We Must Repeal Pntr with China

Date: Feb. 9, 2005
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Trade

WE MUST REPEAL PNTR WITH CHINA -- (House of Representatives - February 09, 2005)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Vermont (Mr. Sanders) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Speaker, I am announcing today that along with 61 cosponsors, 45 Democrats and 16 Republicans, I am introducing legislation that will repeal Permanent Normal Trade Relations, PNTR, with China.

Anyone who takes an objective look at our trade policy with China must conclude that it is an absolute failure and needs to be fundamentally overhauled. There really can be no other conclusion.

Today, as part of our overall record-breaking $600 billion trade deficit, we have an estimated $160 billion trade deficit with China. Incredibly, this trade deficit with China has increased by 29 percent over the last year alone and almost 50 percent since the passage of PNTR in 2000.

Very few experts in this area doubt that the trade deficit with China will continue to escalate in the years ahead. In industry after industry, corporate America is shifting our manufacturing plants, our good-paying jobs to China where desperate people are forced to work for wages as low as 20 cents an hour. Anyone who went Christmas shopping this year knows that more and more products on the shelves are made in China: toys, bicycles, computers, televisions, shoes and sneakers, all kind of clothing and hats, telephone, furniture, auto parts and even artificial Christmas decorations. Ironically, the little American flags that Members of Congress wave around are often made in China.

In the last 4 years, the United States has lost 2.7 million manufacturing jobs, over 16 percent, of our entire manufacturing sector. In my own small State of Vermont, we have lost 20 percent of our manufacturing jobs during that period. PNTR with China and our disastrous trade policies in general are one of the key reasons for that, but we should be very aware that PNTR with China is not only leading to the destruction of traditional manufacturing and blue collar jobs. It is leading to the loss of millions of high-tech, information technology jobs as well. These are the jobs that we were told would be there for our kids and would secure them with a place in the middle class.

The question that the American people have to ask is why it is that corporate America, with the active support of the President of the United States and the congressional leadership, is selling out the American people and making China the economic superpower of the 21st century. Not only is China rapidly becoming the manufacturing center of the world; it is quickly becoming the information technology hub as well.

Andy Grove, the founder of Intel, predicted last year that the United States will lose the bulk of its information technology jobs to China and India over the next decade. John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco, was typical of many high-tech leaders when he said, "China will become the IT center of the world. What we're," at Cisco, "trying to do is outline an entire strategy of becoming a Chinese company."

At a time when poverty in America is increasing, the gap between the rich and the poor is growing wider and most of the new jobs projected for the future are low wage with minimal benefits, the great economic struggle of our time is whether the middle class of America can be saved. Will we be a country in which ordinary workers have bright futures with good-paying jobs and decent benefits, or will we continue to move in an oligarchic direction in which the rich get richer and most everyone else gets poorer? To a significant degree, the answer to that question will depend on whether Congress has the courage to make fundamental changes in our trade policy, including PNTR with China.

The word has got to go out loud and clear to companies like Wal-Mart, GE, GM, IBM and dozens more, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that they cannot keep sending America's future to China. Trade is a good thing, but must be based on principles that are fair to American workers. The U.S. Congress can no longer allow corporate America to sell out the middle class and move our economy abroad.

It is not acceptable that Jeff Immelt of General Electric, the CEO, says, "When I am talking to GE managers, I talk China, China, China, China, China."

It is not acceptable that Thomas Donahue, the CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce "urges" American companies to send jobs overseas.

It is not acceptable that Bill Gates, the wealthiest man in America, tells us that Communist authoritarian China has created "a brand new form of capitalism, and as a consumer it's the best thing that ever happened."

We need to repeal PNTR to China.