- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Senate Democrats on Wednesday unveiled a set of trade policy items as part of their “Better Deal” economic agenda, saying they want to crack down on unfair trade practices and make it harder for companies to ship jobs overseas.

“For far too long, our trade laws have given multinational corporations and foreign competitors a leg up on the American worker,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer. “They put the corporate bottom line ahead of the workers’ bottom line.”

The plan includes an independent trade prosecutor who would challenge unfair trade practices by countries like China, and a jobs council that could block potential acquisitions of American companies by their foreign counterparts if it meant U.S. jobs would be lost.

It also calls for a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which President Trump has advocated, with an eye toward boosting agricultural exports.

Democrats also want to penalize federal contractors who outsource jobs, impose “Buy America” policies for federal projects, penalize currency manipulators, and slap an “outsourcing tax” on companies that leave the United States.

Trade is a key part of Mr. Trump’s agenda. The administration says that along with rolling back regulations and reforming the tax code, trade is vital to jump-starting the economy.

Mr. Schumer, though, said Mr. Trump has “talked a good game” on trade but has done virtually nothing.

“We need action. And if President Trump wants to work with us to get these things done, good, because we need a better deal for American workers, period,” he said.

Mr. Trump is reportedly weighing whether to open an investigation into China’s trade practices, including potential intellectual property theft. He has also called on China in recent weeks to help combat North Korea’s recent aggressions.

Mr. Schumer also took the Senate floor on Wednesday to urge Mr. Trump to back up his tough talk on China with concrete action to crack down on intellectual property theft and artificially cheap goods.

“Tough talk and tweets are cheap, strong and decisive action is required,” Mr. Schumer said.

“American workers have waited too long for our country to crack down on abusive trade practices that have robbed our country of millions of good-paying jobs.”

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