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While standing up for Wisconsin’s unemployed workers, Rep. Ron Kind has come under increasing criticism from those on the left who say his support of new free-trade agreements will kill jobs.

On Friday, Kind circulated a memo to his fellow House members urging them to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership and legislation that would limit the role Congress plays in approving such free-trade agreements.

The progressive group Democracy for America on Wednesday sent an email asking members to bombard Kind with calls in hopes he will reconsider. Former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold's group, Progressives United, has also been active in the fight.

“As a member of his district I’m frustrated with Ron Kind because I’ve been a supporter in the past,” said Karli Wallace, an Eau Claire-based campaign organizer with DFA. “It’s a little embarrassing to me that he seems to wants to position himself as the fig leaf of bipartisanship that can help this skate through Congress somehow.”

Kind said jobs are going overseas with or without free trade agreements, and that global trade functions best with rules.

Opponents, including DFA and labor unions, say free trade agreements send American jobs oversees and drive down wages. Supporters point out that it lowers the cost of goods and opens new markets for exports.

Both are right, said Taggert Brooks, chairman of the economics department at UW-La Crosse.

“Economists will always point out that in almost all cases … freer trade results in higher average standards of living,” Brooks said. “That does not mean there aren’t winners and losers. It just means theoretically the winners could compensate the losers and make them whole and still come out ahead.”

But opponents also object to the fast-track process, noting Congress will be giving a simple up or down vote to a deal negotiated in secret.

“It’s actually a crippling of democracy,” said Bill Brockmiller, president of the Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO. “Whether or not you support the TPP, fast-track authority to a lot of people’s thinking is an archaic way of passing things and an offence to democracy.”

Kind said if the U.S. expects its Asian trading partners to make politically difficult concessions, they need confidence that any agreement won’t get hung up in Congress, with 535 members trying to sweeten it for their constituents.

All members of Congress have access to the terms, and labor representatives have a say, Kind said. “There’s a lot of transparency.”

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(8) comments

Near South Sider

Over 150 dems and 20 GOP in Congress have signed on opposing Fast Track dems Mark Pocan and Tammy Baldwin and GOPer Michele Bachmann. Talk about politics making strange bedfellows - but who supports this dang thing besides Ron? And the question I ask is why is Ron more interested in representing our trading partners than his constituents?

lookout

At breakfast with 10 others at a south side restaurant 8 of them voted for Kind. Everyone said Kind is hurting the workers of this country by doing this. He's big excuse is jobs are going to leave the US anyway. What's does KInd want to do, help fast track those jobs out. I most times thought Kind was for the working guy, but this shows he's not. Maybe he's getting some huge campaign contributions by selling out American workers. This is his last term in public office after this.

mooselodge

Ron Kind voted for banking deregulation/bank bailout, invasion of Iraq and NAFTA. Why does his position on TPP suprise anyone. He does as he is told. Why would he represent the people that voted for him. Ron is very well groomed though, so do not hurt his feelings.

Napoleon

Re: "free trade"

Free trade is freedom to repress low-wage workers and political dissidents in Red China.. it's second only to religion as a titanic scam!

"In 2012, the average American taxpayer making $50,000 per year paid just $36 towards the food stamps program. And when it comes to funding the rest of America's social safety net programs, the average American taxpayer making $50,000 a year pays just over six dollars a year. The average American family pays a staggering $6,000 a year in subsidies to Republican-friendly big business."

truth-out.org/opinion/item/19844-food-stamps-are-affordable-corporate-welfare-is-not

"World's 85 richest have same wealth as 3.5 billion poorest"

"The combined wealth of the world's richest 85 people is now equivalent to that owned by half of the world's population – or 3.5 billion of the poorest people – according to a new report from Oxfam."

www.nbcnews.com/business/worlds-85-richest-have-same-wealth-3-5-billion-poorest-2D11958883

RareBird

Sometimes you make sense (like now). Other times, I want to push you into traffic.

Choover

I'll admit I'm not too familiar with the particulars of this deal, but it should be noted that Ron Kind is a graduate of the London School of Economics. He isn't ill informed, even if Democrats don't support it.

Near South Sider

Economic theory says you make something where you can make it the cheapest. Problem with that theory is it lacks a social conscience. We ship athletic shoe production to Vietnam because the average wage is 75 cents an hour, so we can make shoes cheaper. Economic theory applauds. But who, besides the owners are better off? Wages the world over are lowered.

Gambrinus

It isn't just from the left. On the same day mentioned, the Vernon County Board passed a UNANIMOUS resolution in opposition to the TPP that Rep. Kind is peddling. This is unheard of. Local representatives of all political persuasions said. "enough". Yet, as far as I know, the Trib and other news sources have failed to report this event. From what I heard, the Vernon County Democratic party has opposed the TPP as well as Ken Van Doren a Republican challenging Ron Kind for his seat.

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