor to debate and offer amendments. Senator Cardin had several 
amendments I thought sounded like a good idea. A lot of us have 
amendments to the jobs bill, and we wanted a chance to offer them. Yet 
Republicans--because of this dysfunctional rule that we have to have 60 
votes to even put up a bill for debate--the Republicans say: No, we are 
not even going to debate it.
  Let me take one part of that bill that is particularly important. The 
average U.S. public school building is 40 years old. Many are older; 
some are newer. The average public school building is 40 years old. I 
know what I preach to my kids. I know what my neighbors preach. I know 
what we preach as politicians. I know what almost everybody says in 
this country. We say to our children and the pages--people who are 15, 
16, 17 years old--education is the most important goal to pursue, the 
most important in our country.
  What do we do? We send them to crumbling old school buildings that 
are not easy places in which to learn. It is pretty clear that when the 
average school building is 40 years old, it is going to cost real money 
to fix them. Conservative estimates suggest it would cost $270 billion 
to maintain and repair them.
  With the slowly recovering economy, we know that too many school 
districts have been forced to cut budgets and lay off teachers, let 
alone make improvements to our schools. I introduced Fix America 
Schools Today, the FAST Act, that would help localities make critical 
repairs to schools. It will support more than 12,000 jobs in Ohio.
  I introduced the bill a few weeks ago. Soon after, the President was 
at Fort Hayes Public School in Columbus, OH, in the central part of my 
State. The President talked about the FAST Act, about how we should do 
school renovation as part of his jobs bill.
  I would plead with my colleagues on the Republican side of the 
aisle--the same colleagues who worked with me on a bipartisan basis to 
pass the biggest bipartisan jobs bill, the China currency bill of this 
session--to work on this bill. At least, if they will not let us debate 
the jobs bill as a whole, let us pass the Fix America's Schools Today, 
the FAST Act, it will make the kinds of repairs--it will create jobs 
because workers will rebuild these schools and renovate them. It will 
create jobs in manufacturing as companies all over my State that make 
steel, plastic, cement, and brick will go to work to create and make 
these products, and it will lay the groundwork for prosperity.
  We know in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the United States of 
America built infrastructure the likes of which the world had never 
seen. That is why we had that kind of prosperity in this country. When 
the Presiding Officer and I were in high school and college and were 
young adults, we had that kind of prosperity brought about because we 
had the best infrastructure in the world. We have to rebuild and 
modernize the infrastructure to create opportunities for young people. 
We need to pass the FAST Act. It will make such a difference for our 
country in the years ahead.
  I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. REID. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. McCaskill). Without objection, it is so