Giant sucking sound

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The "giant sucking sound" was United States Presidential candidate Ross Perot's colorful phrase for what he believed would be the negative effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which he opposed.

First usage[edit]

In the second 1992 Presidential Debate, Ross Perot argued:

We have got to stop sending jobs overseas. It's pretty simple: If you're paying $12, $13, $14 an hour for factory workers and you can move your factory South of the border, pay a dollar an hour for labor,...have no health care—that's the most expensive single element in making a car— have no environmental controls, no pollution controls and no retirement, and you don't care about anything but making money, there will be a giant sucking sound going south.
    ...when [Mexico's] jobs come up from a dollar an hour to six dollars an hour, and ours go down to six dollars an hour, and then it's leveled again. But in the meantime, you've wrecked the country with these kinds of deals.


The phrase, which Perot coined during the 1992 U.S. presidential campaign, referred to the sound of U.S. jobs heading south for Mexico should the NAFTA, the proposed so-called free-trade agreement, go into effect.

Perot ultimately lost the election, and the winner, Bill Clinton, supported NAFTA, which went into effect on January 1, 1994.


The phrase has since come into general use to describe any situation involving loss of jobs, or fear of a loss of jobs, particularly by one nation to a rival. Examples include:

  • A European Union representative spoke of worrying "about the giant sucking sound from Eastern Europe;"[1]
  • Thomas Friedman opined that "the Mexicans... are hearing 'the giant sucking sound' in stereo these days—from China in one ear and India in the other.[2]
  • A columnist used the phrase "That Giant Sucking Sound" to introduce a comment about a 34% slump in employment in the U.S. airline industry.[3]
  • Congressman Steve LaTourette (R-OH 14) invoked the catchphrase while criticizing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: "Well, today there's another sucking sound going on in Washington, D.C. And that's the tightening of sphincters on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue as people are having to explain who put into the stimulus bill this provision of law."[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Landler, Mark (2004), "Hungary Eager and Uneasy Over New Status," The New York Times, March 5, 2004, Business, p. 1
  2. ^ Friedman, Thomas L (2004), "What's That Sound?," The New York Times, April 1, 2004, editorial section, p. 23
  3. ^ Sharkey, Joe (2005) "Memo Pad," The New York Times, June 28, 2005, Business section, p. 8: "THAT GIANT SUCKING SOUND—In a stark reminder of the harsh personal toll of the airline industry's slump, the government released figures showing that employment at the major carriers has fallen 34 percent during the last four years...."
  4. ^ "Steve LaTourette blames D.C. sucking sound on politicians' sphincters | Openers Archive Site -". 2009-03-19. Retrieved 2010-05-04. 

External links[edit]