Eliot Spitzer: I want to come back to the outsourcing issue. Mitt Romney obviously being, in my view, properly attacked for the outsourcing that Bain did, how do we actually stopped that. To some extent, are not these not laws of economics? Are these choices that we can actually force companies not to make, not to send jobs overseas?
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter: Eliot, let’s talk about trade bills for just a second because I have been against those since I got into Congress including the ones that we passed this term. But I have never seen any kind of trade agreement the United States made with another country that advantaged in any way the American manufacturers. In many cases I think they were pretty much sent overseas.
And manufacturers, you know, we have never been able to deal with a law that allows Congress to pay people to outsource. That is an annoyance beyond belief, as many things in Washington are today.
But I found a trade bill as well that will finally advantage manufacturers in America by saying that we can change the conditions of a trade bill. It wasn’t tariffs that really bothered so much as the unseen barriers: for example, with cars, the steering wheel wasn’t big enough, this light doesn’t look right, I don’t like that bumper.
We sold eight thousand cars in Japan last year. That should tell us a lot. We sell eight thousand cars in every town in America, just about, of Japanese origin. So we have been just pretty stupid about trade policies far as I’m concerned.
Eliot Spitzer: Louise, I could not agree with you more and I think you put your finger on the very issue that we need to talk about, which is that—and I hate to admit it, this is unfortunate—it has been a bipartisan error. President Clinton signed a lot of the trade bills.
Louise Slaughter: All of them. Yes.
Eliot Spitzer: That’s right. There have been two pieces, two pillars, of our economic strategy that have been fundamentally wrong: one was deregulation of Wall Street; the other was trade bills that were simply oblivious, as you point out, to our manufacturing base. Can we get the President to change on this?
Louise Slaughter: I don’t know. I hope so. I have certainly been trying because of this bill that I got. But this goes all the way back. NAFTA, of course, as we know, has done absolutely nothing for us. And what I watched towns like mine and cities around us be boarded up where people used to work. It was a stupid thing for us to do.
We were in the top manufacturing in the world, we were extraordinarily generous, and we need to be because we had a lot of things going for us, but what we did was give away our seed corn. Nobody does that but we did it.
But what we have to do is pay attention to enforce trade agreements, and that can’t be done by the person who negotiates the trade agreement, which is what we do now. It needs to be in a whole new department of the country but what we have done is make it possible for the Congress itself to stop the trade agreement until it is straightened out. And that’s what we need.
Eliot Spitzer: You are from the Rochester Buffalo portion of upstate New York, which is part of what people used to refer to as the rust belt. It used to be the industrial manufacturing core of America. You understand exactly what has happened to hollow out our economy, and I sure hope that you will continue to hammer on this.
Louise Slaughter: I sure will. I am so involved in this that I eat and sleep this Bill so that we can try once to advantage American manufacturers.