The economy continues to tank with Caterpillar announcing more layoffs today.
In response to deteriorating business conditions, Caterpillar Inc., the world's largest maker of mining and construction equipment, disclosed nearly 20,000 job cuts, most of which already have been made. They include 5,000 new layoffs of white collar workers, which will occur globally by the end of March.
Earlier actions included the elimination of 2,500 Caterpillar workers through a buyout offer announced in December, the termination of about 8,000 contract and temp agency workers, and the reduction of 4,000 full-time factory workers through firings and buyouts.
How would one fix this?
Maybe by signing the Colombia Free Trade Agreement that Democrats hate so.
Exports by companies such as GE and Caterpillar create U.S. jobs and show why President-Elect Barack Obama and Congress shouldn't put restraints on trade, said Doug Oberhelman, a Caterpillar group president.
"Why are we seeing this rush to protectionism when we're talking about creating American jobs?'' Oberhelman, who oversees Caterpillar's global engine business as well as human services, sustainable development and remanufacturing, said in an Oct. 28 interview.
GE gets more than half of its sales from overseas as the world's biggest maker of power-plant turbines, jet engines and medical-imaging equipment. Caterpillar, the largest maker of backhoes and excavators, exports half the machines built in some U.S. plants.
Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Ill., supports a proposed free-trade agreement with Colombia, which Oberhelman said unfairly imposes tariffs on U.S.-made goods entering the country.
"They're already exporting everything free, and we have to pay to export there,'' he said.
Some of these jobs could certainly be restored if the Democrats would simply pass the free trade agreement. Unfortunately, they probably won't. Will the press question Obama on his refusal to bring up the trade pact?
Don't hold your breath.