Transcript: Thom Hartmann & Brian O'Shaughnessy: Free Trade is killing American jobs 2 August '11
Thom Hartmann: Welcome back, Thom Hartmann here with you. And on the line with us is Brian O’Shaughnessy. Brian O’Shaughnessy is the co-chair of the Coalition for a Prosperous America and the manufacturing co-chair and chairman of Revere Copper Products, Inc., TradeReform.org is his website. And Brian welcome to the program.
Brian O’Shaughnessy: Yeah, thank you Thom, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Thom Hartmann: Thank you. Lay out your thesis for us please.
Brian O’Shaughnessy: We’re focused on trade. And we’re a coalition of domestic manufacturing companies, organized labors, farmers and ranchers. We’re non-partisan and we’re very concerned about the impact of our international trading practices because, I say practices because we don’t have a policy, but those practices and the impact they have on the U.S. economy and jobs.
Thom Hartmann: Well we did have a policy from 1791 when Hamilton put it in place until the 1980s. It has pretty my disintegrated since then. And you know a large part of that was the average tariff in the United States from 1791 until the 1980s was in the high 20s, and now it’s around 2%. Do you have specific policy recommendations that you’re calling for?
Brian O’Shaughnessy: Well as an example we want to take immediate action to offset China’s manipulation of its currency which has an impact of 40%. It’s like a 40% tariff on anything that would be shipped into China or a 40% subsidy on anything coming out of China. So that’s a big impact because China is our biggest trading partner and the one which we have the biggest negative trading numbers with. And their practice of manipulating currency affects all of Asia. Beyond that we also feel that the Value Added Tax, property employed as other countries do, as a tariff against imports and yet…
Thom Hartmann: Yeah. Well that’s basically what Germany does to us. I mean they have a VAT tax and by basically reversing it on exports they’re subsidizing their exports.
Brian O’Shaughnessy: Exactly. Their VAT tax has gone up to 19%. And in fact many of these countries that we negotiate free trade agreement with, as soon as we negotiate a trade agreement with them then they increase their VAT taxes to offset the tariffs that they dropped, meanwhile we’ve dropped our tariffs….
Thom Hartmann: Right. And we’re standing here naked.
Brian O’Shaughnessy: Exactly.
Thom Hartmann: Yeah, looking for a barrel to wear ‘cause we’ve lost our clothes. We’re talking with Brian O’Shaughnessy, the website is TradeReform.org, the Coalition for Prosperous America. I get it how American manufacturers must be you know just insane about this. And as I’m sure you know it wasn’t always this way in America. In fact Tariffs paid for 100% of the cost of our federal government from the founding of this country until the Civil War. They paid for 2/3 of the cost of the federal government from the Civil War to World War I and they paid for fully 1/3 of the cost of federal government from World War I to World War II. And now it’s down to the point where you know they’re barely a percentage of the federal government’s income.
Brian O’Shaughnessy: Yes. And indeed during that period from 1850 up until about 1930 when our tariffs ran about 30% the government of Great Britain which had the world leading economy, they adopted free trade. And as they adopted free trade it was so beneficial to us and that’s the period of time when our economy soared past their economy when our economy was working behind a 30% tariff and the British were dropping theirs, and dropping their jobs.
Thom Hartmann: Yes and I believe it was, wasn’t in the 19-teens or early 1920s when the British Pound ceased to be the world’s reserve currency and basically the Pound collapsed?
Brian O’Shaughnessy: Right. And see that all, the impetus on that really began in the 1850s when they adopted free trade policies because they thought that was what was, that was what was good. They believed in it. But it wasn’t good for the common man in England. It was good for the ruling class. Just as today our policies on free trade are disastrous to the middle class in America. They help those who work on Wall Street and our politicians in Washington who benefit from the contributions of the Wall Street mass and multinationals.
Thom Hartmann: Right. And the oligarchs who run the multinationals. I mean basically we have oligarchs now in this country. We have corporations spinning off so much money that they are actually able to compensate their CEOs in the hundreds of millions per year and turn them into billionaires.
Brian O’Shaughnessy: That’s not domestic companies like mine, because we are fighting imports and fighting these policies and trying to get them changed. And here’s the problem, Thom. These policies, whether you’re looking at Bush Sr. or Clinton, Bush Jr. or President Obama, are the same on trade. This is an opportunity, right now, today, for the democratic leadership to go back to its roots and work to support anything produced, grown or served in the United States. That’s what every other country does. Do you know when my country competes, we don’t compete globally with others companies in foreign countries. We compete with other nations. That’s the difference.
Thom Hartmann: Hm. Yeah. And it’s an important one. Your company being Revere Copper Products.
Brian O’Shaughnessy: Founded in 1801 by Paul Revere, we think we’re the oldest manufacturing company in America.
Thom Hartmann: Wow.
Brian O’Shaughnessy: After I did the leverage buy out I gave 25% of the stock away to the people who work here and so we’re employee owned and we’re dedicated and we’re dedicated to growing America and growing jobs in America and supplying America, just like Paul Revere did when he founded this company.
Thom Hartmann: That’s remarkable.
Brian O’Shaughnessy: The U.S. navy loaned Paul Revere ten thousand dollars in 1801 and they wanted him to build the first copper rolling mill in America because they anticipated a second war with the British. And the British supplied copper sheets that were used to sheath the U.S.S. Constitution. And they knew they couldn’t get it in war time. And they needed a domestic source. So they funded the founding of the oldest brass mill in America and the oldest company still going in North America with a loan from the U.S. navy, in anticipation of a war that occurred ten years, or eleven years, after they made the loan.
Thom Hartmann: Right the war of 1812.
Brian O’Shaughnessy: The war of 1812.
Thom Hartmann: That’s amazing, that’s amazing. And that’s your company, is the oldest manufacturing company in America. How can people support America. You know, you go into a store and you say I’d like to buy American and you look around and there’s nothing, right? How can people support American manufacturing? I keep saying we need to support politicians that support manufacturing.
Brian O’Shaughnessy: We really have to do it at the polls. We have to elect representatives whether they’re democrat or republican or independent who will support jobs in American. And not just talk about it because you know the old, what we see today, is so many crocodile tears. You know, people are getting, politicians receiving huge campaign donations from Wall Street, from both parties, and the leadership of both parties, the people who run committees, the people who are on the Ways and Means committee. Do you know if you’re elected to congress you can’t get on the Ways and Means committee right away. Now matter how good you might be. You have to be in congress for a term or two so they can see how you vote on trade. And if you vote the right way on trade, then you get on the Ways and Means committee.
Thom Hartmann: Ouch.
Brian O’Shaughnessy: Yes, it’s the leadership. And both parties do that.
Thom Hartmann: No, and I’ve been saying for a long, long time that whichever party is the first part to adopt a protectionist trade policy, and I’ll use that word, I know Washington thinks it’s a dirty word, but the first party that adopts that is the party that is going to start winning elections like nobodies business. Donald Trump came out and said 25% tariff on China and all of a sudden he was the leading republican contender for the presidency and then he goes wackadoodle on birther stuff, you know, and it fell apart. But that’s the potency of trade as an issue.
Brian O’Shaughnessy, he’s the co-chair of the Coalition for Prosperous America and Revere Copper Products, TradeReform.org. Thank you Brian.
Brian O’Shaughnessy: Thank you Thom.
Thom Hartmann: Good luck.
Transcribed by Suzanne Roberts, Portland Psychology Clinic.