By Jim Sensenbrenner
The American economy is thriving. That is an indisputable fact. We’ve added more than 3.7 million jobs since President Trump signed the historic Tax Cuts & Jobs Act into law in December 2017. Nationwide, we’ve seen 15 straight months of more job openings than job seekers. Here in Wisconsin, our unemployment rate has remained at or below 3 percent for the last year.
Following years of stagnation, American families are emerging with new optimism as they see a growing economy and additional opportunities — if you want a job, you have a good chance of landing one. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board recently compared the Trump and Obama years as “A Tale of Two Economies,” highlighting what good can happen when policies focus on growth.
And now, Republicans are fighting to improve our standing in the global economy too. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was ratified 25 years ago, and it is time for a rebalancing of this trade agreement. Under the guidance of President Trump, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro are working to renegotiate our trade deals and have successfully reached a final agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada — the “USMCA.”
For the last year, the president and his representatives have traveled the country,
listening to workers and business owners about the impacts of trade on their productivity. In May, I had the privilege of hosting Dr. Navarro at Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC). This visit highlighted the amazing work WCTC is doing to grow the manufacturing workforce in southeastern Wisconsin. However, these new jobs will only thrive if our trade policies empower workers and businesses to compete in the global marketplace.
Tomorrow, Milwaukee’s Derco Aerospace Inc. will host President Trump to discuss the need for 21st century trade policies. I am grateful to the president and his administration for focusing on Wisconsin’s manufacturing needs. We must help him finish the job by pushing the USMCA through Congress this year.
The USMCA will benefit Wisconsin directly. One aspect of the new trade deal particularly important to Wisconsin is that it will eliminate components of Canada’s unfair milk pricing program, opening new markets and providing relief for our state’s dairy farmers. The deal will also force Mexico to correct its unfair labor practices, putting American workers on a level playing field. These are two very important provisions considering the fact that, in 2018, 31 percent of all Wisconsin’s exported goods ($7 billion)went to Canada and 15.5 percent went to Mexico ($3.5 billion).
Along with provisions to improve the trading of traditional goods, our new trade deal addressesnewer technologies. The
USMCA will bring our intellectual property standards into the modern era, protecting the work of American innovators and entrepreneurs. It will also cut costly regulations that keep small businesses from participating in cross-border trade.
This new trade deal is good for America. I’m encouraged that the Mexican Senate overwhelmingly ratified the USMCA in June and that President Trump has met with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau recently in Washington to shore up more support for the agreement. Now, the United States must act. House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, must bring the USMCA before the House for immediate consideration. There should be no delay.
Failure to do so will leave American workers and businesses playing by an outdated set of rules as our foreign competitors move on without us.
I am hearing from small business owners, farmers, young people entering the workforce, and families who want us to rebalance our trade agreements and keep strengthening the American economy with balanced trade rules. Let’s get it done now.
(Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner represents Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District.)