Obama and McCain ought to address unfair trade practices

I want to urge both major-party presidential candidates to take a hard look at U.S. trade policies. If Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are serious about helping our country’s economy get back on track they must address how trade is affecting many of the manufacturers in this country.

Most people agree that trade is an important component of the American manufacturing economy. American companies, large and small, report that foreign sales are helping ease the financial impact of a struggling U.S. economy. The weak dollar has made American goods more competitive in the world market. However, there is another set of facts to consider when it comes to trade.

Those facts show that Washington has hesitated to hold all of our trading partners accountable to fair trading practices. Predatory foreign trade policies that include subsidies, dumping and currency manipulation are taking a heavy toll on the industrial base of this country. Manufacturing is the engine that drives the economy; it is responsible for much of the R&D efforts and it plays a key role in allowing the country to defend itself from its enemies. Manufacturing jobs provide benefits and enable workers to earn much more than minimum wage.

Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Business and former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission, makes the point that manufacturing lost 26,000 jobs in May and more than 3.7 million jobs over the last 97 months. Morici correctly argues that were the trade deficit cut in half, manufacturing would recoup at least 2 million of those jobs, U.S. growth would exceed 3.5 percent a year, household savings performance would improve, and borrowing from foreigners would decline. Clearly, the jobs that manufacturing creates allow workers to not just have a job but to make a living on which you can raise a family.

American manufacturers are not afraid of competition, but that competition needs to be fair. Manufacturers do not need protectionism, but we do need protection from unfair trading practices. I hope the presidential candidates can agree on this.

Park Ridge, Ill.

All whine and no fix

From Patrick Curry

(Regarding article, “Spotlight back on Pelosi,” June 10.) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may indeed be the most powerful woman in America, but she has accomplished very little so far. Most of what she has accomplished has been limited to fruitless, futile hearings designed to politically punish Republicans. Hearings on steroids in baseball? Please. What rubbish. Hearings on Valerie Plame’s outing? What an incredible waste of time and taxpayer money.

Pelosi is a legend in her own mind. When she intelligently addresses our economic problems, then she might be recognized as a woman of respect. Until then, she’ll be just another shrill Democrat who whines about everything but fixes nothing.

Irvine, Calif.

Drill here, drill now

From Hallett Newman

(Regarding article, “Senate panel points fingers on oil prices, blaming ‘Enron loophole,’” June 4.) If the Senate Commerce Committee really is interested in lowering oil and gas prices it needs to allow us to drill here, drill now and pay less. We need to use our own oil and build refineries. As soon as we start to do both, OPEC oil will come down in price.

Ratcliff, Ark.