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  • Guest Blogger: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) on Free Trade

    For two decades, the word “trade” has been a dividing force in Congress.

    Its supporters, like me, see trade as a boon to our economy. As the free leader of the world, the U.S. is also one of the largest trading nations, supporting millions of American workers and millions of American jobs.

    Increased trade is good for America. In the past decade, U.S. exports have nearly doubled to $2 trillion a year. More exports from the U.S. can increase production of American-made products, spurring and stabilizing local jobs while supporting small business and increasing consumer choice.

    In my home state of Texas, over 20,000 small and medium-size businesses rely on exporting goods and 1 in 5 manufacturing jobs relies on trade.

    Along the southern border, Laredo, Texas, the nation’s largest inland trade post and 6th largest trade port, has experienced a stabilizing effect in local unemployment, in large part due to trade. While national unemployment hovers at or near 10%, Laredo’s unemployment has remained steady at 8.6% despite a 30% poverty rate.
    Everyday, $1 billion is generated in trade between the United States and Mexico, with 10,000 trucks crossing Laredo’s border every 24 hours. American goods are exported to Mexico as important Mexican goods move into the United States.

    Trade like this helps keep our food prices down. America exported more than $100 billion worth of agriculture products in 2009, supporting a $30 billion agriculture trade surplus here at home.

    In a time of rising deficits and widespread unemployment, trade continues to generate revenues and jobs for the United States. These are revenues that we’d otherwise have to make up with widespread tax hikes or with jobs we’d struggle to recreate.

    This week, President Obama released his annual trade policy agenda and I applaud the President for recognizing that increasing exports has the potential to create 2 million jobs in the next 5 years. However, more can and should be done. That’s why I support implementing three important free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and Korea.

    The economic opportunities from passing these FTAs will spark new heat in the nation’s economic engine.

    To pass these and other future trade agreements, both sides of the aisle must come together and forge a consensus putting the American economy first.
    That’s why I’ve formed a bi-partisan Pro-Trade Caucus in Congress dedicated to building a bi-partisan coalition to advance an international trade policy that keeps America competitive. By leveling the playing field with 21st Century trade deals, we increase American exports abroad and spur job creation here at home.
    There’s a growing global market share waiting for the U.S. to grab a hold. And there’s no time, nor good reason, to wait.

    (Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) is currently serving his third term in Congress. In 2009, he founded the Pro-Trade Caucus to help advance bipartisan efforts to expand American trade. As a native to Laredo, Texas, Congressman Cuellar has been a long-time advocate for trade and represents the nation’s largest inland trade post. He also serves as the House Homeland Subcommittee Chairman on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism.)

    The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to Guest Blogger: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) on Free Trade

    1. R. Lawson, Florida says:

      Free trade leader of the world? How about trade-deficit leader of the world? Free trade has destroyed many sectors of our economy.

      Before you mindlessly scream "protectionist", we shouldn't close the door to trade. We need FAIR trade deals that account for labor, environment, currency valuation, and sectors that are crucial to our national security.

      The goal shouldn't be to double exports. That goal is simply not attainable. Nobody seriously believes exports can be doubled in five years. I mean really?

      The goal should be balanced trade. Why is that so hard?

    2. Karl Kauffman says:

      One issue with this that is confusing to me. The US is sending about $100 Bil worth of food to Mexico. That is probably good.

      We bring back into this country about $30 bill in goodsproduced in Mexico thst we wiluse here.

      Now here are the questions.

      1, How much of the work done here on the produce was actually done by illegal Mexican immigrintes?

      2. How much of the product produced in Mexico used to be made in the US by companies that are now union and can no longer afford to make it here,

      3. How many guns are in the trucks doing south, and how mny drugs are in the trucks going north.

      4, I am glad that the drivers are primarily mexican, displacing union jobs, as long as they are certified and reliable,

      I beleive these are relevant comments that need to be considered for comment, thank you.

    3. Karl Kauffman says:

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      One issue with this that is confusing to me. The US is sending about $100 Bill worth of food to Mexico. That is probably good.

      We bring back into this country about $30 bill in goods produced in Mexico that we will use here.

      Now here are the questions.

      1, How much of the work done here on the produce was actually done by illegal Mexican immigrintes?

      2. How much of the product produced in Mexico used to be made in the US by companies that are now union and can no longer afford to make it here,

      3. How many guns are in the trucks doing south, and how many drugs are in the trucks going north.

      4, I am glad that the drivers are primarily mexican, displacing union jobs, as long as they are certified and reliable,

      I beleive these are relevant comments that need to be considered for comment, thank you

    4. Dr. Edward Kimble, C says:

      Regulations to prevent exhaustion of key resources, death of key industries, and depletion of needed capital and infrastructure, has been a missing element from recent treaties because of widely publicized economic models that fail to take these areas into account. What is good for the goose is not good for the gander. This also happened prior to WWII and was one of the trigger causes of war with Japan. Critical and non-replenishable items need to be carefully examined by DOD, FTC, etc. before repeating the historically fatal mistake of completely open trade. This is a warning: job, raw material, and security shortfalls will occur with possibly lethal and long lasting effects if this course of action persists.

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    6. Hans Tempe AZ says:

      Our trade policy has resulted on nothing but trade deficits. We now have lost 6 million manufacturing jobs sent overseas. With our debt and the loss of value added jobs. Our trade deficits are unsustainable along with our debt and entitlements obligations of Social Security and Medicare. We have bee running trade deficits with Mexico since NAFTA has passed and now we are running staggering trade deficits with China since GATT has passed. It doesn't make any sense to sign on to more bad free trade agreements when the final results are deficits. Deficit trade is like deficit spending. Just like Health Care Reform is bad policy! So are our free trade policies!

    7. R.Turnage, Mississip says:

      Free trade makes us richer. Period. Any argument about "destroying sectors of our economy" misunderstands some fundamental economic principals. Not the least of which is the fact that maintaining an industry that is inefficient harms everyone involved, by not allowing resources to move where they are more productive.

      Arguments for "fair" trade with regard to labor are equally ludicrous. Labor costs aren't the be all end all of manufacturing. Especially when those labor costs bring lower efficiency in workers. Additionally, if we are able to purchase goods cheaper because they are manufactured somewhere else by lower paid workers, then the country as a whole benefits. It means our money will go further, and that our resources — workers, capital, etc., can be used to create jobs in other sectors where our comparative advantage is greater. It's very important to remember…No one is entitled to a job in a specific industry. If we had this phobia about losing "sectors of the economy" a hundred years ago, we'd still be riding horses and buggy's — because they lost their "sector" to automobile industry. We'd still be using typewriters instead of computers — they lost their "sector", and we wouldn't be reading blogs for news and opinion now, because the newspapers are losing their sector.

      Devalued currency also is a red herring. Lower costs is lower cost, whether from a devalued currency or efficiency — a recent letter by economist Don Boudreaux at cafehayek.com gives the example: "Suppose that Beijing, rather than spending resources on keeping the yuan undervalued, instead spends these resources building throughout China vast systems of world-class highways, airports, and harbors. Further suppose (which is not at all far-fetched) that the resulting reduction in transportation costs – by making China’s internal markets more efficient and by lowering the costs of transporting goods to and from China – allows Americans to buy imports from China at the same low prices that today are supposedly the result of an undervalued yuan." Would that bother you as much as their "undervalued" currency?

      I applaud Rep. Cuellar's stance on trade. It's great to see a Democrat take that stance. My wish would be to see and even more open stance. Rather than concentrating on "managed-trade" deals like NAFTA, simply trade freely with every nation, regardless of their subsidies on goods. For instance, Pres. Bush's steel import tax because of foreign subsidies several years back. Sure, it helped the relatively small steel industry. But it harmed far more people — everyone who bought anything made with steel, and every sector that made anything with steel.

      The only nations that are ultimately harmed by subsidies are those that are actually doing the subsidizing.

    8. R.Turnage, Mississip says:

      Hans: Trade deficits are pretty much irrelevant, and are NOTHING like deficit spending. Every dollar we spend on an import MUST come back into the U.S. as either a capital investment or to purchase goods or services (which don't show up on our "trade balance sheets"). If they don't show back up in the U.S., then guess what? That means less dollars in circulation, which means a stronger value for our money with less inflation.

      Since NAFTA, our manufacturing industry has grown, as have wages in the industry. Our job losses in the sector are due to technological advances in this country, not "cheap labor" in other countries.

      See this Heritage article for more info: http://www.heritage.org/Research/tradeandeconomic

      and this Reason Magazine article for detailed data on our manufacturing sector after NAFTA: http://tinyurl.com/y9b53s4

      And keep in this in mind: By artificially keeping an industry strong to avoid losing jobs you feel should be here, you are by definition harming other industries in the country that would otherwise be using the capital and labor resources to grow.

    9. Joyce; Texas says:

      Since Rep. Henry Cuellar is House Homeland Subcommittee Chairman on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism, I'd be interested to hear his spin on terrorists coming across the border, drugs coming across the border and human trafficking–to name three problems!

    10. Art Phillips, Pleasa says:

      Congressman, you have sold out most Texans who believed in you. And like most in this legislature along with Obama have betrayed the Constitution, Freedom and the American people. You are not to be trusted and your words are empty.

      TO: All U.S. Congressmen

      All U.S. Senators

      The U.S. President

      From: Art Phillips and by proxy,

      Millions of American citizens

      The reality that I am moved to write a letter with the following content reveals a truth all Americans are beginning to recognize. We are in the midst of an unraveling of the fabric that has bound us together for the past two hundred thirty three years. A fabric which supports the weight of all, we as a people, hold dear. Our Freedoms, Liberty, and Justice, just to name a few are all supported by and dependent upon the strength of this Red, White, and Blue fabric called the United States Constitution. Creating such a fabric required many different threads, each carefully selected for its ability to withstand time and stress while maintaining its strength, integrity and values. The threads had to be bound together tightly so that they could not be divided thus compromising the integrity of the fabric. Each thread of this fabric has a name, to mention a few, Honor, Duty, Loyalty, Morality, Strength, Honesty, Trust, and many more. All the threads in this fabric represent the greatest attributes of the human race, one race, with different shades of one color.

      Prior to the 2008 election, the majority of citizens of the United States of America were well on their way to creating a new race, the American race. A new race of people with only one color, the American color, and only one name, American, not Asian American, or African American, simply American. A race bound together by their hopes and dreams and care for each other. The struggle for this dream took over two hundred years and millions of lives. It is disgraceful how the actions of those running for the honor of serving in public office have set this noble achievement back many years. I ask you men and women in the congress and the senate, as well as the men who ran for president, was it worth it? Was your ambition, your pride, your need to be famous or whatever self-serving goal you were seeking worth destroying what millions of Americans gave their lives for? Do not tell me you don’t know what I am talking about. Each of you knows very well that the despicable use of race in the 2008 election was obscene and you all share the responsibility for it. The 111th legislature, as well as the 2008 presidency, will be looked upon as the blackest days in American history thus far.

      Though I have served my Country, and my family has sacrificed much for our way of life, I have failed to do my duty. I took an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. I was not diligent in the exercise of my duty to protect our Constitution from malignant growth known as government. Congressmen, Congresswomen, Senators and President, you represent that growth. It is your blind ambition and self interest you serve rather than the American people and the Constitution you swore to protect. The actions taken by this administration and legislature amount to a direct attack on the Constitution and the rights and freedoms it guarantees. You have forgotten that it is not your place or your right to tell the people what you are going to do. It is your duty and obligation to ask the people what they want! When I say, it is your duty to ask the people, I mean the majority, not the few that simply seek to be coddled, ask those who have made and make this nation successful. This government has made too many false assumptions with regard to the reason it was elected.

      For too long I have lived under the misguided assumption that individuals elected to the highest offices in the land, individuals that took the same oath to the Constitution I did, would honor that oath. I believed that they could be trusted and things like Honor, Duty, Loyalty, and Morality were as important to them as they are to me. I made a serious error in judgment with regard to many of them. Many in the Senate and Congress do not have the capacity to possess such ideals. Just think, people who are supposed to be the guardians of our Constitution are trying to limit free speech, restrict the free exercise of religion, remove the right to own arms, just to mention a few of their attacks on the Constitution and the American people.

      What person in their right mind has the audacity, the arrogance or the ignorance to expect people to apologize for the success of their nation? The only change we need now is to remove such ingrates from office. If our country is such a horrible place to live, why do so many around the world want to come here? Why does our government want to reward criminals and provide them free medical, subsistence and free education at the expense of those who can’t afford it for their own families? People who have entered this country illegally and laugh at our laws, many of whom commit crimes in our country, are given property and rights paid for by our citizens even when these same citizens cannot afford it for themselves. If these illegal aliens want to live in a country like the United States of America then they need only to go back to their own country and pay the price Americans here have paid and build another America, the world could certainly use more.

      Americans owe the world nothing, nothing at all. This nation has always provided for the rest of the world freely and willingly. Our nation has fought and sacrificed more than any nation on earth for those in need around the world. Now some of you in Washington have the nerve to think we should apologize for our success. You are very much mistaken if you think this American feels apologetic, and don’t even think of apologizing for me!

      Our nation’s success was purchased with the hard work, sweat, tears, suffering and blood of ordinary people who possessed extraordinary will, courage and values. I am proud of this nation because of citizens who were willing to share that success along with the blood of their sons and daughters with the world. I despise any individual calling for or making an apology for the sacrifice of my brothers and sisters in arms, be they living or dead, or any citizen of our great nation. Get it clearly embedded in your conscience that the United States has nothing to apologize for! Consider this, why don’t those of you in Washington that have degraded, insulted and slandered our country, its military and many of our citizens start correcting the disastrous course you have taken by making a long overdue apology to America and her allies. Speaking of apologies, the media, those in television mainly, have betrayed their profession, their country, and themselves. What is most discouraging about the media is the fact that they know very well they have lost all credibility and trust. Some journalists even admit that they don’t report news anymore, “we make the news” one of them stated. You won’t find any honor in this profession any more. And just think, I am just a simple person, a nobody to the new Washington and the media.

      I have a great deal more to say, however, I am sure most congressmen and senators are far too superior to even acknowledge an average citizen much less read all this. To those in our government still holding to your beliefs and values, those who still honor the Constitution and believe in freedom over tyranny, I salute you, respect you, and I have your back so long as we stand. To the rest, look carefully in a mirror, you are just a person. There is nothing special about you. There are many in this country that can do your job far better than you ever will. You are only insulting the rest of us and making fools of yourselves acting as though you are any better, any smarter, or any more qualified at what you are doing than a million others are. You were born, you will age, and you will die just like every other person on this earth, why not leave behind a good memory and an unselfish legacy. No one is unaware of the mistakes they have made, each of us knows when we are doing something for the wrong reasons. I hope I can get through to at least a few of you in government before the betrayal of the American people turns to outright treason. Where is your Courage, Commitment, Honor, all those things a leader must possess?

      God Bless our great nation!


      Art Phillips and millions of other Americans

      Afterthought: What could be so valuable to a person elected to serve a nation as great as the United States that they would betray such a trust? I can't answer that, however, we are witnessing this very thing in our government. It seems that most of those we trusted to protect our beloved Constitution have betrayed every citizen in the United States. In the past six months we have seen our Constitution, our Military, and many average citizens slandered, threatened and subjected to vicious attacks which were totally unwarranted. Our present administration and legislature is by all means and definition guilty of treason. When will one of our many Law Enforcement, Judges, Dept of Justice or courts find a little courage our soldiers have and make these traitors and criminals answer. It looks as though the only ones who are going to be punished for our governments dishonor and criminal activity is US.

      Art Phillips

      Loyal American citizen.



    11. Steven Guzman says:

      Henry Cuellar is now a fraud. He cannot come on this Site and claim to be a free-trade proponent. After his vote last night, he has absolutely no credibility on this issue. If free trade is good for the US and other economies, shouldn't it be good enough for me and my dealings with the healthcare industry?

    12. Charles Burger says:

      Here in Hickory, NC since the "Free Trade" agreements have been effect, our unemployment has been above 10% (currently it is 14+%). We made Hosiery, Furniture, Textiles, and Fiber Optic cable. Now we are able to produce maybe 10% of what we use to produce. Please explain your stats?

    13. Patty Williamson says:

      It may be because I don't understand the big picture & the comments above have enlightened me some but I have some questions someone might be able to answer.

      1. If in fact since NAFTA we have gained economically, why has our job market turned into and reduced to (cubical) work.

      2. Why has our market turned into big massively run corporations & reduced small businesses that cannot compete with the giants.

      3. And most importantly, why has (congress) allowed multi corporations to dictate the economy, our laws, bailouts,to protect them, allowed them to discontinue health care programs for their employees, no pension plan for their employees, fleese the American public through sweet heart deals on wall street, and forsaken those of us who count on them to protect us?

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