Obama Administration’s Attack on the Middle Class

Obama Throws American Workers Under Mexican Trucks.

The Obama Administration plans to move forward with a provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that would allow long-haul Mexican trucks to move cargo in the United States.  The United States has barred Mexican trucks from operating in the US.  Mexico claims the ban is a violation of NAFTA and retaliated by imposing punitive tariffs on a wide range of US products.  The United States Department of Transportation recently (Tues. January 4, 2011) has offered Mexico a “concept document” to resolve the dispute that would allow permits for Mexican long-haul truckers to operate on U.S. roadways.

This action which would effectively allow Mexican truck drivers access to the US job market, crystallizes the complete failure of US trade and economic policy over the last twenty years.  It is a direct attack on working middle class families.  Business, with help of the US government, is working to undercut the wages and benefits of American truck drivers by replacing them with Mexican nationals.

Any time that Americans are in a position to work in an occupation that still has strong demand for workers, which still provides a middle class standard of living – business, with the help of the US government, sets about to redress that labor market to the benefit of business.  Business will cry about a shortage of workers or will weep for the poor consumer that is paying too much for goods and services.   It is all just a self interested desire to drive down the labor cost to increase business profit.  American business is not concerned with the fate of American workers, the American consumers or the effect of their actions on the larger economy.  American business is driven solely to increase its profits by any means at its disposal.

There is a demand for truck drivers that sustains good wages and benefits.  So, the U.S. Transportation industry and large business, represented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, looks across the U.S./Mexican border and, seeing an ample supply of truck drivers willing to work for wages well below the US standard, have become determined to punch a hole through the US and Mexican border for foreign national truck drivers.

Factory workers, IT professionals, now truck drivers…. who will be next?  There are 7 billion people in the world today, many living in the kind of poverty that Americans can barely imagine hundreds of millions of them ready, willing and able to do your job.  As my boss liked to say; anyone can be replaced. So, how many of these desperate workers should we give access to the US labor market?

The only difference between the United States and Mexico or China or India is that in our labor markets more of our working families can still leverage a living wage.  As we endeavor to give more and more access of our labor market to foreign nationals, how do Americans maintain that leverage?  The more we move the United States from a national labor market to a world labor market the result can only be a lower standard of living for American families and a less prosperous and less powerful United States of America.

There is no moral or legal reason why the United States should engage in a trade agreement that costs American workers jobs and harms the US economy.

When debating in Ohio during the 2008 primary race, President Obama (and Hilary Clinton) promised to unilaterally open up NAFTA for renegotiation.  Obama failed to live up to that campaign promise.  Now with the gains by the GOP in the House and Senate, the time has passed to get a fair deal for workers’ families.  Both parties in the United State are embarked on an economic policy course that seems destined to set a world price for labor.  Before we go any further down that road, we need to set aside the short term interest of business and think long and hard about what will be the end result of our actions; and what it will mean for the future of American working families and our nation.

See Article in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/business/07trade.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

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