House Dems using South Korea trade deficit to oppose fast-track

A trio of House Democrats argue the nation's widening trade deficit with South Korea is a reason to oppose expanded trade powers for the White House. 

Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and George Miller (D-Calif.) renewed their call on Thursday to oppose trade promotion authority and the passage of trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

ADVERTISEMENT
"Just two years after the KORUS agreement went into effect, we have a record trade deficit with Korea, which is hurting American manufacturers and American workers," the lawmakers said in a statement.

"It’s well past time our major export was something other than good paying American jobs."

The cited figures released by the Commerce Department on Thursday showing that the U.S.-South Korea trade deficit reached an all-time high of nearly $20.7 billion last year, a $7.4 billion (56 percent) increase from 2011, the year before the trade deal took effect.

Instead, they suggested that Congress pass legislation supporting U.S. manufacturing, specifically by instructing U.S. trade negotiators to eliminate foreign market barriers before reducing U.S. tariffs and provide enforcement authority to reinstate the tariff if the foreign government does not follow through.

'The data is continuing to prove what we already know, which is that these deals are bad for Americans," they said.

"Supporters of the TPP in its current form should take a hard look at these numbers and think twice about whether they want to inflict another job-killing trade deal on our nation."

The lawmakers said a new poll shows that a majority (62 percent) of those asked oppose fast-track authority that would help push through new trade deals. 

The poll also found that 43 percent of respondents would be less likely to vote to reelect a member of Congress who supports fast-track.

They said that the trade data also shows that the nation's overall trade deficit with the 11 countries involved in the TPP negotiations is $154 billion.  

"If TPP has the same impact as KORUS, this deficit will only grow larger," they said.