Jewish World Review May 4, 2004 / 13 Iyar, 5764

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Labor issues getting some much-needed attention | A national debate on the importance of the American worker has begun. The debate includes many issues: the outsourcing of American jobs to cheap overseas labor markets, the wholesale exodus of American manufacturing plants and jobs overseas, and a chronic, crushing trade deficit that has turned this country into a debtor nation.

At the center of the debate are the working men and women of this country, and the hardest hit among them have been workers in manufacturing.

Last week, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., held a roundtable to discuss the issue.

"Since taking office, President Bush has lost 2.8 million good-paying manufacturing jobs and continues to lose more every month," Pelosi said. "One million jobs have been shipped overseas. And manufacturing employment is at a 53-year low."

It's unfortunate that the debate is framed in polemics and partisanship, but if that is the price of an important national dialogue, then it's worth the rancor.

Pelosi and Daschle were joined by several members of Congress, as well as the governors of three states hit hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Pennsylvania and Michigan both lost more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs from 2001 to 2003, while Wisconsin lost approximately 70,000 manufacturing jobs over that span.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said that by not acting against unfair international trade, the United States has become "the laughingstock of the global community." Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell said that while his state has worked to prevent the loss of manufacturing jobs, the Bush administration has failed to properly support those efforts.

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Manufacturing has been the backbone of the American economy for decades. But we've allowed this critical sector to severely deteriorate. A new study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute found that our rising national trade deficit has been a crucial component in our country's loss of manufacturing jobs. Other research estimates that roughly 30 percent of the manufacturing jobs lost since Bush took office were the result of an increase in the trade deficit.

Trade imbalances also have a negative impact on the remaining manufacturing labor force. According to research from the Center for National Policy, increased imports lead to a modest decline in manufacturing wages, while an increase in exports leads to a modest increase in wages. Unfortunately, imports into our market have increased, while the percentage of U.S. production exported has fallen by about 1 percent in recent years. President Bush is, in fact, the first American president to preside over a decline in exports since the Great Depression.

Now, several governors are pressing both the Bush administration and lawmakers on Capitol Hill to take action.

"We want Congress to enact the Crane-Rangel-Manzullo bill that gives tax breaks to American manufacturers who manufacture here," Rendell told me. "The administration should get behind it immediately."

Rendell contends that the United States must become much more aggressive with the World Trade Organization.

"We heard from the secretary of commerce today that they are going to hire Elliott Ness-type prosecutors to ratchet up the heat on the World Trade Organization, and maybe that's good news," Rendell said.

This is absolutely good news. The United States must do everything it can to prevent further hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs and further expansion of our trade debt. Free trade at all costs is no longer affordable to the American worker and the nation.

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Lou Dobbs is the anchor and managing editor of CNN's "Lou Dobbs Moneyline." Comment by clicking here.

04/27/04: Outsourcing the jobs debate
04/20/04: Revisiting the final frontier
04/11/04: The source of terror
03/22/04: Our new consumer economy
03/15/04: Finding a balance between free trade and protecting our national interest
03/09/04: Choice between Bush and Kerry isn't much of a choice
03/02/04: Election stakes are getting higher
02/24/04: Help wanted: Free trade policies hurt working Americans
02/17/04: All the news that's fit
02/04/04: American jobs must be protected
01/03/04: Dangerously dependent
01/27/04: Who's working for working Americans?
01/20/04: U.S. selling itself short with "free" trade
01/12/04: Bush on the wrong track with immigration idea
01/05/04: Business leaders should resolve to lead by example in 2004
12/29/03: Immigration needs stricter, not looser, controls
12/11/03: Trade deficit with China a big problem
12/09/03: Let our children be children
12/01/03: Broken borders pose a serious health risk
11/25/03: Free trade costs plenty
11/18/03: European Union is playing a dangerous game
11/10/03: This time, it's not the economy
11/04/03: Overseas outsourcing is an alarming trend
10/28/03: Spending so much time 'making a living', we don't live
10/21/03: As population soars, U.S. faces tough choices
10/14/03: Schools need to re-emphasize math and science
10/07/03: It's lonely at the top
09/30/03: Is America over-medicating?
09/23/03: Corporate execs need to stop selling out U.S. workers
09/16/03: The scandals just keep on coming
09/09/03: Let's get real on energy
09/02/03: Is free enterprise the answer to education woes?
08/26/03: Building the road to recovery
08/12/03: War on drugs is still a war worth fighting
08/06/03: An attack on progressive thought
07/29/03: Prosperity begins at home
07/22/03: Real earnings, or really creative earnings?
07/15/03: Flirting with disaster
07/08/03: It's good to be the king
07/01/03: Border disorder
06/24/03: Prairie dogs and mosquito bogs
06/17/03: Bullish on America
06/10/03: Retirement realities: we need new solutions — soon
06/03/03: Curing what ails us
05/27/03: America's export problem
05/21/03: Wall Street's new imperative: Integrity
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05/06/03: Optimism is unfashionable, but here's some anyway
04/29/03: Nuclear nightmare
04/22/03: Naysayers ignore signs of economic recovery
04/15/03: Game over--but for whom?
04/08/03: No more fool's games
03/31/03: United States must seriously review foreign economic and political relationships
03/24/03: Delusional Chirac may be a thorn in coalition's side, but new alliances are forming in response to 21st-Century threats without him and UN
03/18/03: Bush critics offer little more than hyperbole
03/11/03: Geopolitical visibility
03/04/03: Freedom: Our best export
02/27/03: Guns, butter and greasing the way
02/18/03: Looking for a silver lining
02/10/03: Space program remains a valuable investment
02/04/03: Hi pal, come back
01/28/03: Bush address a chance to bolster confidence
01/22/03: Here we go again!
01/14/03: Bush's bold bid
01/07/03: The only thing certain is uncertainty
12/30/02: No need to be so negative as new year approaches
12/23/02: NY's AG deserves credit for settlement
12/18/02: Critics of Bush nominees should tone down rhetoric
12/09/02: A lot rides on prez's Treasury pick
12/04/02: A fast fix for corporate credibility?
11/26/02: Urge to merge is hard to resist
11/19/02: Are we really so bad off?
11/12/02: Bush's lucky week bodes well for recovery
11/05/02: Wall Street firms treat investors as fools
10/29/02: Earnings estimates offer some hope
10/22/02: Economy's strength tied to national security
10/17/02: Harvey Pitt, get real!
10/08/02:Are we experiencing the fall before the rise?
10/01/02: Concerns about earnings are justified
09/24/02: Business leaders must abandon stall tactics
09/17/02: Wall Street's reality check
09/12/02: There's no better time for leaders to show resolve


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