An Open Letter in support of H.R. 2165, a bill to repeal the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs under the Trade Act of 1974.

TheHonorable Dennis Ross
UnitedStates House of Representatives
404Cannon House Office Building
Washington,D.C. 20515 

DearRepresentative Ross:

On behalf of the 362,000 members ofthe National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write in support of your bill, H.R. 2165,a bill to repeal the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs under the TradeAct of 1974. Your legislation would end an unnecessary and costly federalprogram that gives undue preferences to a minuscule, politically-favoredsection of the American workforce.

The TAA program provides workers “displaced”by foreign trade with an array of compensatory remuneration, far beyondtraditional unemployment benefits, under the rationale that they were leftunemployed due to economic factors beyond their control. Not only does thisperpetuate the wrongheaded assumption that free trade is harmful, but alsocreates an awkward distinction between jobs lost due to foreign competition andjobs lost due to a host of other reasons including new technologies, changingconsumer tastes, or domestic competition. Rather that denigrate free trade,policymakers should consider the plight of U.S. workers displaced by a lack of vigorous commerce with othernations.

Unfortunately, extensions of thewasteful TAA program have long been the cost of support for the free-tradepolicies that have allowed American consumers to enjoy more choices bettervalue. In similar fashion, the Obama Administration is insisting that an extensionof TAA be tied to the ratification of the pending free trade agreements withSouth Korea, Panama and Colombia. This is nothing more than a political handoutto a small but powerful group (organized labor) at the expense of economicgrowth, jobs, and lower prices that would benefit all taxpayers. With ourgovernment mired in an overspending crisis and America’s economic recoverysputtering, now is the time to promote job growth, not saddle taxpayers withTAA’s $2.4 billion price-tag.

Recently, NTU has strongly beensupportive of legislative efforts to allow for an up or down vote on thepending free trade agreements without a renewal of the Trade AdjustmentAssistance program. H.R. 2165 would go one step further, not only ensuringseparate votes, but repealing the wasteful TAA program altogether. Doing so isan appropriate response not only to current fiscal conditions but also toconcerns that both the Office of Management and Budget and the GovernmentAccountability Office have raised over the program’s effectiveness.

The liberalization of trade is a goalthat should transcend parties and politics. It not only engenders innovationand lower prices on our shores, but is a powerful force to propagate the virtueof freedom and the benefits of economic development around the globe. For thesereasons, NTU supports H.R. 2165 and hopes to work with you toward ensuring astand-alone vote on the free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama andColombia.

Brandon Greife
FederalGovernment Affairs Manager