A Better Deal to Protect U.S. Jobs and Ensure Free Trade is Fair Trade

Donald Trump made a lot of promises about killing lousy free trade agreements, promoting American made products and keeping U.S. jobs from moving overseas, but so far his idea of fair trade is more like his Yankees getting an all-star pitcher without having to give up a blue chip player in return. That would be a great deal for New York sports fans, but we’re not talking about a game here. These broken promises are a bum deal for American agriculture and manufacturing.

It’s long been pretty clear that we haven’t had much luck trusting top elected officials to wrangle a really good international deal for American workers and businesses, because they are just too darn beholden to special interests. Circling the federal trade negotiators constantly are the deep-pocketed lobbyists for shareholder-driven Wall Street and multinational corporations that have mastered the dark art of finding cheep labor and blind-eye regulations in foreign countries.

Finally a plan was unveiled this week by the Democrats to inject a referee into the trade and multinational business world that could take political favors out of the games Washington plays with the American economy. The proposal calls for creating an “independent trade prosecutor” to investigate unfair trade practices and recommend how the U.S. should respond in kind. That’s A Better Deal for American workers, farmers and entrepreneurs than the one we have now.

The new strategy additionally calls for the creation of an “American Jobs Security Council” to keep a watchful eye on countries like China and Russia that use state-owned and allied companies to acquire U.S. businesses with the intent of cornering a market and ultimately shipping jobs overseas. Consequently there are few reciprocal opportunities for U.S. companies, especially in China where there are enormous obstacles that prevent mutual business opportunities for American entrepreneurs.

We also heard a lot of promises on the campaign trail last year about penalizing companies that move overseas, but the truth is American businesses still get to write-off expenses incurred from offshoring their factories overseas. This new deal would wipe out the tax deductions and tax profits on businesses that move their headquarters overseas at a 35% rate.

Of course penalties alone aren’t going to bring U.S. jobs back home, so there are incentives that would create a tax credit of up to 20% of the cost of returning factories to the U.S. There are even added tax breaks for companies that relocate to Rural America and other hard hit areas. That’s A Better Deal for all of us.

There are also some simple steps in the proposal, like sanctioning countries that manipulate their currency to pay less for for U.S. goods and crops; penalizing government contractors that outsource jobs overseas; and making sure the government buys from American suppliers and service providers. You would think those ideas are a no-brainer and are already on the books as law. They aren’t, but they should be.

We’re going to hear a lot about renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement in the next year or so. That’s a big deal, but if we stay on the course we’re on right now it will mostly likely be just another bait-and-switch raw deal negotiated on a golf course at a private country club by those same lobbyists that get paid to ignore the American worker and farmer. We need to send people to Washington who want us to have A Better Deal, and slowly but surely we’re seeing a blueprint drawn that says Grown in America and Made in America comes first.

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