Congress moves closer to new free trade agreements

Congress moved closer to approving new free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea after a procedural vote in the Senate Monday afternoon.

By an 84–8 vote, the Senate passed a cloture motion on the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) — a trade measure that would allow 129 countries duty-free access to certain American goods. Business groups and Republicans have pressed for passage of the trade agreements, saying they will increase revenue and create jobs.

But the measure is not without partisan opposition.

It now heads back to the U.S. House, where an amendment providing assistance for American workers who lose their jobs because of free trade — known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) — will likely be attached. Democrats have made it clear their support of the free trade agreements hinges on inclusion of that amendment.

Sen. Max Baucus said the TAA was necessary to provide assistance and training to the unemployed, helping “them earn that dignity that comes with putting in a good day of work.”

But the free-market advocacy group Club for Growth has called the TAA “duplicative” and “overly generous” because the unemployed already qualify for 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.

“It’s inequitable and inappropriate because TAA pays benefits to workers who lose their jobs due to trade (something that’s difficult to calculate and susceptible to manipulation),” the Club for Growth said in a statement. “No benefits are due a worker who lost his job to technology or competition (something we also don’t advocate).

“Our country can neither afford this program, nor should the government be in the business of providing such a benefit.”

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  • Mofuman1

    Me thinks that our job woes started back with NAFTA and “free trade” with China. Time to vote in politicians who are pro-American!

  • Randelljbrewer

    Free Trade Agreements have virtually bankrupted this country. All they do is allow American jobs to be outsourced to 3rd world countries. That, and that alone, is the reason for MOST of the unemployment, and the nation’s deficit.

  • Hilo1390

    “Duty free” for those countries = more jobs leaving America.  The lobbyists are hard at work lining the pockets of our corrupt government officials.  VOTE THEM ALL OUT.

  • http://www.facebook.com/libby.gadsen Libby Gadsen

    Think how many jobs would be created if they dropped the Cuba embargo?

  • lenasais

    When it comes to unemployment it’s been a tale of two recessions, with level of education playing an unprecedented role in whether you’ve been pink slipped or not. Getting a degree from “High Speed Universities” is the only solution

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RIULEIYQNPVHRCHSKQKDRLYZFM FedUp

    Create new jobs?  In which countries?!  Certainly not the USA as we have seen from the last few “free trade agreements”  The fact they feel the need to include TAA to provide “assistance for American workers who lose their jobs because of free trade” … that kind of says it right there.