Trade Deals Pass Congress - China Currency Bill More Important Than Ever

Posted on 14 October 2011

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By Dave Johnson
Campaign for America's Future

Congress just passed three more NAFTA-like trade deals, so our country's trade deficit is going to get even worse. And pressure on working people to accept pay and benefit cuts and longer and harder working hours is going to get even worse. And the rewards to the top 1%, at the expense of the rest of us, are going to get even greater. But we can still win the fight over China's manipulation of its currency. If we win this it lessens te difference between prices of goods made there and goods made here and can bring some jobs, factories, countries, industries and wealth back to the 99% of our country that doesn't benefit from these trade deals.

Message Of Trade Deals -- Loud And Clear

The message of these trade deals is loud and clear: shut up and accept pay and benefit cuts and longer and harder working hours. And if you don't like it we will move your job to a country where working people can't complain. In fact, labor leaders are regularly murdered in Columbia, one of the countries that Congress just approved a trade deal with. If approving a trade deal with a country in which labor leaders are killed for trying to make things better for working people doesn't send a loud and clear message to working people here, I don't know what does.

China Currency

China manipulates its currency to keep it "weak" (low) compares to the "strong" dollar. This means that goods made in China cost much less - up to 40% less - than goods made here, even before any wage differentials, exploitation of the environment, trade cheating, special subsidies and other trade violations are taken into account. China does this in order to capture the jobs, factories, companies and industries that make a country strong. We have let them do this for many years, leading to the economic situation we find ourselves in today.

One reason this continues is that big companies can threaten workers here with moving a job or factory there if they don't go along with big cuts in wages and benefits and working standards -- or just move the factory or company to take advantage of the differential. This benefits a wealthy few in the short term, and China in the long term after those wealthy few have sold the rest of out and cashed out for themselves.

This trade situation with China, while greatly enriching the top 1% here (and there), has hurt the rest of us so much, and drained so much wealth from the country, that even some Republicans are willing to support doing something about it. There are 61 cosponsors of the bill to confront China over their currency manipulation!

Wall Street Sides With China

The Club For Growth, a Wall Street front group, has made the China currency bill a "litmus test." They have said they will oppose any Republicans who vote for it, siding with America against China. From Politico recently, Club for Growth warns GOP on China currency bill,

The influential Club for Growth is pressuring Republican presidential candidates and lawmakers to oppose bipartisan legislation cracking down on China’s currency policies.

...The Club for Growth has urged lawmakers to vote no on the bill, warning that the vote will be included in the group’s 2011 Congressional Scorecard, used to measure how fiscally conservative they are.

The Wall Street group says we should instead pass tax cuts, deregulate controls over how businesses behave toward the environment, workers, customers and their communities, and get rid of unions so the United States can be more like China, which they say would brings companies back.

What To Do

We need to get the bill voted on in the House of Representatives. Speaker Boehner is siding with China and refusing to let this bill come up for a vote. But there is a "discharge petition" circulating that can force the bill to the floor for a vote. Click here for a list of 61 Republicans who cosponsored this bill but have not signed the petition to bring it up for a vote. Call these 61 Representatives and tell them you want them to help bring the bill to the House floor for a vote.


Dave Johnson is the founder and principal author at Seeing the Forest, a web magazine investigating how the right is beating the Democrats. He is a fellow at the Commonweal Institute, a Board of Directors member of Media Transparency, an advisor to The Philanthropy Network, and a member of the Netroots Advisory Council of the Drum Major Institute. Dave Johnson blogs for Campaign for America's Future. This piece originally appeared on Campaign for America's Future.