Congress Sends Mixed Messages on China Currency, Trade

With a 63-35 vote, the U.S. Senate passed legislation to crack down on China’s unfair currency manipulation. The bipartisan Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011 provides sanctions on China and any other nation that manipulates its currency.

Economists across the political spectrum agree that China has been actively manipulating its currency to stay 20 to 40 percent lower in value than it should be. This misalignment ensures suppliers invest primarily in Chinese goods because the goods cost less to make than in the U.S.

“China’s currency manipulation has imposed a tremendous cost on America’s workers and producers,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “We have lost millions of manufacturing jobs because we failed to hold China accountable for its unfair trade policies. I commend the U.S. Senate on finally taking action and saying, ‘No more.’”

But while the Senate vote to end Chinese currency manipulation may have signaled a positive move in the right direction in addressing the nation’s pervasive unemployment issue and lack of job creation, the passage of three deeply-flawed trade deals in the same week suggests otherwise.

Both the House and Senate passed the South Korea, Colombia and Panama Free Trade Agreements (FTA). The pacts – each fashioned off the failed 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – threaten to send more than 159,000 U.S. jobs overseas.

In another imprudent move by Congress, a procedural vote to move the president’s jobs bill, known as the American Jobs Act, was defeated by conservative opposition in the Senate. That piece of legislation promised to create jobs by reviving the U.S. infrastructure, prohibiting employers from discriminating against the unemployed and providing much-needed relief to the jobless by extending unemployment insurance benefits.

“The threat of another recession is very real,” said Buffenbarger. “What we need is a comprehensive plan to put people back to work immediately, not more of the same failed policies that got us here in the first place.”

Even though house conservatives blocked the initial American Jobs Act, pieces of the bill will continue to move through Congress. Click here and here to tell Congress to make this bill workable so America’s jobless can get back to work.