Commentary

Poliquin: Obama’s TPA Would Kill Maine Jobs

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For decades, Maine’s Second Congressional District was home to dozens of thriving paper, textile, shoe, and leather factories and mills that employed tens of thousands of hard-working Maine families.

Today, most of those companies have closed and those jobs are lost because of unfair trade agreements, such as NAFTA, foreign competition, stringent regulations, and high energy costs and taxes.

In May, President Obama traveled to Nike, who produces their shoes in Vietnam, in Oregon to promote his fast-track trade authority agenda.

If the President had done his research, he would have visited our New Balance facilities in Maine to promote trade and explain how it would help Maine workers – but he didn’t.

Granting Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) would empower the President and his international trade representatives to negotiate complex trade agreements with multiple countries after which Congress would only have a simple yes or no vote without any possibility of changing the agreements.

In April, I had the opportunity to tour the New Balance facility in Norridgewock.

New Balance is the only remaining U.S. manufacturer of athletic footwear. Roughly 900 highly skilled Maine workers make those shoes right here in Norridgewock, Norway, and Skowhegan.

I believe we must do everything possible to keep these jobs in Maine so despite pressure from House leadership and the White House, I voted against granting the President fast-track trade negotiating authority.

As someone who has created jobs, I understand how important it is for companies to be able to sell their goods and services overseas. However, my primary responsibility is helping to protect and grow our Second District jobs by making sure our mills, factories, and other employers are able to compete on a level playing field in the global market place.

This proposed fast-track legislation does not achieve that goal and our hard-working Mainers deserve better.

As I have repeatedly said, trade is fine as long as it is fair.

Many of us still remember and personally felt the effects of NAFTA and our Office is currently battling unfair subsidies from Canada that our hurting our paper mills. Again, we must have fair trade and the President’s proposal did not reach that requirement.

We need tougher and fairer trade agreements that help American businesses grow and protect Maine jobs, not those that kill paychecks.

It’s important that the People’s representatives are able to help shape those agreements to be certain the workers in their districts are treated fairly. In Congress, I will always stand up for Maine families, workers, and the businesses that employ them.

About Bruce Poliquin

Congressman Bruce Poliquin is a third generation Mainer from a big-hearted Franco-American family. He was appointed to the House Financial Services Committee where he works on a wide range of issues related to providing oversight of the financial services sector and helping to grow the American economy. As your representative, Congressman Poliquin will continue to use his life, business and government experiences to help our hard-working families and businesses, create jobs and grow Maine’s economy.

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