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Lost: 600,000 Jobs

September 21, 2009

AMERICAN JOBS?? NO ONE CARES? EXCEPT THE MAJORITY OF US WHO WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH THE UNION THUGS. D.

Lost: 600,000 Jobs

IBD: 18 Sept. 09

Economy: As if Big Labor hasn’t been repaid enough for its help in electing Democrats, a new report shows that protectionism — the unions’ signature issue — costs 585,000 of the rest of us our jobs.

It’s not enough that unions got the cream of the $80 billion in auto industry bailouts or the center cut of the $787 billion stimulus package or a smorgasbord of regulations — from union transparency laws to court-ordered supervision — rescinded by grateful Democrats in Congress and the White House.

But the biggest payoff has been in the form of protectionist measures being applied across the U.S. economy. They include “Buy American” provisos, a Mexican truck shutout, tariffs on Chinese tires and, worst of all, the halting of free trade treaties with Colombia, Korea and Panama. Up next: tariffs on steel pipe.

The aim is to preserve a few thousand jobs at most, but it’s coming at a high price. On Monday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a comprehensive report called “Trade Action: The Cost for American Workers and Companies.” It describes how the Obama administration’s trade decisions, all of which were sought by Big Labor, have so far cost 585,000 American jobs.

It started in February 2008, with the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It required all iron, steel and manufactured goods purchased for public works projects to be American-made, and all textiles, clothing and equipment purchased by the Department of Homeland Security to be U.S.-made.

“We estimate that any net increase in U.S. employment resulting from the new ‘Buy American’ provisions will quickly evaporate as other countries implement ‘buy national’ policies of their own,” the Chamber said. Even a 1% loss of sales would create big job losses, the Chamber said, and that doesn’t include retaliation. Job toll: 176,800.

Then there was the Teamsters’ favorite — the abrogation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a provision of which requires the U.S. to permit Mexican trucks on U.S. roads as it always had until 1982.

In March, Congress passed the FY2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act to end funding for a pilot program that would have fulfilled the treaty’s requirements. The Chamber says Mexico retaliated with $2.3 billion in penalty duties on 89 U.S. products, creating an immediate cost of $421 million.

Consumers also pay $739 million “drayage” costs of transferring Mexican truck goods to American trucks, plus additional shipping. Net cost: 25,600 jobs.

The big disaster, however, is Congress’ failure to pass already-negotiated free trade treaties with Korea and Colombia, which have been awaiting a vote since 2006 and 2007, respectively. Big Labor opposes all free trade, and on Colombia, the AFL-CIO calls its opposition “unalterable.” But that sop to them costs the rest of us jobs.

“While the United States stalls, other major exporters, (notably the EU and Canada) are moving ahead with (free trade agreements) of their own with these countries,” the Chamber points out.

“If the EU and Canada do implement their FTAs with Korea and Colombia and the United States does not, exporters will enjoy a competitive advantage over U.S. exporters” in those markets, the Chamber warns.

Add to that the China tire tariffs imposed last week, which Rutgers trade expert Thomas Prusa reckons would cost 15,000 jobs, and the grand total is 600,000 positions — a disaster for an economy in recession and a killer of consumer confidence and voter approval.

For Democrats, this ought to be a wake-up call. For every job they save to repay unions, many more are lost in other sectors of the economy. What’s more, jobs that would be created as a result of freer markets never materialize. Either way, the price is intolerably high.

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