As the President prepares to address a joint session of Congress to unveil his jobs plan, it would be wise to focus on what can be done immediately to spur economic growth and job creation. Passage of the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama would support thousands of jobs and provide new opportunities for American businesses abroad and workers at home. No small measure considering the U.S. is coming off of a month of zero job growth. Yet, the President has allowed these agreements to sit for nearly three years.
By Obama’s own admission, the pending FTAs will be a job creator. The South Korea agreement alone is estimated to create 70,000 jobs. However, Obama continues to play politics, accusing Congressional Republicans of standing in the way. With all due respect, it’s a bit difficult to stand in the way of legislation that has yet to be submitted to Congress. Additionally, once the agreements are submitted, they will almost assuredly pass with broad bi-partisan support. That’s something you rarely see in Washington these days.
So what exactly is the hold up? As Minority Leader Mitch McConnell explains in the Washington Post:
For three years, the administration has delayed finalizing these deals because unions have been extracting concessions in exchange for their support. Early on, they demanded further concessions and political reforms from our trading partners, all of which have been satisfied. Now, they’re demanding taxpayer funds for worker training programs that many believe are not only duplicative and costly but may not even be effective. Still, I and others have told the president we are prepared to allow this program to move ahead for a vote as a sign of good faith and to move the trade deals forward.
As Administration continues to talk of the importance of job creation, its time to put their money where their mouth is. Enacting policies that will boost trade will do much more in the immediate and long term to grow the economy and create new jobs than any program that continues government spending programs. Congress and the Administration should work to pass the pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Increasing trade by lowering tariffs and subsidies worldwide provides new markets for all sectors of the American economy and that’s good for jobs too.