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From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.
The United States Senate recently passed a bill called Trade Promotion Authority. Under the measure, Congress can only vote for or against a trade agreement once it has been negotiated. This ability to “fast-track” such agreements could be important when Congress considers possible free trade deals with other countries.
The issue of free trade can fuel a debate about U.S. jobs. Many labor unions and Democratic Party members support a little-known federal program for American workers. It is called the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program. It provides financial assistance to those who lose their job because of increased foreign competition. Conservatives say the program is ineffective and costs too much. But, a former steel worker says the program works and should be expanded. Michael Smith worked at the Bethlehem Steel Mill in Sparrows Point, Maryland. The mill was once a major producer of steel. It employed as many as 30,000 people. But it closed in 2012 and Mr. Smith lost his job. He received training however through the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which helped him go back to school. Mr. Smith’s experience with the TAA was good. However, Dan Ikenson of the Cato Institute research group opposes the $400 million program. He says that for every job lost to trade, 30 jobs are lost for other reasons. Mr. Ikenson says trade creates more winners than losers. Instead of federal aid, he says, manufacturers should retrain displaced workers. In May, the Senate voted to extend the program as part of a fast-track bill to speed pending trade deals with Pacific countries.