With a jobs crisis in this country, we need to do everything in our power to create jobs here in America and keep the jobs we have, not send them to other countries. That is why I voted against three trade deals this week that will trade good American jobs for no jobs at all.
While I agree with free and fair trade, I have yet to see anything fair about the free trade deals that have been enacted in our recent past. America has consistently gotten the short end of the stick, as trade deal after trade deal has resulted in the loss of our jobs and the decimation of our manufacturing industry in states like West Virginia.
I don't believe it should take a thousand-page document to get one country to treat another country with fairness. If we allow goods from South Korea, Columbia or Panama into our country with low or reduced tariffs, they should do the same for us, plain and simple.
The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the free trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama that the House and Senate passed this week and that I strongly oppose -- will result in 214,000 jobs being lost or displaced. West Virginians have already lost enough of their jobs because other countries don't compete fairly with America, and with this nation struggling, we can't afford to lose a single job more, let alone 214,000.
I will continue to oppose free trade deals that I believe fundamentally disadvantage the American worker. At the same time, I will continue to support Trade Adjustment Assistance, which I voted to extend in September. This critical program provides needed training, assistance and job opportunities for West Virginians and any American worker who has lost their job because of foreign trade. While workers look for new jobs, Trade Adjustment Assistance offers several benefits and services, including job training, job search and relocation allowances, income support, and assistance with health care premium costs.
I will also continue to champion measures that reign in the unfair actions of foreign countries who refuse to play by the rules. This week the Senate passed a bipartisan bill that would penalize China for manipulating their currency, a practice that has also cost America hundreds of thousands if not millions of good-paying jobs in manufacturing.
According to the National Association of Manufacturers, a total of 49,100 jobs were related to manufacturing in West Virginia in 2010, which equals 6.6 percent of the state's employment. In 2009, manufacturing constituted 9 percent of West Virginia's economy. While there are other factors contributing to this loss of manufacturing jobs, the Alliance for American Manufacturing says that 8,200 jobs have been lost in West Virginia because of the growing trade gap with China, which
By keeping the value of their currency the yuan artificially low, the Chinese government has been able to reduce the price of their imports. According to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, some estimates say the yuan is undervalued by as much as 40 percent when compared with the U.S. dollar. This practice gives China an unfair trade advantage over foreign competitors. As a result, America's goods have become comparatively more expensive, which has led to a trade gap with China we're buying more of their goods than they are buying of ours.
In 2001, this country's trade deficit with China was $83 billion, and it grew to a record $273 billion in 2010. According to the Economic Policy Institute, 2.8 million American jobs were lost or displaced during that decade because of the trade gap.
To me, that sounds like we have a lot to gain by getting China to play by the rules.
West Virginia is home to some of the hardest working people in the world, and we can compete with anyone as long as the playing field is fair. Unfair trade deals and China's currency manipulation have crippled our manufacturing sector and left a lot of good people without work.
I will continue to fight for West Virginia's best interest when it comes to this nation's trade policy with other countries, and to push for commonsense solutions that will rebuild America and put our people back to work.