WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, today joined six House leaders to state their strong opposition to a proposed trade agreement that they say was negotiated in secret and will hurt American workers. They promised to build a bipartisan coalition and work with organized labor, environmental groups and others to defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“Since 2001, the U.S. has lost more than 60,000 factories and millions of good-paying jobs,” Sanders said. “While not all of these losses can be attributed to trade policy, a lot of it can be. What corporations have done is shut down factories in this country and moved abroad where they pay workers pennies an hour. Forcing American workers to compete against Vietnamese workers who earn 56 cents an hour is a failed policy.”
Sanders said previous trade deals were touted as helping the economy but instead led to the loss of middle-class jobs. For example, Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China was supposed to create hundreds of thousands of American jobs but instead led to the loss of 3.2 million American jobs. Proponents said the North American Free Trade Agreement would create 200,000 American jobs but instead it cost 1 million American jobs. And the Korea Free Trade agreement, also promoted as a job creator, instead led to the loss of more than 50,000 American jobs. Besides the lost jobs, those deals have weakened our manufacturing sector and increased the cumulative trade deficit to more than $8.8 trillion since 1994.
Sanders also complained that the trade agreement, which is expected to come before Congress this year, was written in secret with the help of Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry and other multi-national corporate interests. The American public and members of Congress, however, were locked out of the process.