Washington~ Members of the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) visited more than 100 House and Senate offices in the nation’s capital this week to sound an alarm: America’s massive, growing trade deficit is killing jobs, harming communities, and stifling economic growth. In a two-day blitz, CPA members left their mark on Capitol Hill, urging Members to support legislation that would eliminate the nation’s trade deficit, address an overvalued dollar, provide stronger trade enforcement, and tackle troubling trade issues with China.
“The 2018 CPA fly-in was our best yet,” said Dan DiMicco, CPA Chairman. “The presentations and panels were very well received and by far the most informative yet, with great speakers and panelists. Without a doubt we made a strong impact on those we visited on the Hill. Our congressional speakers clearly showed us that our messaging is having an impact.”
In addition to congressional visits, CPA hosted a bipartisan group of Members, including Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY-23), Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL-23), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL-05), and Rep. Robert Pittinger (R-NC-09), for a series of meetings that highlighted the importance of strategic trade.
Michael Stumo, CEO of the CPA said, “We came to Capitol Hill with a united message from our members that Main Street America urgently needs action on trade. We were encouraged to find that our elected officials are becoming more receptive to calls for greater trade enforcement. Our next step is to remind them that voters are watching, and that the time for action is now.”
During a packed, two-day schedule, CPA members provided Members and their staffs with legislative solutions aimed at eliminating America’s trade deficit, which grew to $566 billion last year. A fact sheet produced by CPA offered key reasons why “free” and “strategic” trade can result in balanced trade—instead of the job loss that has plagued America’s productive sectors for the past 15 years. CPA’s 4.1 million members in the manufacturing, labor, and agricultural sectors are united in their view that a continuing trade deficit hampers jobs and productivity nationwide.
CPA chair Dan DiMicco said, “In 2016, voters spoke very clearly at the ballot box. They are frustrated and tired with the business-as-usual approach in Washington. We came to Capitol Hill this week to remind our elected officials that the American people are waiting for action, and that reducing our mammoth trade deficit must be a top priority.”
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was also a popular topic of discussion. CPA’s position on NAFTA is “End It or Mend It.” CPA has long argued that NAFTA has hurt U.S. manufacturing, cost jobs, and reduced investment. In various Hill meetings this week, CPA members explained the provisions that must be included in a “NAFTA 2.0” to help America’s manufacturers, including periodic reviews and a mechanism for countries to withdraw, if necessary.
“The Coalition for a Prosperous America trade conference was very useful and successful in educating our members and legislators about the dangers of continuing our country’s obsession with free trade,” said Roger Simmermaker, author of How to Buy American and a CPA member. “Several times, it was evident that many members of Congress and their staff experienced what I would call “light bulb moments” as we laid out our ideas and strategies for a better and fairer trade policy that will benefit our national economy.”
The recent announcement by President Trump of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports was also a subject of earnest discussion, especially since CPA has many members in the steel industry. During their Hill meetings, CPA members emphasized the importance for national security of a vibrant domestic steel and aluminum industry.
“When real workers, manufacturers, and agriculturalists converge on Washington, theory is tested against reality, and good things begin happening in America,” said Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF and a CPA board member. “There is no question that CPA had a positive impact on U.S. trade policy this week.”
The steel and aluminum tariff discussions proved particularly wide-ranging. And as Greg Owens, CEO of Sherill Manufacturing and a CPA member, noted, “Trade and our decades-long deficits are a critical and complex issue. While I applaud the recent move to levy tariffs on steel and aluminum, the comprehensive answer must go beyond that. The overvalued dollar and tax policies are major contributors to the problem that must be addressed. CPA has detailed concrete solutions to these and other issues that I fully support. It was a privilege and an honor to help CPA introduce and develop these solutions on Capitol Hill this week.”
Brian O’Shaughnessy, CPA Vice Chairman, said, “Ten years ago, while lobbying during the CPA fly-in, we had to explain who we were and our position on trade. This year in Senator Schumer’s conference room, the leading Democratic Senator walks in the room and says, ‘I am totally with you guys on trade!’”
CPA will continue to urge action on America’s troubling trade deficit, and looks forward to expanding its relationship with Members of Congress who have pledged to fight for America’s manufacturers, farmers, and their workers.