Thursday, July 28, 2005

Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Stands Up For America's Future--Votes Against CAFTA

WASHINGTON – Congressman Harold Ford made the following speech on the floor of the House tonight before voting against CAFTA.

"I have voted for every trade agreement that has come before this Congress, all the ones that have been listed tonight. I was not here when NAFTA passed – my dad was – but I probably would have voted for it had I been here. Large employers, others in my district and farmers all across my state benefit when markets are open.

"But I ran into a problem not long ago. I was traveling through Crossville, Tennessee, and as a matter of fact the son of mayor [J.H.] Graham in Crossville came to see me today. And I ran into a lady who was there with her daughter and her granddaughter. Now the grandmother had just lost her job at a company in Crossville. She’s about 60 years old. The daughter is a middle school teacher, an eighth-grade teacher. And the 11-year-old granddaughter is going to sixth grade.

"I felt bad for the grandmother, and I felt okay for the mother, because she had a job. The grandmother had worked almost 30 years. But I felt worse for the 11-year-old.

"As I think about all these trade agreements and trade policies – and I have to tell you I like the idea of us being able to sell goods anywhere – I don’t know what to tell the 60-year-old grandmother anymore. I used to tell her that jobs would be created once we did these things. But she lost hers. She’s past her productive prime, so where does she go? Does she move to India, Singapore, China, Canada or Mexico? I doubt it. The daughter at least has a job. But the granddaughter is 11 years old and we don’t have a national strategy to teach her math, science or any of the essentials that she needs to learn to compete in a global society.

"President Clinton, who supported these trade agreements, at least had an investment agenda that accompanied his trade policies. We have neither now. And the challenge before this Congress this evening is not whether we pass this trade bill in the interest of our friends in the financial services and in the computer and IP industries and entertainment industries. The question we have tonight is ‘what are we doing for that 11-year-old girl?’ Sure, we can produce movies and talent here but will we be producing it here? Sure, we can make things and have the capacity to do it. But will we be making things here? I ask my colleagues, how do we answer that 11-year-old granddaughter in Crossville, Tennessee?

"We owe every 11 year old in America a better answer to how to create jobs and prosperity, something more than this trade bill. With that, I will vote no on CAFTA this evening."

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