Open Letter from Former Democratic Governors Urges Support for Trade Promotion Authority

WASHINGTON, DC – Thirteen former governors released an open letter today urging their fellow Democrats to support giving President Obama trade promotion authority and enabling his Administration to completetrade agreements that would strengthen the U.S. economy. Released in collaboration with the Progressive Coalition for American Jobs, the letter specifically highlights the pivotal role that trade already plays in state and local economies -- and the positive impact that deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will have on thousands of good-paying jobs.

Fellow Democrats, 

e are writing to urge the speedy passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). This legislation will pave the way for President Obama’s pro-growth trade agenda and bring the benefits of new export opportunities and a level playing field to more Americans in each of our home states.

As former Governors, we’ve seen firsthand the benefits of trade to our communities. Increased exports have been a major component of economic development across all 50 states, adding $760 billion to our economy between 2009 and 2014—one-third of our total growth. And this growth has supported 1.8 million new jobs and raised wages (up to 18 percent on average) for real people that we’ve met—the manufacturing worker in Kentucky, the computer technician in Massachusetts, the dairy farmer in Wisconsin—whose jobs are related to exports.

We’ve also seen firsthand that there is untapped potential for continued growth in our communities because Made-in-America goods and services face unfair barriers in global markets. Automotive products from South Carolina are taxed at rates of up to 83 percent in some Asia-Pacific countries. Fresh and processed fruit from Washington and New Jersey faces taxes of up to 40 percent. And machinery from Kansas and Colorado is taxed up to 70 percent. 

By breaking down these and other barriers, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Tradeand Investment Partnership (T-TIP) will help American workers and businesses reach new potential and gain free access to two-thirds of the world’s economy. Moreover, these agreements will set enforceable rules of the road that will become the new global standard: fundamental labor rights, strong environmental provisions, robust intellectual property protections, and cutting-edge digital freedoms.

Trade Promotion Authority will allow Congress and the executive branch to work together to pursue these agreements. TPA has its roots in the Reciprocal Tariff Act of 1934, passed by the New Deal Congress and signed into law by FDR. Since then, every President besides Richard Nixon has had some form of tradenegotiating authority. And we think it’s time that President Obama has the authority he needs to bring home progressive trade agreements that not only unlock economic growth, but also uphold our values. 

As a group, we represent diverse states from coast to coast, but as Democrats, we’re all committed to policies that strengthen the middle class and promote U.S. leadership worldwide. When 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside U.S. borders, it’s clear that we cannot sit still. We’re confident that President Obama’s trade agenda will give Americans the opportunities they deserve to compete and win in today’s global economy. 

Phil Bredesen
Former Governor, Tennessee

Richard Celeste
Former Governor, Ohio

Jim Doyle
Former Governor, Wisconsin

Jim Florio
Former Governor, New Jersey

Christine Gregoire
Former Governor, Washington 

Jim Hodges
Former Governor, South Carolina

Gary Locke
Former Governor, Washington

Deval Patrick
Former Governor, Massachusetts

Paul Patton
Former Governor, Kentucky

Ed Rendell
Former Governor, Pennsylvania

Bill Ritter
Former Governor, Colorado

Roy Romer
Former Governor, Colorado

Kathleen Sebelius
Former Governor, Kansas

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The Progressive Coalition for American Jobs brings together progressives and Democrats committed to leveling the playing field for American workers and building a stronger economy for all of us. 

For more information, visit PCAJ.org.