It has only taken 40 years or so, but economists have finally discovered that moving factories to China has killed U.S. manufacturing:
A generation of economists trained to believe that trade had little to do with the long decline in high-paying U.S. factory jobs is changing its mind.
Their findings are likely to fuel the opposition within President Barack Obama’s own Democratic Party to his proposed 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership and similar pacts lowering barriers to international commerce.
Because manufacturing employment as a share of the workforce has been dropping for more than 40 years and the same trend has affected other developed nations, including Japan, with far less liberal trade policies than the U.S., many economists had concluded that automation was the primary culprit.
But studies examining the impact of China’s entry to the World Trade Organization in late 2001 have made the case that between 1 million and more than 2 million of the 5 million American factory jobs lost since 2000 are traceable to low-cost imports.
***“The ‘aha’ moment,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist David Autor, “was when we traced through the industries in which China had surging exports to the local addresses of their U.S. competitors and saw the powerful correspondence between where China had surged and where U.S. manufacturing employment had collapsed.”
Democrats last week blocked fast-track trade-negotiating authority for Obama, though House Republicans Thursday passed alternative legislation to try to revive it.
‘Millions of Jobs’
Democrats and their allies in organized labor argue that trade deals kill jobs supporting a strong blue-collar middle class without providing offsetting benefits. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio said such agreements have “cost millions of jobs.” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said trade accords have “let subsidized manufacturers around the globe sell here in America while good American jobs get shipped overseas.”
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton echoed some of these concerns at a campaign stop in Iowa on Sunday without directly opposing trade legislation, saying “there should be no deal” unless terms are improved.
Their Exhibit A has been the North American Free Trade Agreement, which they say caused the exodus of hundreds of thousands of U.S. factory jobs to Mexico. But government statistics show that U.S. manufacturing employment actually rose during the five years after NAFTA took effect in 1994, temporarily reversing the long-term decline. An April 16 study by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service concluded that NAFTA “did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics.” (They’re lying to cover their asses.)
China is another matter.
In an April paper, economists Justin Pierce of the Federal Reserve and Peter Schott of Yale University found that the biggest U.S. manufacturing employment declines and largest surges in imports were in products for which China permanently locked in the greatest reductions in tariffs as part of its entry to the WTO. Industries such as apparel, leather goods, plastic plumbing fixtures and surgical and medical equipment sustained substantial hits, they concluded.
“Something big happens” around the time China entered the WTO, Schott said. “In fact, in the industries that were more affected, that’s where you see the job loss occurring.
‘‘That’s the smoking gun for the link with the policy,” he said.
Autor and two co-authors wrote a 2013 paper estimating that between 2000 and 2007 the U.S. lost 982,000 manufacturing jobs because of Chinese import competition.
And yet, Republican traitors in the House have just voted for legislation that will result in even more American jobs being lost. In fact, no one even knows what’s in it. Not that they have even read it:
You probably know by now that no normal Americans are allowed to see the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. It’s classified. Even members of Congress can only read it by going to secure reading rooms in the basement of the Capitol.
But here’s what you might not know: you’re not even allowed to know who in Congress has bothered to do this.
According to congressional staff members, the House Security Office and the Senate Security Office are responsible for supervising the reading of the TPP text. However, when I asked both offices, neither would answer any questions whatsoever, including:
- Which members have gone to the secure rooms to look at the TPP?
- Is there in fact a log of visiting members (as you’d assume with classified documents)?
- Is the secrecy concerning who’s looked at the TPP standard operating procedure for any classified documents, or is there something going on specific to the TPP?
- Are the House Security Office and the Senate Security Office even the people who know the answers to these questions?
So no one has read the bill, and no one even knows what’s in it. Yet Paul Ryan says that we get to see what is in the bill once they pass it:
The above image is being passed about increasingly throughout conservative blogs today following Paul Ryan’s demand that people wait to see what is in “Obamatrade” after it is passed.
The Ryan gaffe/insight to his true thoughts, took place after he was pushed by Republican Congressman Michael Burgess of Texas on why the process surrounding the TPP-related bills has been so secretive. (And as a sidenote, it HAS been very secretive. People refuse to speak on it – including those who normally share all kinds of information)
Ryan then gave this reply:
“It’s declassified and made public once it’s agreed to.”
Yeah, because that whole “We have to pass it so you can see what’s in it!” worked out so well the last time…