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Liberty, Justice, And The Economy

The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. Kaptur) for 5 minutes.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk on two subjects: one, liberty and justice and, number two, our economy.

On the first, as cochair of the House Ukrainian Caucus, I stand today and join my voice to the citizens of the free world who stand in solidarity with freedom lovers in Ukraine seeking liberty and justice for all. It is with the deepest concern that we raise strenuous objection to the political decision by Ukraine's Pechersk court that sentenced former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to prison this October 11. The court's ``guilty'' verdict sentences her to 7 years in prison, bars her from holding office for 3 years, and effectively stops her from participating in Ukraine's upcoming elections.

Ukraine's actions should also call into question Ukraine's accession to the European Union. I join with the members of the Ukrainian Congress of America in supporting immediate congressional hearings on what has transpired in Ukraine. I urge our leadership to allow the passage of a resolution expressing U.S. objection to the actions of Ukraine's politically driven judicial system that seem to have more to do with politics than justice.

In furtherance of these objectives, I place on record on behalf of the Ukrainian Caucus the official statement of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, which represents over 1 million Americans of Ukrainian descent, equally incensed at what has occurred. From their statement, the Ukrainian Congress states:

They call upon the Government of the United States to take appropriate measures to support democracy and human rights in Ukraine. They urge the United States Government to restrict visas and freeze assets of the current antidemocratic regime and to hold congressional hearings on sanctions and future foreign assistance to the Government of Ukraine.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join me, to join our caucus; to speak out and to act then on behalf of the advance of democracy and justice in post-Soviet Ukraine.

I also wish to address today the U.S. economy. We've heard a lot about the trade agreements that are going to come before us today dealing with so-called ``free trade'' for South Korea, for Colombia and Panama. I wish to place some information on the record.

I've served in Congress awhile now, and fought against the NAFTA trade model back in the nineties when they said it would create jobs that would result in trade surpluses. Advocates promised we would have all this extraordinary economic growth and new jobs in the United States. Then after NAFTA was passed, we saw the beginning of these hemorrhaging trade deficits with Mexico, with Canada and, indeed, with the world. In 1997 and '98, when the China permanent normal trade relations, which I might add are anything but normal, kicked in, America went into an even greater trade deficit. Each billion dollars of trade deficit represented a loss of thousands upon thousands of lost jobs.

So, as we look at the period that we've been living through over the last 20 to 25 years as these so-called free trade agreements locked down, with every single one, America goes deeper and deeper into trade deficit, which kills the economic growth in our country. Now, today, we're being delivered three more: South Korea, Panama, and Colombia.

When we look back at CAFTA, which was passed in the early 2000s, what happened? Did we get trade balances with those countries? No. We got more U.S. job loss.

Sure, there were a few industries that made out like bandits. Okay. that's fine, I'm glad that some industries can export, and generally, agriculture is able to sell a little bit more, but the overal net is negative. The net is negative. That translates into lost jobs. We've lost over 7 million jobs in this country because these agreements are not fair trade agreements. They really don't result in trade balances for our country, nor job creation. They yield job losses--coast to coast.

Let's just take a look at what happened with Mexico alone. Back when NAFTA was passed, we had a trade surplus with Mexico. The same people who are arguing for these agreements today said, Don't worry about NAFTA--jobs are going to be even better. We said, No, no. It's not going to be better because there's not a real rule of law. There is no respect for the peasant class in Mexico, and the agricultural adjustment there is going to be horrendous.

In fact, it is at the basis of the exodus of Mexican farmers and peasants into our country. That is what is fueling illegal immigration--the lack of a resolution to what occurred during NAFTA when the agricultural adjustment was not allowed to occur in a humane way in Mexico. What a pity to go to the communities and to see how people are living there, disrupted from their land, and then in our country to see the jobs outsourced from the United States down there or from the United States to almost anywhere--China, et cetera--to the low-wage havens with no rule of law. Every year, the trade deficit with Mexico has grown greater and greater. Remember when we began with NAFTA, we had a trade surplus with Mexico. That has disappeared and gone very negative translating into lost jobs.

Now just take a look at Korea. They say this deal is going to make trade better. Well, do you believe that? We already have a trade deficit with Korea, and this agreement isn't going to solve it because Korea already sells over a half a million cars in this country, but we only sell a few thousand cars there now. This agreement will not change these numbers and will result in more lost jobs in our country. This agreement contains no requirement for reciprocity.

I ask the Members to vote ``no'' on the agreements dealing with Korea, Colombia, and Panama.

New York, NY.--The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, the representative organization of the over one million Americans of Ukrainian descent, is outraged and strongly condemns the Pechersk court's sentencing of Yulia Tymoshenko. The October 11th guilty verdict, which sentences the former prime minister to 7 years in prison, and bans her from holding office for three years, displays the selective and political motivations of the current regime and leaves no doubt that the court's decision was dictated by the government to remove one of the top opposition leaders from taking part in upcoming elections. From the start, the UCCA, along with the international community, deemed the various court proceedings to be biased, not meeting international standards and selective in persecution of opposition leaders and former government officials. Thus, today's guilty verdict not only demonstrates the ongoing anti-democratic and authoritarian tendencies of the regime, but also severely threatens the country's European aspirations, specifically the expected ratification of an association agreement with the European Union. President Yanukovych's use of criminal law to serve his own political end, must not be tolerated! The UCCA calls upon the government of the United States to take appropriate measures to support democracy and human rights in Ukraine. We urge the United States government to restrict visas and freeze assets of the current anti-democratic regime and to hold congressional hearings on sanctions and future foreign assistance to the government of Ukraine.