In speeches, Obama acknowledges that globalization can't be stopped and has said that he "believe[s] in free trade." His published agenda, however, emphasizes fair trade. "I strongly reject the Bush-McCain view that any trade deal is a good deal," Obama explained in a Miami speech. "We cannot accept trade that enriches those at the top of the ladder while cutting out the rungs at the bottom. It's time to understand that the goal of our trade policy must be trade that works for all people in all countries."
Obama would demand stronger environmental and labor provisions in future negotiations, and would seek to amend existing agreements, especially NAFTA. (NAFTA, he's said, was "oversold to the American people." In the primary campaign, Obama even flirted with the notion that the U.S. "use the hammer of a potential opt-out" of NAFTA should renegotiations prove unsuccessful, even as a senior adviser reportedly tried to reassure our Canadian trading partners that he wouldn't really do it. More recently, he's softened his tone on NAFTA considerably.) Obama opposes (pdf, right-click to save) the pending South Korea trade deal because "it fails to ensure that U.S. products -- especially our cars and trucks, rice and beef -- receive fair treatment in the Korean market." He rejects the Colombia pact "because the violence against unions in Colombia would make a mockery of the very labor protections that we have insisted be included in these kinds of agreements."
Obama would use membership in the World Trade Organization as a carrot to change other behaviors of countries such as Iran and Russia. According to The New York Times, Obama's plan to cap greenhouse gases would punish countries that don't reduce their emissions with import tariffs, though the material the campaign has posted online doesn't mention this.
Obama would defend U.S. trading rights by bulking up the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and making enforcement its "top priority." He would pressure the WTO to enforce trade agreements and enjoin other governments from unfairly subsidizing their exporters or erecting "non-tariff barriers" on U.S. goods. Obama accuses China of manipulating its currency and failing to enforce U.S. copyrights and trademarks.
At the same time, he supports some protectionist measures here in the U.S. These include agricultural subsidies and tariffs, particularly for ethanol producers. He would also offer automakers $4 billion in loan guarantees to ease the transition to manufacturing clean cars. Finally, he would end the tax preference that allows companies to shelter income earned overseas while proposing a tax credit for companies that create jobs here.
Dislocated workers. Obama would require 90 days' notice for layoffs due to plant closings. He would improve Trade Adjustment Assistance, a federal program administered by the states intended to help workers who lose jobs to globalization, expanding it to include all manufacturing jobs that go abroad, not only those lost to countries with trade agreements, and he would make service jobs eligible, too. He would provide additional health care assistance. TAA's retraining component would embrace "flexible education accounts" and be available to workers before they lose their jobs. He would nuture "apprenticeship programs to help workers get credentials and skills in crafts" that promise entry into the middle class.
Finally, Obama proposes an "Advanced Manufacturing Fund", a peer-reviewed grant program based on the Michigan 21st Century Jobs Fund. This would appear to be the same initiative as one described elsewhere (pdf, right-click to save) that is aimed at revitalizing manufacturing centers. In this program, Washington would disburse grants worth $1 billion annually, enabling states to "identify and support local manufacturers with the most compelling plans for modernizing existing or closed manufacturing facilities to produce new advanced clean technologies."
The Obama Record: Obama rates poorly on the Cato Institute's trade scorecard -- he voted with the organization only 36 percent of the time on opposing trade barriers, and none of the time (of two votes cast) in opposition to subsidies. (Like McCain, Obama missed all of the trade votes that Cato considered crucial in 2007 and 2008.)
Will the Ledbetter Law affect your business?
No, I already hang on to all my employee paperwork and I pay workers fairly.
Yes, I'll have to keep employee paperwork longer and be more detailed.
Yes, I'm being sued.
What do you think of President Obama's decision to increase federal dollars for embryonic stem cell research?
I don't approve.
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