Dr. Boozman's Check-up

The lede from National Journal Daily’s (subscription required) front page story on Congressional approval of three trade agreements says it all:

The future of U.S exports moves to center stage now that Congress approved trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia and Panama—an achievement that lively will be Congress’s biggest on the trade front for years to come. (Emphasis mine)

Hundreds of thousands of jobs can be created if we take steps to increase our exports.  Approval of the Panama, South Korea and Colombia pacts is an excellent start and should make a strong positive long-term impact on our economy.  It is estimated that these three pacts alone could create over 250,000 here at home.

The National Journal Daily story continues:

Taken together, the three deals represent the largest free-trade agreement since Congress passed the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993. Overall, trade in goods with the three partner countries totaled more than $84 billion in the first seven months of 2011, according to the Census Bureau. The pacts will provide U.S. companies greater access to all three markets as soon as the deals enter into force later this year.

An earlier story from Bloomberg Businessweek highlights some of the economic benefits of each agreement:

The South Korea deal, the biggest since the North American Free Trade Agreement, would boost U.S. exports by as much as $10.9 billion in the first year in which it's in full effect, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission. The accord with Colombia would increase exports by as much as $1.1 billion a year. The South Korea and Panama pacts were signed in June 2007, while the Colombia accord was signed in November 2006.

At a more microcosmic-level, trade is vital to the economy of Arkansas.  Over 600,000 Arkansas jobs depend on exports.  Over 1,500 companies export from Arkansas, most of which are small to medium businesses.  In turn, our agriculture producers, businesses and manufacturers reinvest those dollars into our economy and communities.

The pacts were approved in a bipartisan manner.  Republicans and Democrats in both the House of Representatives and Senate cast their vote in support of these trade agreements.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise since we have repeatedly said this is one way to stimulate the economy where we find common-ground.

Unfortunately just one day earlier, our Chamber was bogged down in a political exercise.  Senate Majority Leader Reid brought up a bill he knew would fail and ensured that his caucus all voted in line with him.  That bill—his version of President Obama’s “Jobs Bill”—was destined to fall short of the votes to block a filibuster so he knew he didn’t need to worry about forcing members of his caucus to vote against the bill’s final passage, which many have said they would if it came up for a vote.  He went as far as taking powers away from the Minority last week and would not allow us to offer the bill as an amendment, just to protect the image of “unity” in his caucus.

The past two days should be looked at as a case study in how the Senate should operate.    

Here’s what Majority Leader Reid should take away from this lesson:  The Senate needs more days like Wednesday and less like Tuesday.