Grijalva: Trade deal bad for seniors, workers alike

June 8, 2014

As early as this week, the House of Representatives will vote on whether to sideline itself from negotiations on the biggest trade deal of the 21st century.

That deal — the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP — binds our economy and the fates of our workers with those of 11 other nations, many of whom do not hold the same high labor standards that we do, and some of whom are notorious for human-rights violations and currency manipulation.

Forcing American workers to compete with workers in Vietnam earning less than 60 cents an hour will have a predictable outcome: Jobs will be outsourced and livelihoods will be lost.

The upcoming vote includes a provision called Trade Adjustment Assistance, or TAA, which provides much-needed assistance to workers who lose their jobs due to trade deals. The fact that TAA is necessary at all is an admission that this trade deal is bad for our workers. Proponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership might be selling it as an economic boon, but they’re laying the groundwork for it to be a job-killer.

And here’s the kicker: Republicans want to pay for TAA by cutting $700 million from Medicare. Seniors should never have to pay the price for bad trade deals. Nor should American workers, for that matter.

Ask yourself this: Is this the height of our democracy? Is the act of Congress voting to excuse itself from tough decisions really what our founders intended? Or in the best interests of the American people? Do people elect representatives every two years just so they can come to Washington to vote not to vote? Or to pit vulnerable seniors against workers in dire need as a result of toxic policies?

Read the full op-ed in the Tucson Daily Star by clicking here.