business & economy bills 2008

Bills in Brief

Congress kicked off its year working on an economic stimulus plan, but it could get to other business-related bills left hanging from '07 later in the year.

Housing: With everyone blaming the subprime market for turning the economy sour, Congress started last year looking for ways to keep foreclosures to a minimum while taming the subprime market from future excess. It didn't get far, but this year the pressure is on to wrap up a series of bills introduced last year - from expanding federal loans to making it harder for brokers to sign off on risky loans. See our "Housing Jitters" page for more.

Food and Oil Futures: with gas and food prices on heady upswings, Congress is moving to tame commodities' future markets, which some believe are helping to nudge prices up.

trade adjustment assistance

Free trade may or may not be good for America as a whole, but one thing's for sure - it hurts for some American workers whose jobs get shipped overseas.

The feds help out some of these workers by paying for job training and income insurance (for workers over 50 who find lower paying jobs, the feds will make up 50% of their paycut up to $10,000) when their factories close as a result of a free trade agreement.

The current trade adjustment assistance (TAA) law is running out (it just got extended to March) and Congress is likely to expand the law when it gets renewed. The House passed an updated bill, HR 3920, in November '07 and the Senate is working on its own. Some of the changes the House and Senate are considering include:

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business bills 2007

Bills in Brief

The new Democratic Congress continues to work on business issues that dogged last year's Congress - at the same time as giving a Democratic twist to new and old issues.


Bill in Brief

On July 28, 2005 the House squeezed by a yes vote - 217-215 - for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), sending the bill off for the president's signature (which he gave in August). Like NAFTA before it, the battle over the CAFTA pitted free traders - who say it will boost US and Central American economies - against anti-globalists and labor advocates - who argue the pact will hurt workers on both sides of the deal.

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What is the Doha round of trade talks?

Doha is the latest round of international trade talks led by the World Trade Organization. The name comes from the city where the WTO met in 2001 for its ninth round of talks and set its latest goals to open world markets. Since the start of the talks the WTO has met in Doha, Cancun, Geneva, Paris, and Hong Kong.

A brief WTO Timeline

1947 - 23 nations sign on to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt), a framework to encourage free trade.

1995 - The eighth round of GATT talks, in Uruguay, concludes and establishes the World Trade Organization (WTO).

2001 - WTO meets in Doha, Qatar and creates the Doha Development Agenda. This is the ninth round of trade talks and is intended to open world markets to agricultural, manufactured goods, and services.

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Trade is too huge of a topic for Joe to take on comprehensively. The problem is that the big issues -- free trade vs. protectionism and free trade vs. anti-globalization -- are just so, well, big. Below we set some context; how much we're trading, what we're taxing, who we're free trading with, etc.

Note from cJ editors: This page could use considerable work on "globalization" facts or, better yet, a separate "issue brief" on globalization. See our note to the right about helping out as a Joe Editor.

Key Terms

  • Globalization - Big concept. Refers to what many see as a fact: that the world is integrating on all levels -- communication, culture, and economics. Also refers to the policies and processes that hurry up globalization: free trade, technology, the exportation of Hollywood movies, etc.

  • Free trade - A big part of globalization; the flow of goods and services across countries without tariffs or other limits.

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