Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from www.nytimes.com
International trade typically produces winners and losers. Consumers benefit when they pay less for imported goods than similar domestic products. Some American workers are clearly hurt when foreign competition leads factories to shut down or move overseas. That’s why economists have long argued that government should help those displaced by the dynamics of freer trade.
But to hear some Republicans tell it, trade only produces winners. Even as President Obama and Congress vigorously debate major trade agreements with Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America, these legislators are trying to cut back on the few benefits that the government provides to workers hurt by foreign competition.
A longstanding program known as Trade Adjustment Assistance gives displaced workers training for new jobs, extended unemployment benefits, reimbursement for relocation expenses and so on. But the program is quite modest, helping just 84,529 people in the 2013 fiscal year, and less than half of those people received any training.
Congress made it harder for workers to qualify for T.A.A. last year. It is now available only to manufacturing workers; people laid off from service businesses like call centers cannot get help. And it assists only people affected by trade with a country that has a trade agreement with the United…