As seen in the Des Moines Register on December 13, 2009

America needs more jobs. 

Unemployment is killing us. I know of so many people who have lost their job and many of those still employed feel insecure.

The President held a “jobs summit” to look for solutions.

I don’t trust the President’s judgment when it comes to creating jobs.  He’s never run a business or even worked in the business sector. In fact, he is openly adversarial to the private sector.

What does he believe in?  Higher taxes on oil companies.  Higher taxes on capital gains.  Higher income taxes for high income earners.  More government regulations on practically everything.  Budget-busting stimulus packages.

His ideas aren’t creating jobs.  They deter job creation because they increase the cost of doing business.  They increase the risk associated with running a business.

The President and his party could do something very practical right now to create jobs:  approve the Korea Free Trade Agreement.

South Korea is a huge market for manufacturing, services, and especially agriculture products.  The upside to the agreement is substantial.

The man who helped negotiate the treaty in 2007 was in Des Moines over Thanksgiving.  David Spooner was Assistant Secretary for Import Administration under President Bush.  He told me: “The Korean agreement would reduce our trade deficit.  As we try to pull out of our recession, it should be a no-brainer to pass a trade bill that will reduce our trade deficit.  The average job linked to exports earns 17% more than the non export-related jobs.  The trade agreement would promote quality jobs.”

Did you know Korea is the sixth largest export market for pork?  Japan is number one.  But according to the Iowa Pork Producer’s website, pork exports to Korea could surpass Japan’s once the treaty is fully implemented.  Even more, they project the agreement would give our pork producers an increase of $10 per hog marketed.

This is good news for Iowa.

Iowa Congressman, Leonard Boswell, supports the treaty:  “The U.S. – South Korea Free Trade Agreement is a significant opportunity for Iowa as an agricultural commodity state and the home of agriculture manufacturing companies.”

I talked to Senator Grassley about the bill.  He called the agreement “vital”, even more important that the one we have with Canada, who is our biggest trading partner.  He pointed out that the U.S. converted trade deficits into surpluses after implementation of trade agreements with Chile, Morocco, Bahrain, Oman, Central America, and the Dominican Republic.

After implementation of agreements with Singapore, Australia, and Peru, our trade surpluses with those countries got even bigger.  And Korea is a much bigger trading partner than any of these.  The upside is off the charts.  Grassley quotes Department of Commerce figures that tell us every billion dollar increase in U.S. exports create 20,000 jobs.

Free trade is good for America generally and Iowa specifically.

The treaty is negotiated.  The work is done.  So what’s the hold up?

Democratic Party politics.

Representative Boswell’s support notwithstanding, President Obama and his party are  dragging their feet.  They want to go back to the drawing board on this agreement to appease Big Labor who want more protectionism built into the agreement.

There’s no time to dither.  Senator Grassley points out that the European Union has just initialed their own trade agreement with Korea.  In a letter to President Obama, Senator Grassley says:  “If we fail to implement our pending trade agreements promptly, we will place our producers and their workers at a serious competitive disadvantage.  It would be both senseless and irresponsible for us to do so.”

Let’s set politics aside and support policies that really create jobs.  The Korea Trade Agreement is the perfect place to start.

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