Guest Column: Who’s Manzullo fooling?

Guest Column: Who’s Manzullo fooling?

By Chris Remhof

The Rockford area is losing jobs at a staggering rate. The jobs lost are high-paying technical manufacturing jobs that will not be easily replaced. Northern Illinois’ U.S. Congressman Don Manzullo (R-16th) thinks he has the answer. H.R. 1769, the so-called “Job Protection Act of 2003,” is a bill in Congress that Manzullo is co-sponsoring. This “legislation provides tax relief to struggling U.S. corporations while encouraging them to keep production and jobs in America,” says Manzullo. The bill would cut corporate income tax rates for companies depending on how much work they keep in the U.S. It will also bring the U.S. into compliance with the World Trade Organization after they ruled that our government was unfairly subsidizing exports through the Foreign Sales Corporation.

That sounds like a beneficial proposal to the struggling manufacturing industry, but I think that Congressman Manzullo missed the boat again. In fact, I think he got lost in the hotel parking lot. Let me explain.

Tax policy, while important, will not save as many jobs in America as a shift in trade policy will. I believe that the current Free Trade polices that Congressman Manzullo supports are destroying manufacturing at a rate that will leave America very vulnerable in the near future. At every opportunity Don Manzullo has voted for NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), GATT (General Agreement on Taxes and Tariffs), China PNTR (Permanent Normal Trade Relations), and Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority. Each of those votes cast put Illinois jobs at risk.

Take NAFTA, for example. Before NAFTA, supporters claimed that prices would be lower on products and that Mexico would buy more from us. Any jobs that did move to Mexico would help to create a middle class there that then could consume more of America’s goods. This did not happen. With Mexico, we went from a $9 billion trade deficit the year before NAFTA to an $87 billion deficit in 2002. Mexican farmers have been crushed by our subsidized agricultural imports, and the factory towns are often squalid homes to hundreds of thousands of workers, many of whom still live in cardboard boxes and lack clean water.

“Don is working to open up markets overseas, which will provide opportunities for local industry and is continuing his quest to restore free-market principles that allow businesses to excel.” So says Congressman Manzullo’s Web site in a bulletin released the same week that a major machine tool company in Rockford shut its doors after 100 years in business. America has lost more than 3 million manufacturing jobs since the aforementioned major trade agreements became law. Manzullo has been in office since 1993, and on all of these trade agreements he has voted “YES.”

The Nov. 20, 2002, edition of the Washington Times discusses trade and quotes Don Manzullo on recent trade policies: “As a free-trader, I’ve voted for them.” Manzullo went on to say that “…Too many times we have voted for trade only to learn that corporations moved more of their operations or sourcing out of our districts and offshore, leaving behind hard-working Americans with families to feed and no jobs. Those people back in our districts sent us to Congress to represent their interests.”

To me, this is Don Manzullo admitting that his trade philosophy is broken, that it’s costing Americans their jobs, and that he is fully aware of it! If you’re not upset, you’re not paying attention.

‘The huge numbers of laid-off manufacturing employees need their jobs back in order to buy new cars, go on vacations, and spend their money in other ways that invests back into our economy and creates more jobs,” said Manzullo in April 2003.

I agree! If you agree, demand that Congressman Don Manzullo vote against trade deals and agreements that put American workers last and put corporate executives first! We all know that actions speak louder than words, and for an entire decade, Don Manzullo has given northern Illinois plenty of talk but no discernible results. Tell Don to put up or pack up! Mr. Manzullo is using H.R. 1769 to pretend to be concerned about workers who are losing their jobs because of trade when he’s voted for all the trade acts that have caused the job loss! He may be fooling himself, but he won’t fool his constituents.

Chris Remhof is a member of the Ogle County Board

District 3 (Leaf River, Rockvale, Byron & Marion townships).

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