Monday, July 23, 2007
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Why TAA is not a valuable bargaining chip
I've had enough conversations with Hill staffers to know the political lay of the land on expanding Trade Adjustment Assistance to service sector workers:
1) Everyone recognizes that the current TAA rules -- which only apply to the manufacturing sector -- make little sense in a world where more and more services are tradeable;I bring all this up because of Lori Montgomery's front-pager in the Washington Post today:
As part of their campaign to soothe an anxious middle class, congressional Democrats are preparing legislation that would significantly expand federal aid to the most obvious victims of the global economy: workers whose jobs move offshore or are lost to foreign imports.I'd love it if the GOP could get this quid pro quo, but it ain't gonna happen. I can't see any TAA program that would convince Democrats to renew fast track.
This is so partly because although many Democrats genuinely want to expand the program, others are offering it only lip service. Unions, in particular, loathe TAA, because even if it provides fiscal relief to their members, it also facilitates the movement of workers to non-union sectors. In other words, TAA undercuts the organizational power of unions. They can't outright oppose it, because they've been calling for it for decades now, but they don't love it.
So, an interesting question -- knowing that fast track ain't happening, should TAA be exapanded? I say yes, because of the poll numbers discussed in the last post. My hunch, however, is that GOP congressmen are going to say no.
The two direct losers from this kind of impasse: service sector workers displaced by offshore outsourcing, and free trade advocates. The first group is small -- the second group is smaller.posted by Dan on 07.23.07 at 12:14 PM
I was laid off in a NAFTA/TAA event, and I got a retraining on a CAD software. That was 3 years ago. When I walked out of the two week training, I was the "most in-experienced drafter" out there. I've been unemployed ever since. My COBRA is over. I'm not counted as unemployed, because I can't apply - it's over. As am I, I fear.posted by: Richard W. Crews on 07.23.07 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
Excellent blog you have here :). Thanks for adding another conservative light to the net! I am trying to get a conservative digg alternative going called GOP Hub (GOPHub.com). Anything you can do to help spread the word would be awesome. Plus feel free to submit any articles you write here on your blog :). Take care and have a great week!posted by: Jon on 07.23.07 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
Economically, I think the TAA is a bad idea because I don't see any reason to privilege those who lose jobs because of trade vs those who lose jobs because of automation or changing consumer tastes or poor management or whatever. The need for a safety net is the same in all cases.
But I recognize that of the causes of 'creative destruction', only trade is really being identified as the bogey-man and so, politically, an expansion of the TAA may make sense, for those who would like to see those poll numbers change. But I, too, am not optimistic about any bills passing.
A broader approach to transitions and training would be desirable, but sometimes things are more valuable as issues than as solutions.
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