By Mike Lillis - 08/15/11 04:43 PM EDT
Two House Democrats are urging colleagues to buck the Obama administration and kill a pending free-trade deal with South Korea.
Reps. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) and Mike Michaud (Maine) say the free-trade agreement — which Congress is expected to take up in September — would eliminate U.S. jobs.
“As the U.S. continues to struggle and recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, it is unconscionable that we would consider passing an FTA that puts the rights of investors and multinational corporations over the rights of American workers,” the lawmakers wrote Monday in a letter to House colleagues.
The two Democrats warned that the agreement would empower corporations to sue the government over regulations the companies deemed detrimental to their profits.
“This means that our state or federal government can be sued for enacting laws that protect workers or public health just because they interfere with a company’s bottom line,” they wrote.
The South Korean trade deal — along with separate pacts with Panama and Colombia — has been stalled for months because Democratic leaders wanted, simultaneously, to extend a program providing help to U.S. workers who might suffer under the deals — a provision many Republicans oppose.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced earlier this month that the two parties have agreed to tackle the workers’ aid and the three pending deals separately, clearing the way for those votes next month when Congress returns from its August vacation.
The liberal Kucinich and centrist Blue Dog Michaud said similar trade pacts — such as the North American Free Trade Agreement — exacerbated a U.S. trade deficit that’s killed more than 5 million manufacturing jobs in the last decade alone.
“Such protections not only significantly undermine U.S. sovereignty, they also provide further incentives for corporations to outsource American jobs if labor protections get in the way of their profits,” they wrote.
“Now we want to pass an FTA that will not only further increase our trade-deficit, but result in further job loss?”