Trade was on lots of minds yesterday, too — OK, so we teed it up, asked a lot of questions. But since our buddy Lou was on the Hill yesterday bloviating on the topic, it was fresh in our minds. Here’s what some of the assembled GOP had to say about trade:
Pete Sessions (R-TX): Free trade agreements have been a centerpiece of the Republican strategy to grow our economy, to become competitive with the world and to be on the leading edge. If you don’t seek out new opportunities to sell you products, you will find out that your ability to grow your business dwindles. Over 95% of the world’s customers live outside the US. We need to take our products to them. Free trade agreements reduce tariffs, which are taxes. We want to enhance the economies of the world. We’ve done this through FTA’s and US trade policy. On March 2, there was an article in the Financial Times that noted that the 25 EU countries now have a combined GDP that equals that of the US in 1985. Look at employment, productivity, R&D — the US has taken the lead. The Republican philosophy of trading with the world and lowering taxes works. The things that Europe does are high taxes, more rules and regulations and single-payer on health care. This has been a drag on their economies. The US still stands as the shining city on the hill because of our philosophies.
Eric Cantor (R-VA), Chief Deputy Whip: This is a critical week. If we’re going to renew trade promotion authority (TPA), “time is ticking” The White House is in lengthy consultations. We all should be for opening markets abroad, because …that’s how we lead. However, you see Sandy Levin and others on that side of the aisle insisting that we inject ILO standards. This is a huge departure from our existing stand. This may tie our competitive hands behind out backs if we go down this road. But Pelosi and Levin seem determined to keep their commitment to big labor on that.
Mark Kirk (R-IL): Trade has lifted the middle class more than anything else. My district has two of the biggest exporters, Boeing and Motorola . Hank Paulson today noted that trade lifts people in their income, and benefits are spread widely. But closures, bankruptcies are concentrated, gain press attention, mis-state what’s happening in the economy.
Charlie Dent (R-PA): Companies that are most dynamic, growing steadily over the years have embraced open markets. You can’t simply sell to the North American market.
Kevin Brady (R-TX): When American companies get to compete, they find the world is titled against them. We need to stay in this game. Countries can adopt ILO core standards or meet our US labor laws. That’s the GOP compromise. It’s Lewis and Clark days in the world, every country is out there staking a claim to new markets. We can’t take ourselves off the trade field and expect to compete.
Jim Jordan (R-OH): Honda, Whirlpool are in my district. We understand the importance of trade. Trade means opportunity. These are the jobs you want in your dist.