I am president of I Squared R Element, a local manufacturing company that I started in my garage in 1964. It now employs 85 people. I have managed millions of dollars of sales in all the industrialized nations of the world. I have donated over $5 million to the University at Buffalo, my alma mater, for scholarships for student engineers from Western New York. I want the next generation to have a shot at the success I have enjoyed.
I mention this not to brag, but to gain your confidence and trust so you will consider what I write.
Some of you may remember me as “Save Jobs Jack.” I ran for Congress (unsuccessfully) on the platform of “Save Jobs, Save Jobs, Save Jobs.”
I said then, as I do now, that for a country to create wealth it must grow, dig or manufacture. We have become a debtor nation because we have outsourced so much of our manufacturing capacity and jobs to other countries. The standard of living of our middle class has been declining. Our children no longer have the opportunity to earn a higher standard of living than their parents.
I said then, as I do now, that free trade agreements such as NAFTA are the cause of our problems.
These agreements eliminated the tariffs that defend American manufacturers and workers from subsidized foreign products. As a result, subsidized foreign products are destroying our industries and the jobs they provide.
We have a billion-dollar-a-day trade deficit. We run trade deficits with virtually every other nation in the world.
China, Mexico, Japan and other trading nations are taking advantage of us. They subsidize exports. They manipulate their currencies. They are cheating us.
But none of our presidents has ever retaliated against these violations of the free trade agreements. Why not?
Because these trade deals allow some giant corporations to make very high profits by importing foreign products, and Washington politicians rely on money from these companies to stay in office.
Free trade deals have been a disaster for working Americans, but others have benefited. Here’s who: Wall Street banks, Wall Street brokerage firms, retailers like Walmart that import products, multinational corporations with manufacturing plants in Asian countries that ship products into the United States and multinational corporations that buy parts and finished products (such as cars) overseas and import them.
These outfits and their Washington lobbyists contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to elect presidents and Congress members.
That’s why presidents, starting with Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and then Barack Obama, were all, or became, free traders.
In 1992, presidential candidate Ross Perot warned us about NAFTA, saying, “The great sucking sound you hear is jobs leaving.” Perot was a billionaire and could not be bought.
Clinton won and signed NAFTA.
It’s now clear: Perot was right; the jobs are gone.
When I ran for Congress, I was virtually alone when I said free trade deals are killing America and the future for working Americans. I am not alone anymore.
Donald Trump opposes Obama’s free trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Trump says he would put tariffs on products from Chinese, Japanese and South Korean companies that cheat.
Poll after poll shows white, working-class voters see Trump as the staunchest champion they have seen in American politics in decades.
Like Perot, Trump is a billionaire. He does not rely on Wall Street money to fund his campaign. He will not be bought.
I believe him. I hope you do, too.
Jack Davis is president of I Squared R Element, a manufacturing company in Akron.