Rob Portman Gets Blasted for Free Trade Record

The Ohio Democratic Party, with an assist from labor leaders and fair trade advocates, began their assault Wednesday on Rob Portman, the leading U.S. Senate candidate in the Republican primary, highlighting his past support for job-killing free trade agreements, according to The Youngstown Business Journal Daily.

On a conference call derisively said to be a “celebration” of the five-year anniversary of Portman’s nomination to become George W. Bush’s U.S. Trade Representative, participants laid out the case against Portman, who will likely face off against Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher in the general election in November.
“George Bush chose him for a reason. His votes in the House betrayed Ohio workers time and time again,” Doug Sizemore, executive secretary-treasurer of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO, said, according to The Youngstown Business Journal Daily.

Indeed when President Bush plucked Portman out of the U.S. House of Representatives after a 12-year run in the lower chamber, he referred to Portman as “a great record as a champion of free and fair trade.”  His record backs up the “free part” at least.

As a member of the Ohio House delegation, Portman supported free trade pacts with Central America, Australia, Singapore and Chile.  He voted against withdrawing from the World Trade Organization and in favor of providing the president with even greater power to negotiate free trade agreements.  He steadfastly opposed extending aid to those displaced because of free trade policies.

According to Sizemore, Portman is also a supporter of the failed North American Free Trade Agreement, believing that it has created jobs.
“I can tell you there are 50,000 Ohio workers who would disagree with him on that,” Sizemore said, according to The Youngstown Business Journal Daily.

The Ohio Conference on Fair Trade said that during the Portman-era as U.S. Trade Rep., 17,000 Ohio jobs were outsourced while the trade deficit rose 6.5 percent.  Portman also allowed the U.S. trade deficit with China to swell to over $200 billion for the first time in history.

Participants also disputed Portman’s claim that he helped to create millions of jobs through his time in public service, a notion that seems almost laughable given his record on trade.
“Why do we have 35 out of 50 states that their unemployment funds are bankrupt?” Donnie Blatt, rapid response coordinator for the United Steel Workers of America, said, according to The Youngstown Business Journal Daily.  “I can only assume that those millions of jobs were created in China, Mexico and India.”

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