Obama, Unions Are Holding US Jobs Hostage

As recently as April, it looked like President Barack Obama was ready to make good on his promise to double exports in five years.

American trade unions, besieged and reeling from rapidly diminishing public support, appeared to be falling into line by removing their objections to three pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Obama made an incredible about-face and even praised these agreements that were originally signed by the Bush administration. He seemed to be finally setting aside raw partisan politics.

There was recognition that these agreements would create thousands of good-paying American jobs, revive small businesses, and bring billions of revenue. It looked like the signing pen was in hand providing a brief moment for celebration as Democrats and Republicans would come together to do what was right for our country.

No such thing. Now we find it was nothing but a ruse by Obama and the unions for another shakedown of the American taxpayer. By sacrificing the interests of the vast majority of Americans to funnel billions of dollars in concessions to unions, Obama has squarely put his election aspirations above those looking for jobs.

What are these concessions? The finger gets pointed directly at the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which compensates union workers who are financially impacted by foreign competition. Although its original charter was commendable, like so many government entitlements, it has become a gross perversion of its intended purpose. Obama is insisting TAA be renewed as part of any trade deal, which is nothing more than a big down payment for union contributions and votes in 2012.

The three pending trade agreements won’t impact a single union job. Instead, they will create tens of thousands of union and non-union jobs in America. The TAA, under Obama, has already received $1 billion in funding. Compare this to the $13 billion of new American exports generated in the first year if the three agreements are ratified. The South Korean agreement alone will create a minimum of 80,000 new U.S. jobs.

We are flat broke and don’t have the money to spend on another federal wealth-redistribution program. The U.S. is already providing 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, which is incredibly generous.

Contrary to progressive dogma, far more people in America lose their jobs due to domestic competition, technology advancements and productivity improvements than they do from foreign competition.

The underlying assumption inherent to TAA is that increased trade is bad. The Obama team fervently believes to fix capitalism we must embrace socialism.

The Republicans are up in arms about this betrayal. There is wide consensus that Republicans won’t sign off on any agreement if it includes TAA money. And Obama has indicated that he won’t sign any agreement if there is no TAA provision. This is indicative of the gridlock that has befallen this Congress.

American workers are being held hostage. Our trading partners are being punished. It is inexcusable to use our people and trading partners as pawns in a chess game that is unwinnable.

Union membership was at its height during the late 1950s when nearly 60 percent of the American work force belonged to a union. Today it is less than 8 percent.

Union leadership has become stale, self-serving and out of touch. While unionism is failing in the U.S., it is absurd we would be forcing its agenda upon our people and our trading partners.

Why does this administration allow itself to be led by the nose by union leaders that are out of touch with America and even among its own membership?

When will Democrats wake up and think more about the future of this country and less about the donations they receive from unions?

The American people are suffering. They deserve better than this. They need jobs.

Who will set them free?

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