The Trump administration and Democrats in Congress are jockeying over the president's United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a replacement for the trade deal NAFTA. In a speech Friday, President Donald Trump urged Congress to ratify the deal.
Trump's economic vision is working
By Tom Tiffany
President Donald Trump’s speech in Milwaukee last week reminded us that no matter what flashy issue dominates political headlines at any given moment, we need to continue to keep focus on how to make our economy stronger.
The president spoke at Derco Aerospace in Milwaukee, a defense contractor that is among the many manufacturers in the midst of the American factory revival that was once thought impossible.
“We're here today to celebrate the triumphant return of American manufacturing,” President Trump announced, and it wasn’t mere bluster. Manufacturing jobs make up a growing number of the millions of jobs created under President Trump’s administration, and manufacturing confidence is setting new records.
At Derco, the president shared a simple secret to his success, saying, “We’ve powered our economic turnaround by following two fundamental rules: If it hurts American workers, we don’t do it. ... If it helps American workers, we definitely do it.”
Trade reform is central to that "America first" approach. For 25 years under NAFTA, American companies have been able to do their manufacturing in Mexico, taking advantage of low wages and virtually nonexistent labor protections, and then ship those products into the United States without any problems. The passage of NAFTA in 1994 corresponds precisely with the manufacturing exodus we have seen in the United States.
The blame doesn’t rest solely with any single administration or political party. NAFTA was conceived under President George H.W. Bush, signed by President Bill Clinton, and left in place by successive presidents from both parties. However, the same president who brought us the recent manufacturing renaissance has delivered — in the form of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA — a replacement for NAFTA that will right the wrongs of 1994.
The new agreement seeks to do more than simply maximize gross domestic product, which was the overarching priority of the NAFTA negotiators. Experts believe that the USMCA will foster economic growth as well, but the goal is to deliver an equitable economy in which factory workers in Wisconsin benefit as much from North American free trade as financiers on Wall Street.
Many issues will dominate the news coverage, but just because our economy is humming along doesn’t mean we lose focus. We can continue to grow. President Trump’s push for Congress to approve the USMCA is just another example of his commitment to the economic vision he has laid out, and we should join the call to ask Congress to pass the USMCA.
What others are saying
Jeffrey J. Schott, Bloomberg: "A better approach for Congress would be to defer consideration of legislation until U.S. trade officials fix what’s wrong with the (USMCA) pact, starting with consumer protections in pharmaceuticals and stronger enforcement of labor and environmental provisions. Importantly, revisions should also scale back the damaging auto provisions exposed by the U.S. International Trade Commission study. And the Democrats should insist that the pact cover climate change issues, a glaring omission in the version Trump signed."
Vice President Mike Pence, The Washington Post: "As I’ve traveled across the country to discuss the merits of this historic trade deal, I’ve seen firsthand how important the USMCA is to the American people and to American businesses. Whether it was textile manufacturers in North Carolina, farmers in Minnesota, auto workers in Michigan or energy producers in Texas, they all agreed: The USMCA is a great deal, and Congress needs to act now. President Trump has done his job. Now it’s time for the Congress to do its job — and pass the USMCA."
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones: "As near as I can tell, Canada and Mexico already agreed to all of USMCA’s intellectual property rules when they signed onto the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with one exception: Patent protection for biologics is 10 years in USMCA compared with eight years in TPP. That’s about it. Unless I’m missing something, Donald Trump has negotiated a treaty that favors Canada and Mexico when it comes to trade in goods, and does virtually nothing new to favor the U.S. in IP law. It’s even more useless than I ever imagined."
Earl Anthony Wayne, The Hill: "Trade and investment among the three countries support over 12 million U.S. jobs, many of which are located where Democrats hold political power. The Peterson Institute examined U.S. congressional districts with the highest share of exports of goods and services to Mexico and Canada and found 21 of those districts have Democratic members of Congress. The affiliated jobs provide those representatives with good reasons to support rapid approval of USMCA."
What our readers are saying
We go from bad to worse for our negotiations, so how can we expect positive results?
— Thomas H. Evans
Are people surprised about what a failure he is with regard to getting our nation out of growing debt?
— Jacqueline Blaszka Campbell
A good deal takes time and negotiation. You've done well for us so far, Mr. President.
— Davin Leron
Trump often resorts to tariffs, taxes on American consumers. It is about time Republicans finally push back against Trump's poor leadership.
— John Bertelson
You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Wisconsin State Farmer: NAFTA 2.0: Economic data shows Trump's 'America first' approach works