TPP in Focus: Rhetoric vs. Reality – The Truth about Trade Adjustment Assistance

This blog post is part of a series about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

RHETORIC:  The Senate Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill doubles funding for worker training from $220 million to $450 million.

REALITY:  The TAA program established by the Senate bill is the same program that Congress passed in 2011, with one important distinction – the 2011 program, which almost half of House Republicans voted for, funded worker training at $575 million. The bill being voted on by the Senate this week only funds worker training at $450 million, a 21% cut. Even the President’s FY2016 budget calls for $575 million in funding for the program. Due to Republicans allowing the 2011 TAA program to lapse, leaving service workers and others without coverage, current funding for working training is $220 million thus the misleading baseline that people are using to make their claim of doubling.

RHETORIC:  The Senate bill fully restores the TAA program.  

REALITY:  The bill does not fully restore the TAA program. In the Senate TAA bill:

  • Public sector workers will remain excluded, despite the fact that they were included in 2009 and 2010. 
  • TAA for Firms will remain underfunded with an authorization of $16 million, compared to $50 million in 2009 and 2010. 
  • TAA for Communities will remain excluded, despite being authorized at $40 million in 2009 and 2010, and appropriated at $500 million in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
  • The Health Care Tax Credit will be 72.5%, not 80% level as it was for 2009 and 2010.
  • The $450 million funding level for worker training in the Senate bill includes administrative expenses.  From 2002 through 2010, administrative expenses were appropriated separately.  As a result, in 2009 and 2010 total expenditures in support of training were $685 million.
  • The maximum duration of training will remain limited to 130 weeks.  In 2009-2010, it was a maximum of 156 weeks. 
  • The maximum reimbursement for job search and relocation expenses will remain limited to 90%, and will be left to the states’ discretion.  In 2009-2010, it was 100%, and mandatory (and is mandatory now).

RHETORIC:  TAA will have enough funding to cover everybody who qualifies.

REALITY:  The $450 million funding levels for training do not include any projected job loss due to TPP, a trade deal that includes 40% of the world’s economy. The President’s budget for FY 2016 sought funding of $575 million for worker training. At a time when trade is expanding and likely to expand further as a result of major trade agreements being negotiated, this TAA bill contracts funding for trade adjustment assistance.

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