As one of the largest manufacturing states in the country, Ohio has a lot to lose and a great deal to gain from U.S. trade policies — including new free trade agreements. That is why we must address our federal trade deficit, crack down on Chinese currency manipulation, and support worker retraining for Americans who lose their jobs due to unfair foreign trade.
Three new trade agreements — with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama — are currently moving through Congress with renewed promises of job creation. But Ohioans know that these empty promises often result in empty wallets.
We have already seen what free trade agreements do to Ohio jobs. The record is dismal at best.
In 2010, the United States’ total trade deficit was $634.9 billion. For the entire year, our trade deficit with China was nearly $273.1 billion, an increase of nearly 300 percent over our trade deficit with China in 1999.
And we know that trade deficits cause job loss. In fiscal year 2010 alone, more than 227,000 U.S. workers were certified to participate in the program that helps workers retrain for new jobs because they lost their old jobs due to unfair foreign trade. Given the results of trade agreements, it should be no surprise that Americans are cynical about the effect trade agreements have on American job creation.
In fact, studies show that the U.S. economy could have supported an estimated 7 million more manufacturing jobs if not for the massive trade deficit that has accrued under current U.S. trade policy.
I believe that before our government pursues more free trade agreements, we must focus on trade law enforcement and address foreign currency manipulation.
Too many Ohioans have lost their jobs due to lax trade law enforcement. Workers in Lorain and Youngstown were laid off because U.S. imports of seamless tubes and pipes from China flooded the domestic market — making it difficult for even industrious American workers to compete.
Coated paper — the material used for glossy magazine covers — is manufactured in Southwest Ohio and also imported from China and Indonesia. Because China lacks the raw materials to create coated paper, they have higher production costs than manufacturers in Butler and Montgomery counties. Then, Chinese companies must transport the finished product back to America for sale. Despite these facts, Chinese companies sell coated paper products in our country at drastically lower rates than U.S. manufacturers.
How is this possible? It’s clear that China manipulates the system by manipulating its currency — allowing Chinese manufacturers to export products that undercut American prices.
To fight back, U.S. workers petitioned the International Trade Commission (ITC) — where I testified on their behalf — to address the persistent problem of oversaturation of Chinese goods in the U.S. marketplace.
And we won.
When workers in other industries — like tires or oil steel tubes — filed similar ITC petitions, enforcement measures taken by the Obama administration led to the creation or retention of hundreds of jobs across our state.
New bipartisan legislation that I wrote along with Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) — the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act – would level the playing field for American manufacturing by directing the U.S. Department of Commerce to treat currency undervaluation as an unfair subsidy. That would allow our government to stand up for American workers and manufacturers by imposing countervailing duties on subsidized exports from countries like China.
As a member of the President’s Export Council, I will continue to urge our government to get serious about cracking down on illegal practices by our trading partners that undermine American manufacturing.
In addition to strong trade enforcement, we need to help American workers who have lost their jobs due to unfair foreign trade.
Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was passed in 1994, an estimated 40,000 Ohio workers have become eligible for federal retraining resources because they have lost their jobs due to U.S. trade policy.
Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) — the bipartisan program that for over half a century has helped a portion of American workers prepare for new jobs after a factory closes or scales back production due to unfair foreign trade — has been a lifeline for many Ohioans. In Hamilton County alone, more than 1,500 workers have been certified to receive the retraining support that TAA provides.
In 2009, Congress made important reforms to the Trade Adjustment Assistance program so that service workers and workers whose jobs have been moved offshore to countries like China — with which we don’t have a formal free trade agreement — could also receive assistance to train for new jobs. These reforms expired February 12 and need to be renewed before we pursue more free trade agreements.
That is why I recently introduced legislation that would extend TAA for five years. TAA has enjoyed strong bipartisan support in the past and support from the business community — which relies on our nation’s skilled workers.
We have an obligation to take care of American workers and American industry first. TAA does that.
Taking care of American workers should be our first priority. That means enforcing trade laws, cracking down on Chinese currency manipulation, and passing a long-term extension of Trade Adjustment Assistance. By making trade policy work for America, we can keep Ohio manufacturers competitive and ensure that our state’s workers have the training needed for the jobs of the 21st century.
It is no secret that Ohio has an employment problem. Our borders have long been hemorrhaging jobs as our state population shrinks and industry flees, taking employment opportunities to more business-friendly states. Unfortunately, this situation was irresponsibly ignored by the House Democrats in the previous General Assembly. However, in the new legislative session, we have had the chance to reverse this devastating trend that has sadly become the status quo in Ohio.
With this in mind, the Ohio House has been diligently working to include in the state budget proposal numerous measures aimed at bringing jobs back to Ohio and stimulating our sluggish economy. We need to make our state more attractive to prospective businesses so that they will have the incentive to relocate within our borders, bringing employment opportunities with them. As my colleagues and I work to resolve an $8 billion dollar budget gap left over from the Strickland administration, we are keeping our eyes peeled for new and innovative provisions we can add to revitalize our economy and strengthen our job market.
Job creation is a daunting undertaking, only feasible by taking a multilevel approach to the project. In the current state budget proposal, we have included a number of initiatives that confront multiple triggers causing Ohio’s job loss, population shrinkage and economic nosedive. For one, the budget will strengthen JobsOhio, the state’s new private non-profit entity aimed at addressing the concerns of businesses and getting Ohioans back to work. With a revenue stream for JobsOhio, it will be able to better meet its goals and boost our economy.
Another approach to job creation included in the budget proposal focuses on expanding our state’s employment base. Education is one of the most crucial factors in sustaining a healthy job market. On the individual level, achieving a degree in higher education opens many doors to Ohio’s youth, and on a larger scale, enticing high school graduates to stay in-state for college increases Ohio’s pool of educated workers. This is why the proposed budget contains a provision that will give in-state tuition rates at Ohio colleges and universities to students who come back within a set time frame of graduating from our high schools. By doing this, businesses will have more prospective employees to choose from, Ohio’s intuitions of higher education will prosper, and our young adults will be able to obtain more affordable college degrees.
Changing Ohio tax law can also improve our state’s population retention and job outlook. To this end, the current budget proposal will repeal the estate tax, which constitutes double taxation and hurts middle class homeowners, family businesses and farmers. Moreover, this immoral tax dissuades people and businesses from moving to Ohio and encourages current residents to leave permanently. House Republicans have taken it upon themselves to remove this impediment to economic development and individual prosperity starting in 2013. Families—not a greedy government—should collect their deceased relative’s hard-earned assets, and we intend to reverse this institutionalized injustice.
For too long, Ohio’s government was led by politicians who ignored the economic reality right under their noses. Since January, when the new Republican-led House first convened, we have made great strides to correct the ineptitude of the last administration, and this budget proposal will only further repair our state economy and job market. I am confident that these initiatives will contribute to Ohio’s economic sustainability and a higher employment rate for all of our citizens.
Last week, gasoline prices in Ohio fell by 32 cents right before the Memorial Day weekend. This was welcome news for Americans as they prepare for the upcoming driving season. The drop in prices, however welcome, isn’t enough. Americans, many of whom still experience financial hardship from the 2008 economic downturn, are not happy about paying nearly $4 per gallon at the pump.
Two years ago, gasoline cost $1.86 and now it averages $3.85. Americans would like to return to the era of a buck something.
Nevertheless, we are far away from those days.
Until we reduce gasoline costs to an affordable level, families will continue to cut back on their overall spending. According to a May Bank Rate survey, “nearly 2-to-1, Americans say soaring gas prices have led them to cut nonessential spending like dining out or taking vacations.”
Unfortunately, this sentiment will be the trend for the near future and Americans won’t see much relief at the pump.
The Energy Information Agency forecasts that gasoline averages from now until September 30 will be $3.81, up from $2.76 last summer.
Many factors and uncertainties contribute to the rise in gasoline prices; however, we can be certain of two issues, which will almost certainly contribute to the price of gas for the rest of the year: our weakened economy and growing global demand.
Oil is traded in U.S. dollars and the decline in the value of the dollar has inflated oil prices, making gasoline more expensive. A recent Joint Economic Committee report says “the dollar’s decline accounts for 56.5 cents of the $3.93 current price of gasoline.”
In order to lower bloated prices and have affordable gasoline, we need to reduce our deficit and strengthen our currency. If deficit reduction can be achieved, the Federal Reserve will stop printing the excess money that is hurting drivers at the pump.
In 2004, the world markets began to receive signals that emerging economies’, like China, heavy demand on oil would shrink available oil supplies. Between 2004 and 2008, the price per barrel of oil increased by 350 percent, from $30 per barrel to $135 a barrel. Over that same four years, China’s demand for oil increased by over 40 percent, from 5,578 to 7,817 thousand barrels per day, a major contributing factor to the unending increase in oil prices.
Skyrocketing demand, in combination with supply interruptions due to Hurricane Katrina and the turmoil in the Middle East — has caused prices to rise dramatically. Predictable outcomes like this can be avoided if Americans bring more refining capacity online.
Despite the global economic downturn, this explosion in consumption has showed no signs of stopping. In 2009, China became the world’s second-largest consumer of oil behind the United States.
If the United States doesn’t become self-reliant and as growing economies place greater demand on global oil markets, we will see even higher gas prices because of even more constrained oil supplies. Given this predictable outcome, the United States should embrace better access to Alaska’s oil resources by conducting annual lease sales and extending drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico that were negatively impacted by President Obama’s moratorium on offshore drilling. Earlier this month, the President suggested drill, baby drill, but his commitment to lowering prices is anemic, he has flipped flopped on this position twice during his presidency.
Soaring gas prices are the direct result of irresponsible energy and monetary policies. The American people are demanding action from Washington to move the economy by balancing the budget, reducing the deficit and using the national resources we have at our disposal.
Congressman Bob Latta (R-Ohio) sits on the Energy and Commerce committee.
To the Editor:
Dear Mayor and City Council of Van Wert:
As a citizen, concerned local businessperson, and taxpayer, I implore the Mayor, City Council, and City Auditor to take advantage of the “performance audits” program offered by Ohio’s Auditor of State Dave Yost.
This letter is not an accusation or indictment of mismanagement or misconduct of any kind by the City of Van Wert Mayor’s office, City Council, or any department within our local government. This letter is intended to persuade those in charge to embrace a tried and true self-improvement program for our local government.
In my own private businesses we have employed consultants at great expense, joined performance improvement groups, and followed analyses that benchmark our operations against peer groups. These practices are done to improve our performance and achieve our objectives, not because we like audits. We should hold our local government to the same standard.
Often politicians campaign saying they will run their departments based on sound business principles. Then, when in office the good intentions get lost. Here’s your chance to do as you’ve promised and as your constituents expect you to do.
I implore you to do the right thing and sign up for the “performance audits” immediately. As elected public servants your responsibilities include spending our tax dollars wisely. There is no doubt this program will give you new ideas and methods to accomplish these objectives. The use of this proven program will cement your reputations as visionary community leaders. Let’s not wait any longer to implement this innovative way to save money and increase efficiencies right here in Van Wert.
For further information look at this link online www.auditor.state.oh.us/services/performance
Thank you for your time and consideration. Now, do the right thing.
StateWide Ford Lincoln
To the Editor:
I am writing this letter to encourage the citizens of Van Wert County to come out and support the Council on Aging’s designer purse bingo. Proceeds from this fundraiser will go towards our fuel fund.
The cost of gas has really hit us hard because our vans only get about 8 or 9 miles a gallon. We are hoping to raise $5,000 and if everyone would support us, I am sure that we could reach our goal.
Our vans transport senior citizens, Monday through Friday, to medical appointments, grocery stores, banks, etc. We also transport senior citizens within a 50-mile radius of Van Wert for medical appointments. Many people are unaware that we are not a county agency and we receive no funding from the county. The only funding that we receive is from a county-wide tax levy. This levy allows our agency to operate despite the 100 percent cut from the state and federal government.
The businesses have been very generous in sponsoring a purse or donating a door prize and we are very thankful for their support. We have already sold many tickets but we still have some left.
Our designer purse bingo will be held on Friday evening, June 17. The doors will open at 4:30 p.m. and the early bird game will begin at 6 p.m. at a cost of $5. Tickets for the other 20 games are on sale now at a cost of $15. After June 10, the cost will be $20 if there are any tickets left. The prize for each regular bingo game will be an authentic designer handbag and will include Coach, Michael Kors, Kathy Van Zeeland, Dooney & Burke, and B. Makowsky. We will also have several raffles, including one for a Coach purse and one for a set of KAM Manufacturing bags. Concessions will be available and door prizes will be awarded.
Please consider helping the senior citizens of Van Wert County by supporting this very worthwhile fundraiser.
Council on Aging staff member
To the Editor:
To the citizens of Van Wert:
You have no doubt heard of the website named Topix.com. This website is basically being used by local people to slander other local people anonymously and has been causing a huge uproar in our community. If you have heard of the website then you will also probably know that I am on there a lot myself typically posting in defense of myself and friends and family. Here recently there has been an influx of teenagers posting about one another on the forums as well. I fear that eventually someone is going to hurt themselves because of something said about them on this website.
After doing a bit of research on the website I have learned that Topix is available in almost every city in the United States and that almost every city has this same type of problem with people attacking one another on the public forums because of the option Topix gives people to remain anonymous. I have read case after case of suicides, both teens and adults, directly due to Topix.com abuse, bullying, and harassment. After having a personal close friend come very close to becoming another Topix suicide statistic I have decided to begin a non-profit grassroots campaign/petition named “Petition To End Or Reform Topix”. At the bottom of this letter I am including a link to go and read the petition as well as sign it and join our cause if you so wish. Please remember that this is not about if we are personal friends, enemies, or have never met. This is about our community as a whole and putting a stop to this website which everyone agrees is a negative thing in our community.
Also please remember that this is a grassroots movement. The ONLY way that this will have any effect is if we get a lot of signatures. If we do then change.org will forward everything to our state and local officials. The only way we are going to meet the goal for 1,000 signatures is if this petition spreads as much as possible. Please copy the link and email it to all your friends and family. Post it to your Facebook or Twitter. Word of mouth is how this will move.
Again, thank you so much for your time in reading this letter and thank you in advance to those of you who are willing to help. Please click on the link provided below for more information on how you can help our cause and to read and sign the actual petition.
Johnny Murphy Jr.
To the Editor:
As I became aware of another “lack of funding” issue within the Van Wert City Schools, it seems that a request for supportive funding for the Family and Children First program by VWCS Board President Mike Morrow and VWCS Superintendent Ken Amstutz is all the effort that is being made to continue to keep the program within the auspices of VWCS.
The article on the Van Wert Independent website mentioned that money may be available from a “windfall” within the budget of the county Job & Family Services Department, so the VWCS representatives targeted that money. Of course, DJFS decided that they were going to go ahead and utilize that money towards their own community responsibility as match money for the Child Support Enforcement Agency. DJFS executive director Jim Beard said that a small bit of the windfall might be made available, but was strongly supported by County Commissioner Clair Dudgeon in his decision to use the money in-house, saving the county’s General Fund tens-of-thousands of dollars.
Now, here is where I start to scratch my head and start breathing a little harder, because I know that Mr. Morrow and Mr. Amstutz both know that their responsibility to run a tight fiscal ship at VWCS runs deeper than just asking for a handout from the analogous third cousin who just won the lottery. Not only did they receive a strong rebuke from DJFS, Morrow and Amstutz went on to state they believe that VWCS should continue to maintain the program, even though they have no funds to do so. What am I missing here? You want to keep the program but you admit you can’t afford it? What sense does that make? Further, how is that being responsible to Van Wert taxpayers as you successfully campaigned to continue a 1% tax behind statements that you would be responsible and not squander it as has been done in the past? Mr. Morrow was quoted as saying, “We cannot continue, in good conscience, to continue (sic) to use our resources to prop up a program that provides community services and be the only person in the pot paying these bills…” Morrow also made note that if the program were to be dropped by VWCS, the county commissioners would likely take it over, as it would likely become their legal responsibility. Mr. Morrow, if the VWCS cannot afford to ‘prop up’ this program, then go ahead and turn it over or just plain drop it. How hard is that decision? Your decisions need to be based fully on dollars and cents. Nothing else.
As I read and read again the statement about ‘using resources to prop up a program’ it angers me that it VWCS is spending money on ‘community services’ they have no business running in the first place because the board of education said that they ‘could not support providing money for the program indefinitely.’
Digest this folks and ask yourself how badly did the school system need that 1% income tax continuation if they are going to use it towards a program that could be turned over to another entity who apparently have a legal responsibility if the VWCS were to drop the program. How much has the district already spent on this program? What other programs are still being run in the red? What legitimate programs are being scaled back because the VWCS wants to support a program that does not conform to its budget? This school district administration needs to answer these questions. This administration also needs to learn that if they want to function with the best interest of the community in mind, they had better be more responsible, and more transparent in their fiscal ways because the people in Van Wert will not tolerate mismanagement of their hard-earned tax dollars.
I appreciate the effort by Dave Mosier, independent editor, for well-documented coverage of this issue. Mosier went on to cite in his article that other local government agencies were creative in their cost-cutting measures and still maintained their services to the community. Referring back to my opening statement, it seems the only stance that VWCS is taking is that they have to get money somewhere outside their own budget to address this issue, instead of looking deeper into the system to see where additional cuts can be made. More and more state and local government budgets around the country are leaner than at least one generation can remember. As a result, necessary cuts are being made to address certain crises. While I know that this board has made some cuts, evidently they have not cut deep enough or they would not be asking for a handout.
To the Editor:
In response to article “Latta Bill Opposes EPA Coal Ash Regulation”
Once again, a Republican describes an effort by the EPA to regulate a true and proven health hazard to be about economic growth: (In article of April 6, Latta noted. “In this economy, we cannot afford to lose any more jobs in Ohio or the United States. We need to get Washington out of the way of economic growth by tearing down barriers to energy independence and job creation.”)
In the past, EPA relied on the states to regulate coal ash. A catastrophic event in 2008 demonstrated that this was insufficient, and as a result led to the EPA making a decision that was different (that is, contradicted) its previous findings and decisions. That’s what happens when new information and data come to light! A coal ash spill in eastern Tennessee occurred when the earthen retaining wall of an ash pond at the Kingston Fossil Plant, west of Knoxville, failed. This sent a flood of ash overland – destroying homes, fouling land, and contaminating water. The contaminants of coal ash include heavy metals (such as arsenic, selenium, lead and, mercury) and other carcinogens.
These constituents are best regulated as hazardous waste. If the concentration of heavy metals and other carcinogens are lower than a certain amount, the coal ash will not be considered hazardous waste and will not require management as a hazardous waste. But, if the concentrations are higher than that threshold, the coal ash will be managed as hazardous waste. This protective management would be to the benefit of human health and the environment.
Anyone who saw the air above the Ford Rouge Plant in Michigan or breathed the air in that vicinity before regulation of emissions by EPA would realize that situations that damage human health and the environmental need to be curtailed or eliminated. The only way this happens is for the EPA to regulate the situation. At the Rouge Plant, it could be argued that this was not in the interest of economic growth, but certainly the benefit in human health, such as reduced medical problems and lives extended, had a value that outweighed the “economic growth” argument.
As for recycling, there are other instances where the material recycled contained hazardous components and should have been managed as hazardous waste. One infamous example is micronutrient fertilizer manufactured from industrial by-products. Another is the Marine Shale incident in which material that was hazardous waste was added to paving material. So, just because someone says they are recycling a material does not make that recycling beneficial.
So, Representative Latta, please allow the EPA to do its job and protect us and our air, land, and water. I don’t want to be among the taxpayers on the hook for cleanup of another coal ash spill. If other taxpayers support this view, please let Representative Latta know.
To the Editor:
In my last letter I wrote about the Van Wert commissioners about to hear, and vote on, the “retire and rehire” of the director of county Jobs, and Family Services, Jim Beard. This practice allows employees of the county to retire, draw full retirement from the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and rehire into the position they had been working at. So no new jobs are being created in our local government for our young people.
One good thing did come out of this meeting. Thad Lichtensteiger, the newest of the three commissioners, said that his constituents wanted jobs created and he voted “no” to the retire-rehire. It is so good that someone listens and votes as the people that put him in office ask.
Of course, Commissioners Gary Adams and Clair Dudgeon passed the retire-rehire. This is the first time it had been done by the commissioners in open meeting, setting legal precedence in place for all county employees in the future.
Mr. Adams, and Mr. Dudgeon just opened a big can of worms; any county employee that wants to retire-rehire can do so or the county has just committed discrimination. You can’t do just one.
Maybe when it comes time for us, we, the people, to vote on the retire-rehire of Gary Adams and Clair Dudgeon, we can let them know what we want is more jobs created to keep our young people of Van Wert County. In Van Wert County, not leaving the county or even the state to find work.
So Mr. Adams and Mr. Dudgeon, maybe it’s time for both of you to retire, and stay retired.
To the Editor:
“Thank you” from the Village of Wren.
As we welcome spring, we would like to say thank you to our cold weather warriors. Thank you to anyone who helped with snow removal in the village.
We are grateful to all fre and EMS volunteers. You answer our calls regardless of the hour or the temperature. Thanks to each of you!
Last, but certainly not least, thank you to the Wren Christmas Light Society. You make our village a temporary Winter Wonderland each holiday season. Your hours and hours of fundraising, planning and physical labor do not go un-noticed. You make Wren a holiday destination for young and old each year.
Thanks to all who contributed to the Wren fall and winter 2010-2011 in any positive way.
Village of Wren
To the Editor:
My husband and I would like to thank the Van Wert County Community Action Commission for helping us complete an application and qualify for the HEAP Program, the gentlemen who completed the work and Van Wert County JFS Director James Beard.
For a week there were between two and seven polite and well mannered men working both inside and out to winterize our home. They went out of their way to work as quietly as possible. They cleaned up any mess that was made, vacuumed and removed their trash. We wish to thank Travis, Isaac, Derek, Koby, Al, Jeremy and Adam. For all their hard work, pride and craftsmanship in their work, it hardly seems enough to just say thank you.
We are so pleased with their work. Our house was built in 1900. Our back door was not energy efficient so they installed a new one to our surprise. Our front door might as well have been left open, as there was such a draft we couldn’t even sit in the room. The men shimmed and sealed it and now it is so nice we can sit in the room without a blanket.
From assisting us with new appliances, including a water pump, carbon monoxide detector and bathroom ventilator to energy efficient light bulbs and a thermostat, the team did everything they could to assist in making our home affordable for the winter. We strongly encourage anyone struggling financially, like so many others and we are, to apply for the HEAP program. Call 419.238.4544 and complete the application.
Finally, we would truly like to thank their director, Jim Beard of Van Wert County Job and Family Services. Jim took the time to inspect his team’s work and was a very polite and courteous guest in our home. He made sure we knew there was no shame in getting assistance from this program. HEAP has been a tremendous help to us and we cannot say thank you enough.
Thank you and God bless,
Larry and Linda Collins
To the Editor:
Congressman Jim Jordan is leading the Republican Study Committee, which proposes to eliminate and/or significantly cut back on area programs for struggling families. What the proposal doesn’t show is the job loss and reduced spending to local businesses, which is a step backwards in terms of the revenue that businesses need to move forward.
In our company, state funding cuts eliminated 46 jobs in 2009; jobs that employed local citizens. But then with new early childhood federal funding 43 new jobs were created and others were saved. That’s a potential savings to the state unemployment fund of $367,000 over a year. That’s a good thing!
With that additional revenue received, $848,000 went back out to the local communities in the form of paying rent on space, utilities, fuel for vehicles, equipment and maintenance costs, food from local grocery stores, and taxes paid to our cities and schools. The even larger amount is the wages to those employees who locally spent an average of 95% of their paycheck back out to their communities for housing, transportation, food, taxes and clothing. Taking this revenue out of our local neighborhoods makes no sense. The effects go deep!
Besides eliminating all above funding, the rest of Jordan’s proposal plans for even deeper reductions of an additional 20 percent across-the-board cut on other programs for children, youth and older adults in our communities. This reduction slashes another 58 jobs and lessens revenues to our local businesses throughout our service area. Can our local communities suffer the loss of more even jobs and more spendable income to our businesses?
Please contact our local Congressmen Bob Latta and Jim Jordan, as well as House Speaker John Boehner to ask them how they are voting. Is it to keep the jobs that exist today and continue to financially support our community? Email the congressmen at https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml or call the local offices of the congressmen at: Bob Latta in Bowling Green at 419.354.8700, Jim Jordan in Lima at 419.999.6455, and John Boehner in Troy at 937.339.1524.
Shirley Hathaway, Executive Director
Council on Rural Service Programs