Golden Stands Up to Washington Establishment, Votes Against Trade Deal

December 19, 2019
Press Release
Golden: “This trade deal doesn’t replace the NAFTA framework that failed America, or make a difference for Maine’s economy. All it does is continue to pick winners and losers.”

WASHINGTON — Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) stood up for Maine workers today, voting against the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA). Golden pointed to a number of critical shortcomings in the trade deal, including inadequate country of origin labeling laws, insufficient environmental protections, and most importantly, that it will fail to stop the outsourcing of American jobs or bring back those that were lost because of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

USMCA is intended to replace NAFTA. However, the new trade deal falls well short of the transformational change required to fix the flaws in NAFTA. While Democrats have been able to make positive changes to the deal in recent months, USMCA as originally drafted was still 95% the same as NAFTA, according to top Republican Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). 

“This trade deal doesn’t replace the NAFTA framework that failed America, or make a difference for Maine’s economy. All it does is continue to pick winners and losers,” said Congressman Golden. “When the administration negotiated the deal, they went to bat for big tech, big agriculture, and big pharma. So it’s no surprise that big tech, big ag, and other huge corporations — none of which exist in Maine — are the winners at the end of the day. This deal is better than it was when it was first announced, but it falls well short of what’s actually needed in a trade deal: to stop American jobs from being shipped overseas.” 

“Maine’s 2nd district jobs come from the forest products industry, from small farmers and fishermen, and from Maine’s shipyards,” continued the congressman. “This trade deal will not address the challenges of these Maine industries. It does nothing to stop the pressures of Canadian tubed lobster or softwood lumber or the pellett dumping that kill Maine jobs. These are the types of trade priorities that I will remain focused on, not big agriculture in the Midwest, big tech in Silicon Valley, Amazon, pharma, or the oil and gas industries.” 

“The president and the Washington establishment are going to claim this as a victory, but it is only a political win, not an economic win for the families who have been hurt by NAFTA. President Trump promised to bring back manufacturing jobs and this deal will fail to deliver on that promise. Republicans in the Midwest want this deal simply as a means to secure certainty at a time when the president’s tariff wars with China have hurt Midwest farmers. Democrats who represent Silicon Valley, or regions with a large corporate presence, are seeking a win to bring back home. But for Maine, and many other regions that lost under NAFTA, this deal will bring home no relief. It is a missed opportunity to deliver real and lasting change,” said Golden.  

Golden agrees with President Trump that NAFTA has been a broken promise for American workers. Before signing NAFTA in 1994, President Clinton told Americans the trade deal would create 1 million new jobs. Those jobs failed to materialize in Maine, which lost more than 30,000 jobs in manufacturing alone between when NAFTA was signed in 1994 and 2015. 

Golden has been raising concerns with NAFTA since taking office in January. He used the occasion of the president’s 2019 State of the Union address to call for crucial changes to the trade deal. Since then, he has met with workers throughout the state to collect their feedback and better understand how the trade deal will affect Maine. 

“USMCA does not fulfill the promise that was made to U.S. workers to negotiate an agreement that dramatically replaces the current trade template that continues to cost U.S. workers hundreds of thousands of jobs. While it contains some improvements, the outsourcing of U.S. jobs to Mexico will continue at an alarming rate under USMCA. This is not the renegotiated agreement that was promised to U.S. workers and their communities.” - Robert Martinez Jr., International President, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers 

“With the House of Representatives set to vote on the revised NAFTA (also known as USMCA) shortly, it is important to discuss what this agreement is and what it is not. It is not a "fix" for the many problems created by NAFTA and other misguided tax and labor policies that have flourished for decades in our nation's capital and statehouses throughout the country. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs that have gone to Mexico since NAFTA came into being 25 years ago will not return because of USMCA.” - Rory Gamble, President, United Auto Workers

Golden outlined the shortcomings he sees in the trade agreement that make it a bad deal for Maine: 

The American economy won’t see a benefit from the USMCA for six years, and even then it will be minimal: The administration’s own estimates show no positive economic growth arising from the trade deal for six years. According to its April 2019 analysis of the USMCA, the U.S. International Trade Commission calculated that economic growth generated by the trade deal would be minimal, raising GDP by 0.35 percent and adding a mere 176,000 jobs.

USMCA continues to incentivize outsourcing of American jobs: While improved from the original agreement, the renegotiated USMCA would continue to incentivize the outsourcing of jobs in the auto and manufacturing sectors. According to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), the Regional Value Content provisions in the renegotiated bill provides no guarantees that jobs will be created and manufacturing plants will open in the United States. Violations of USMCA rules are not penalized with the denial of entry of goods. Rather, violators will be subject to tariffs, which most corporations would accept as a "cost of doing business.” Corporations will continue to pursue low-cost options through the exploitation of low wage workers in Mexico. 

USMCA imagines a Mexican labor environment that does not exist: Bad actors in Mexico continue to suppress wages and benefits. The likeliest outcome of USMCA will be the continuation of a system that has kept Mexican wages artificially low, sucked middle class jobs out of the U.S. and Canada, and reduced the standard of living of workers in all three countries.

USMCA’s labor provisions are likely unenforceable, assuming Washington will even prioritize enforcement: The track record of enforcement of past trade deals, not only NAFTA, is poor and has been widely unsuccessful.

USMCA affords too much discretion to the U.S. Trade Representative: The renegotiated deal affords the U.S. Trade Representative a significant level of discretion in deploying labor enforcement mechanisms. In the event the U.S. determines that Mexican workers’ rights are being denied, the decision of whether or not to even establish an investigative body rests with the U.S. Trade Representative. If the Trade Representative declines to create such a panel, the implementing legislation voted on today merely requires the Trade Representative to explain that decision to Congress. If Congress disagrees with the Trade Representative’s decision, there is no mechanism to overturn it.

USMCA perpetuates weak environmental standards, rewards polluters: The negotiated deal does not include any binding environmental standards for the three trading countries. This will incentivize corporations to avoid U.S. environmental laws by outsourcing production to Mexico, where clean air and water laws are much weaker.