In this week's address, the President reiterated that his top priority is to grow the American economy and ensure that every hardworking American has a fair shot at success, and the only way to do this is to give him the power to unilaterally agree to international agreements via Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).
OBAMA: Hi, everybody. My top priority as President is to grow the economy and help more hardworking Americans get ahead. And after the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes, our businesses have now created 12.6 million new jobs over the past 63 months.
That’s a record streak of job creation. And it’s come as we’ve been working to reform our schools, revitalize manufacturing and the auto industry, revamp our job training programs – and rework our health care system, covering more than 16 million uninsured Americans so far.
We’ve done all of this to rebuild our economy on a new foundation, a foundation for growth that benefits not only us, but our kids, and their kids. Because we do live in a new economy. And we’ve got to adapt to make sure America leads the way in this new century, just like we did in the last.
Part of that means sparking new sources of growth and job creation that keep us on the cutting edge. And one big way to do that is through smart new trade agreements that level the playing field for our workers, open new markets for our businesses, and hold other countries to the kinds of high standards that Americans are proud to hold ourselves to here at home.
Simply put, America has to write the rules of the 21st century economy in a way that benefits American workers. If we don’t, countries like China will write those rules in a way that benefits their workers.
Now, on Friday, Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives voted to help the United States negotiate new trade deals that are both free and fair – deals that expand opportunity for our workers and our businesses alike. And that’s good. These kinds of trade deals say no to a race for the bottom, for lower wages and working conditions. They’re about starting a race to the top, for higher wages, and better working conditions, stronger environmental protections, and a smarter way to crack down on countries that break the rules of the global economy.
But that’s not all we should be doing for our workers. Right now, something called Trade Adjustment Assistance provides vital support, like job-training and community college education, to tens of thousands of American workers each year who were hurt by past trade deals – the kind we’re not going to repeat again. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have voted to renew this initiative, but so far, the House of Representatives has chosen to let it expire in just a few months, leaving as many as 100,000 American workers on their own. For the sake of those workers, their families, and their communities, I urge those Members of Congress who voted against Trade Adjustment Assistance to reconsider, and stand up for American workers.
Because these smart new trade deals aren’t just about growing our economy and supporting good new American jobs. This is about the kind of country we want to build for our kids and our grandkids. And if I did not think that smart new trade deals were the right thing to do for working families, I wouldn’t be fighting for it.
This is the right thing to do. Trade that’s fair and free and smart will grow opportunity for our middle class. It will help us restore the dream we share, and make sure that every American who works hard has a chance to get ahead. That’s a cause worth fighting for – today, and every day I have the honor of serving as your President.