Cory Booker on Free Trade

Mayor of Newark; N.J. Senator; 2020 presidential contender (withdrawn)


Labor & environment should be at center of every trade deal

Everything that I do will be done through a green lens in the urgency of climate change. So every lever that I have on foreign policy-- Number one, I see our president meeting with world leaders. I mean, he meets with Putin and won't even bring up the fact that he's attacking our elections right now but that soft power you can make it a priority [with] everybody you talk with. You have billion of dollars of foreign aid going to countries all around this planet that should be contingent on doing things on climate. You have your trade deals: labor and climate should be the center of any trade deal we do right now. You have alliances as well.
Source: CNN Climate Crisis Town Hall marathon (10 Democrats) , Sep 4, 2019

No fast-track trade authority for Trans-Pacific Partnership

Booker has said little recently about President Donald Trump's re-negotiation of trade deals with Canada and Mexico, but he once said such agreements need to be "much more fair to U.S. companies." He opposed giving the Obama administration fast-track trade authority during early negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls , Feb 1, 2019

Deal with China despite their cheating

BROKEN PROMISE: : Booker said on his Senate campaign website, "China's cheating--through artificially depressing its currency and other unfair trade practices--is so damaging to American workers." But in the Senate, Booker called on Vice President Joe Biden to help settle a trade dispute between the U.S. and China over solar equipment, rather than continue anti-dumping investigations and tariffs. Booker talked tough on China during the campaign, but caved in when it came to actually negotiating a deal. We label this an "evolution" where Booker accepted that dealing with China gave more leverage than pressuring China from a stand-off position.

ANALYSIS: Comparing the two contrasting statements, Booker is in effect saying "China cheats--but let's deal with them anyway." Booker's campaign statements support "fair trade" - rewriting the rules--whereas his actions support "free trade"--making SOME sort of deal despite whatever problems come up.

Source: Cory Booker 'Promises Broken,' by Jesse Gordon, p.129 , Apr 1, 2017

Promote exports, but restrict multilateral trade deals

BROKEN PROMISE: : The Newark Star Ledger reported, "Booker voted against giving Obama the ability to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership." But Booker voted to provide an additional $25 billion for the Export-Import Bank, to finance U.S. exports. Booker opposes multilateral trade deals, but supports export promotion--he is technically FOR free trade on the export side, but AGAINST free trade on the import side.

ANALYSIS: Booker's pro-export anti-import policy actually has a name--"neomercantilism"--which differentiates Booker from "protectionism." Protectionists believe in limiting all trade (in both directions); mercantilists believe in limiting imports but favoring exports. That's in line with Booker's pro-corporate outlook: mercantilism helps American corporations at the expense of foreign corporations (and at the expense of consumers). Both protectionists and mercantilists call themselves "fair traders" but they differ in this key aspect.

Source: Cory Booker 'Promises Broken,' by Jesse Gordon, p.130 , Apr 1, 2017

No fast-track for Trans-Pacific Partnership

Booker broke with President Obama and voted against giving him new authority to negotiate trade legislation. Booker voted against giving Obama the ability to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership and bring it back to Congress for an up-or-down vote without amendments, a process known as fast-track. The bill passed 62-37, with just 14 Democrats supporting it.

Booker, given the choice of supporting the president or his progressive allies, joined most Senate Democrats in voting no. "Our trade policy must balance the need to increase exports and expand commerce with provisions that empower American workers," Booker said in a statement. "This legislation did not provide enough assurance that a deal reached under its terms would achieve that balance."

The Trans-Pacific Partnership would lower trade barriers among the U.S. and 12 nations, including Canada, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand and Vietnam. The Obama administration has touted it as a way to grow the U.S. economy and create jobs

Source: Newark Star Ledger, "Booker opposes Obama's trade bill" , May 23, 2015

African trade makes stable countries & good for our security

Expanding the economic pie means creating strong ties with these developing nations. Rather than making these countries dependent on long-term foreign aid, we should focus on increasing trade with them. For example, in countries that don't have legacy landline telephones, as we do in America, there are opportunities to invest in mobile data technology--creating jobs here and there. This "trade, not aid" approach means new markets for American goods, self-sufficient countries that benefit from investment and a world economy that's expanding.

Stronger, more stable African countries are also good for our security. Some parts of Africa, like Mali and Somalia, have had significant problems with extremist groups. Extremists have a much harder time gaining a foothold and recruiting when a countries people are making money, putting food on the table, and being supported by an effective government.

Source: 2013-2014 New Jersey Senate campaign web CoryBooker.com , Nov 3, 2013

China cheats via currency manipulation & IP theft

As China expands its economy, grows its military, and competes on the world stage, it is essential for them to play by the rules. Thankfully, China needs us--and there are countless areas where our countries cooperate to advance shared priorities.

American workers can compete and win on a level playing field, which is why China's cheating--through artificially depressing its currency and other unfair trade practices--is so damaging. While currency appreciation has occurred, keeping it artificially low hurts our economic competitiveness and undermines the trust that is essential to a strong relationship. That doesn't mean we should start a trade war--that would hurt our economy just as much as it would hurt China's. Instead, our goal should be a level playing field that treats everyone fairly, and that includes cracking down on unfair practices, such as unreasonable market barriers and Intellectual Property theft, that often break China's commitments to us and the rest of the world.

Source: 2013-2014 New Jersey Senate campaign web CoryBooker.com , Nov 3, 2013

China is engaging in unfair trade practices

[All four Democratic candidates] showed few differences in how the US should approach its relationship with China, saying that its economic rise is a good thing but that it is engaging in unfair trade practices.
Source: Star-Ledger coverage of 2013 N.J. Senate debate , Aug 5, 2013

Declare Turkish rebar subject to anti-dumping duties.

Booker signed declaring Turkish rebar subject to anti-dumping duties

Excerpts from Letter from 31 Senators to the Secretary of Commerce: We write to you regarding countervailing duty and antidumping investigations being conducted by the Department of Commerce on imports of steel reinforcing bar (rebar) from Turkey and Mexico.

Rebar is one of the largest volume steel products produced in the US, employing more than 10,000 workers in over 30 states. With nearly 7 million tons of domestic production, a healthy rebar industry is critical to a strong economy. However, it is our understanding that imports from Turkey and Mexico are surging into the US, nearly doubling from 2011 to 2013.

The ITC recently found that Mexican and Turkish rebar producers are consistently underselling US producers, resulting in substantial lost sales and depressed; [plus] a preliminary finding that the Government of Turkey bestows energy subsidies to its rebar industry, but that such subsidies are only de minimis in value. This seems surprising given the inherently energy-intensive nature of steel production.

Opposing argument: (Heritage Foundation, "Guide to Antidumping Laws", July 21, 1992) One of the pillars of the "fair trade" approach is a set of so-called antidumping and countervailing duty laws. Antidumping laws seek to prevent products manufactured overseas from being sold by foreign firms in the U.S. at "less than fair value." Countervailing duties seek to offset subsidies provided by foreign governments by imposing duties at the U.S. border.

The antidumping laws are confusing and arbitrary, and in many instances merely allow American firms to secure punitive tariffs against competing importers where no unfair trade practices are involved. Worse, these laws drive up the costs of imported components used by other American enterprises, making their products less competitive in world markets. As a result, American consumers pay higher prices for both imported and domestically produced goods.

Source: Turkish Rebar Letter 14LTR-BAR on Apr 9, 2014

Fight Chinese predatory trade practices on car tires.

Booker signed fighting Chinese predatory trade practices on car tires

Excerpts from Letter from 31 Senators to the Secretary of Commerce: We are writing in strong support of the Department's decision to initiate antidumping and countervailing duty investigations of passenger vehicle and light truck tires from China.

China has targeted the tire sector for development and there are several hundred tire manufacturing facilities now operating in that country. In 2009, the United Steelworkers (USW) sought relief from a flood of similar tires from China that were injuring our producers and their workers.

Unfortunately, shortly after relief expired in 2012, imports of these tires from China once again skyrocketed. In June 2014, the USW alleged dumping and subsidies, identifying dumping margins as high as 87%. Our laws need to be fairly and faithfully enforced to ensure that workers can be confident that, when they work hard and play by the rules, their government will stand by their side to fight foreign predatory trade practices.

America's laws against unfair trade are a critical underpinning of our economic policies and economic prosperity. Given the chance, American workers can out-compete anyone. But, in the face of China's continual targeting of our manufacturing base, we need to enforce our laws.

Opposing argument: (Cato Institute, "Burning Rubber", Sept. 11, 2009) USW and the unions feel that they have earned the president's support. The president is presumed to owe Big Labor for his election last November. Will the president do what is overwhelmingly in the best interest of the country? Or will he do what he thinks is best for himself politically? The president should reject the recommendations of the USITC and deny import restrictions altogether. A decision to reject trade restraints in the tires case would be reassuring to a world that is struggling to grow out of recession. The costs of any protectionism under these circumstances could unleash a protectionist backlash in the US an

Source: Car Tire Letter 14LTR-USW on Sep 16, 2014

Voted FOR reauthorizing Ex-Im Bank.

Booker voted NAY Export-Import Bank Reform and Reauthorization Act

Heritage Action summary of vote# S206: The Senate voted to table (kill) an amendment by Sen. Kirk to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. Sen. Kirk recommends voting NO. Heritage Foundation recommends voting YES because the "Ex-Im Bank is little more than a $140 billion slush fund for corporate welfare."

OnTheIssues explanation: Voting NO would allow a vote on reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank. Voting YES would kill the bill for reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank.

Sierra Club reason for conditionally voting NO (from previous bill S.819):Sen. Shaheen's bill S.824 reauthorizes the Ex-Im Bank without undermining Obama's Climate Action Plan. The Sierra Club supports the bill because it makes both financial and environmental sense for the US and all of its taxpayer-backed financial institutions--including Ex-Im--to stop investing in dirty and dangerous fossil fuels like coal.

Cato Institute reason for voting YES to kill the bill:The Ex-Im Bank's reauthorization buffs contend that Ex-Im fills a void left by private sector lenders unwilling to provide financing for certain transactions. Ex-Im's critics [say that] by effectively superseding risk-based decision-making with the choices of a handful of bureaucrats pursuing political objectives, Ex-Im risks taxpayer dollars. It turns out that for nearly every Ex-Im financing authorization that might advance the fortunes of a single US company, there is at least one US industry whose firms are put at a competitive disadvantage. These are the unseen consequences of Ex-Im's mission.

Source: Supreme Court case 15-S0995 argued on Oct 19, 2015

$25B more loans from Export-Import Bank.

Booker co-sponsored H.R.1031 & S.824

This bill raises the cap on outstanding loans, guarantees, and insurance of the Export-Import Bank of the United States for FY2015-FY2022 and afterwards. The Bank shall:

Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (Washington Examiner, 12/2/12): The Export-Import Bank is a taxpayer-backed agency that finances U.S. exports, primarily though loan guarantees. You'd think the bank would spread the money around to nurture up-and-coming businesses. You'd be wrong, very wrong. In fact, 83% of its taxpayer-backed loan guarantees in 2012 went to just one exporter: Boeing. Welcome to the "New Economic Patriotism," where the big get bigger and taxpayers bear the risk. Ex-Im is at the heart of Obama's National Export Initiative and is a pillar of the economic patriotism that Obama pledged in a second term. When government hands out more money, the guys with the best lobbyists and the closest ties to power will disproportionately get their hands on that money. Obama has spent four years pushing more subsidies, more bailouts and more regulations. "New Economic Patriotism" basically amounts to a national industrial policy -- Washington championing certain major domestic companies and industries, as if the global economy were an Olympic competition.

Source: Promoting U.S. Jobs Through Exports Act 15-S824 on Mar 19, 2015

Other candidates on Free Trade: Cory Booker on other issues:
2020 Presidential Democratic Primary Candidates:
V.P.Joe Biden (D-DE)
Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I-NYC)
Gov.Steve Bullock (D-MT)
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Sen.Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Gov.Deval Patrick (D-MA)
Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Sen.Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

2020 GOP and Independent Candidates:
Rep.Justin Amash (Libertarian-MI)
CEO Don Blankenship (C-WV)
Gov.Lincoln Chafee (L-RI)
Howie Hawkins (Green-NY)
Gov.Larry Hogan (R-MD)
Gov.John Kasich (R-OH)
V.P.Mike Pence (R-IN)
Gov.Mark Sanford (R-SC)
CEO Howard Schultz (I-WA)
Pres.Donald Trump (R-NY)
Gov.Jesse Ventura (I-MN)
V.C.Arvin Vohra (Libertarian-MD)
Rep.Joe Walsh (R-IL)
Gov.Bill Weld (L-NY,R-MA)
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External Links about Cory Booker:

2020 Withdrawn Democratic Candidates:
State Rep.Stacey Abrams (D-GA)
Sen.Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Sen.Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Secy.Julian Castro (D-TX)
Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC)
Rep.John Delaney (D-MD)
Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen.Mike Gravel (D-AK)
Sen.Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Gov.John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
Gov.Jay Inslee (D-WA)
Mayor Wayne Messam (D-FL)
Rep.Seth Moulton (D-MA)
Rep.Beto O`Rourke (D-TX)
Rep.Tim Ryan (D-CA)
Adm.Joe Sestak (D-PA)
CEO Tom Steyer (D-CA)
Rep.Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
Marianne Williamson (D-CA)
CEO Andrew Yang (D-NY)

Page last updated: Feb 23, 2020