The California Chapter of the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) held their annual dinner in San Diego on January 11th at the Del Mar Hilton to look back on this year’s work and ahead to the coming year, as well as honor those who have helped make that work successful. Nearly 80 attendees joined me in showing our appreciation to Senator Mark Wyland for being the co-host of the well-attended “Manufacturing in the Golden State–Making California Thrive” economic summit last February. Unfortunately, co-host Assemblymember Toni Atkins was unable to be present. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly and County Supervisor Dave Roberts attended along with staff representing Congresswoman Susan Davis, Congressman Darrell Issa, Assemblyman Brian Jones, and Assemblyman Rocky Chavez.
I shared how I became involved with CPA, which is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization established in 2007 as a coalition of manufacturing, farming, ranching, and labor to fix the U.S. trade deficit and the economy. CPA uniquely joins these distinct groups and focuses on both grass roots and Washington, D. C. lobbying efforts. CPA educates business, organization and political leaders about the economic harm caused by the trade deficit, methods to correct the deficit, and the need to develop and implement a national strategy to produce more in the U.S. so jobs and the taxes they create stay in the U. S.
When I was researching and writing the chapter “What is being done now to save American manufacturing?” for the first edition of my book in 2008, I found many trade and professional organizations that were focused on a particular issue important to their industry or profession, but there didn’t seem to be any collaboration between the organizations to support or oppose issues that affected American manufacturers. The two most powerful organizations, the National Association of Manufacturers and the U. S. Chamber of Congress seemed to be controlled by the large multinational corporations whose position on various issues were at odds with those of smaller American-only manufacturing corporations.
After my book was published in 2009, I met Ian Fletcher, author of Free Trade Doesn’t Work: What should replace it and why, and he introduced me to CPA when he became their Sr. Economist in early 2011. I realized this was just the kind of organization I had been looking for and started participating in their member-at-large monthly conference calls to share what we were each doing to work on issues adversely affecting American manufacturing.
I volunteered to help CPA put on a Smart Trade Conference on March 28, 2012, and one of the people that attended was Donna Cleary, Field Rep for State Senator Mark Wyland. She asked CPA to facilitate putting on a manufacturing summit in the fall. Because of the national election, we postponed the summit to February 2013, which gave us more time to solicit partners and sponsors. Our partner list became the “who’s who” of organizations in San Diego, and the summit was very successful. In addition to being a bi-partisan event, what made it different was that we broke into small groups after the main presentations and conducted “pair wise” voting on issues to come up with the top two issues: California regulations and the need for a national manufacturing strategy.
We formed a Manufacturing Task Force and produced a report that we disseminated to all of the attendees and subsequently presented to our Congressional delegation. We also presented CPA position papers on the trade deficit, currency manipulation, County of Origin labeling, Border Adjustable Taxes, and “Fast Track” Authority for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (a trade and global governance agreement being negotiated by the U.S. with eleven Pacific Rim nations).
We sponsored a viewing of the film “Death by China” in September, which clearly shows that we are in a trade war with China that we are losing, and American companies aren’t competing against Chinese companies, but the Chinese government itself.
The next speaker was Mike Dolan, Legislative Representative for the Teamsters, who said, “If CPA didn’t exist, we’d have to invent it.” His basic point was that, based on his long experience working on the Hill and in the field for Fair Trade (fighting expansion of the flawed and failed NAFTA/WTO model), we can win the current battles of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Fast Track if and only if we build and maintain a strong bipartisan mobilization. He called the TPP “NAFTA on steroids.” He doesn’t see a path to victory next year on sensible trade policy without the Coalition for a Prosperous America and the constituencies it represents — small business, particularly in industries that are sensitive to trade fluctuations, family farmers and ranchers, working families and “trade patriot” activists including the Tea Party cadres.
Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) was the next speaker. He said they joined the Coalition because their industry was being unfavorably impacted by current U. S. trade policies and unfair trade practices by our trading partners. He said, “The number of privately owned cattle and sheep ranches has been going down dramatically since 1994 when NAFTA went into effect and accelerated after China became part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2000. The size of the beef and sheep herd has been decreasing every year, while imports of beef, lamb, and mutton have been increasing.” Shockingly, he revealed that fast food restaurants are not required to disclose the origins of their beef and even when restaurants say the beef is “U.S. Inspected,” it is as likely as not to be imported. Their industry especially needs the government to provide consumer package labeling to show where meat and livestock was born, raised and slaughtered and to reverse the current policy of lowering U.S. health and safety standards just to facilitate more imported meat.
CPA President Michael Stumo presentation was “A Prosperity Strategy for America,” in which he stated: “We are convincing Congress that we need “net exports,” not merely more exports, to be a successful trading and producing nation. In 2011, our trade deficit shaved an astounding 4% from overall U. S. GDP. We should have a national goal to grow manufacturing back up to 20% of GDP rather than 11%.
Supply chains are the lifeblood of our economy, and all tiers of suppliers to the OEMs are important. They produce the jobs, the job multipliers, the wealth, the innovation, and the intellectual property of a successful developed economy. Those in Washington who are pushing “global supply chains” are really pushing offshoring of our supply chain. We need a strategy of acquiring, keeping, and growing “domestic supply chains” for a strong America.
We need to stop offshoring our manufacturing jobs and the taxes they create to safeguard our economic strength, our democracy and our constitutional republic. The globalization agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership are only 15% about tariffs and quotas and 85% about non-trade topics. These other topics include financial regulation, taxes, food and product safety, product labeling, government procurement of domestic supplies, and other matters. These globalization deals transfer the authority of Congress and states over these domestic policy issues to unelected international tribunals of foreign trade lawyers.
The old way of manufacturing and labor working separately for their interests no longer works. These issues are a macro problem for our country and affect all Americans. That’s why manufacturers, farmers, ranchers and workers must work together.
It is working. A large part of Congress signed a letter opposing Fast Track trade authority because of sovereignty and economic issues. Leadership on important committees is talking about net exports rather gross exports. A majority of the House and Senate signed a letter calling for effective protections against foreign currency manipulation in future international agreements. We need to win. Vince Lombardi said ‘winning isn’t everything… it’s the only thing.’ We can win these issues by expanding our membership of individuals, companies, and organizations and expanding from eight state chapters to at least 25 chapters.”
In the wrap-up presentation, Dave Frengel, Director of Government Relations, Penn United Technologies, a precision tool making company, said, “We have 600 employees today, but if our government had been standing up for us against China’s unfair trade practices, we would have 1200 employees, most in family-sustaining jobs with good benefits. Unfair trade affects the entire U.S. supply-chain, not just our company. Our government has been turning its back on production of food and manufactured goods. Our precision tooling and manufacturing industry, which is critical to America’s industrial economy, is a third of what it was before this era of bad U.S. trade policy began. The resulting loss of jobs is huge.”
He continued, “When I was asked by my boss to “fix trade” 11 years ago, we tried working within the National Association of Manufacturers, but our voice and that of other American-only manufactures was ignored. We realized that we needed to join not only with manufacturers and concerned citizens, but with farmers, ranchers and workers to win. We realized that the mission would not be accomplished through existing organizations – we needed a new organization to get the job done. That is why we were a founding member of CPA.
For nearly seven years now, CPA has been holding events all over the nation to raise awareness and mobilize local leaders around trade reform issues. CPA members and staff made over 200 legislative visits this past year. The credibility and influence of CPA is growing and our trade reform message is becoming more convincing as we continue to have crucial conversations with a growing circle of trade policy leaders in Washington, D. C.
We are opening new doors with trade negotiators inside the Obama Administration, the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Senate Finance Committee. Our efforts helped gain massive Congressional opposition to Fast Track trade authority and in support of our constitution. Our efforts helped gain a majority of Senate and House support for effective currency manipulation provisions in all future trade deals.
The Chinese will negotiate forever without changing their predatory trade strategies. We need protection from those who cheat us, which requires strong enforcement of international trade rules by our government. We can compete against foreign companies, but not against foreign governments that rig markets to cheat us out of our share of markets. The Coalition for a Prosperous America works for trade reform that delivers prosperity and security to America, its citizens, factories, farms, and working people. The solutions that CPA focuses on will benefit those who make and grow things here.”
In conclusion, he stated, “We are gaining more GOP support, more Democrat support, more Tea Party support, more citizen support, and more producer support. This year, we’re starting to win – because of the growth in size and influence of the Coalition for a Prosperous America. We need to get stronger. We need you to consider joining CPA as an individual or a company member or to make a tax deductible donation to the CPA Education Fund.”
Bad U. S. trade policy is a major cause of California’s economic crisis. Offshoring has cost California hundreds of thousands of its manufacturing jobs. Family members lost good jobs; communities declined; property values plummeted. We Californians know that we need a smarter U.S. trade strategy.
As a fledgling chapter, we are already influencing the trade policy positions of San Diego’s Congressional delegation, but need to grow to influence the other 48 Representatives and our two Senators to support better trade deals that will grow our economy. This is not a Republican issue nor a Democratic issue, but an American issue, and they must vote right to properly represent California. We need to get stronger and grow to accomplish our goals. We need your involvement and financial support to make a difference. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to participate in the California Chapter.