Trump Administration Positions for a Tougher Stance in U.S.-China Trade

As both the American and Chinese trade teams digest commitments made during President Donald Trump’s dinner meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G20 Summit, it’s still unclear what exactly will come from the 90-day pause on tariff increases.

However, news that United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is leading point for this next phase of U.S.-China trade negotiations suggests that the Trump administration is renewing its commitment to ending China’s unfair trade practices, which have long gone unchecked.

Lighthizer has an extended history of criticizing Chinese trade, opposing the country’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001.

This November a 53-page report released by the Office of the United States Representative detailed the unfair trade and intellectual property policies that advantage Chinese industry and found that these practices are ongoing despite China’s promises:  

“As the evidence gathered in this update demonstrates, China fundamentally has not altered its acts, policies, and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation, and indeed appears to have taken further unreasonable actions in recent months.”

Just how much Lighthizer will be able to accomplish in this short period of time during which trade talks will take place is unclear – resolving over 20 years of unfair trade practices over the course of 90 days sounds tricky, to say the least --- but he’s pulled off tight deadlines before. 

When the clock was running out for a new treaty to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, Lighthizer managed to deliver the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which was signed during the G20 Summit and will make its way through Congress.

So here’s hoping that Lighthizer pulls through again, keeping the U.S. trade team on course to hold China accountable and put an end to the trade cheating that has so harmed our nation’s workers and communities.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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