U.S. Is the Loser in New Trade Deal

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Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Peter DeFazio For The Register-Guard

Proponents of so-called "free" trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement, which I opposed, have long promised endless riches for U.S. workers, farmers, businesses and economy. They've been wrong on all counts.

Failed U.S. trade policies have led to the export of millions of high-paying American jobs, a decline in U.S. living standards, soaring trade deficits and a significant erosion of U.S. sovereignty to international trade bureaucrats.

Despite this unbroken record of failure, Congress will soon consider an agreement the Bush administration negotiated to expand NAFTA to Central America via the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). It will take significant grass-roots opposition to convince enough of my colleagues to block the free trade hucksters. Here's why CAFTA must be defeated.

CAFTA will increase the already record-high U.S. trade deficit.

The U.S. trade deficit this year is running at an annual rate of $717.2 billion, a full $100 billion above the record deficit set last year. We must borrow nearly $2 billion every day from foreigners to finance this deficit.

Prior to NAFTA, the U.S. had a trade surplus with Mexico. In the wake of NAFTA, the surplus turned into a deficit that has risen steadily. The U.S. already has a trade deficit with the Central American countries of $1.6 billion, which will only grow under CAFTA. Deficits are dangerous because they cost jobs and put our economic and national security in the hands of foreigners who finance them.

CAFTA will lead to the export of U.S. jobs.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce predicted NAFTA would create 170,000 jobs in the U.S. They were a little off. The actual result was a net loss of nearly 880,000 U.S. jobs, including more than 12,000 in Oregon. Looking at the numbers beyond NAFTA, Oregon has lost 40,000 jobs due to failed trade policies since 1994. CAFTA will be more of the same.

CAFTA is not about exporting U.S. goods to Central America.

More than 40 percent of workers in Central America make less than $2 a day. The combined economic might of the five Central American countries is only $151 billion, about what the U.S. economy produces in five days. Even if every penny of these countries' economies was devoted to buying U. …