Boehner Comments Turn a Blind Eye to Ohio Workers
The U.S. Senate is currently considering legislation that would impose reasonable penalties to level the playing field for American workers and companies put at a disadvantage by China’s market-distorting, job-killing currency manipulation. China’s protectionist currency rigging acts as a tax on American exports and as a massive illegal subsidy on goods coming from China.
On Monday, 79 Senators voted to move the bill forward. Additional votes later this week will likely send the measure over to the House. However, John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, yesterday said that he opposes such legislation:
“I think it’s pretty dangerous for us to move legislation in the United States Congress forcing someone to deal with the value of their currency...This is well beyond I think what the Congress ought to be doing. While I’ve got concerns about how the Chinese dealt with their currency, I’m not sure this will fix it."
These comments raised eyebrows because they ignore the interests of the American people, as well as conclusive data from a range of economists, and by members of Boehner's own party.
• A poll conducted this summer found that 86 percent of voters – ranging from Tea Party supporters to Democrats – support action to hold China accountable for currency manipulation.
• Fixing China’s currency manipulation would yield significant potential economic benefits over the next 18 to 24 months that are unmatched by any other policy option: 2.25 million American jobs created (1.6 percent increase in total employment); a $285.7 billion (1.9 percent) increase in U.S. GDP; a $190.5 billion reduction in the annual U.S.-China trade deficit; and, a $71.4 billion reduction in the annual U.S. budget deficit ($621 to $857 billion over ten years).
• 225 members – a majority – of the House of Representatives are cosponsors of the curent China currency bill (H.R. 639), including over 60 members of Mr. Boehner’s party. Meanwhile, 348 voted to pass it in the last Congress, including 99 Republicans.
Worst of all, Mr. Boehner’s comments turn a blind eye to the pain endured by Ohioans over the past decade, over which time manufacturing employment plummeted in the state from 1,021,000 in 2000 to 627,400 in May. The surging U.S. trade deficit with China – fueled by currency manipulation and other egregious practices – was the cause of 103,397 of those job losses between 2001-2010, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). A staggering 6,856 of those jobs were in Mr. Boehner’s 8th congressional district – a 2.21 percent share of total employment. The unemployment rate in Ohio is nine percent.
Finally, it’s worth asking Mr. Boehner a simple question about how he proposes to solve this problem, which he acknowledges is real. The Obama administration has already shown that it is unwilling to take on China’s mercantilist trade practices. It has declined to label China as a “currency manipulator” in any of its first five required reports to Congress on exchange rates of major trading partners. So, if Mr. Boehner doesn’t think this is something that Congress “ought to be doing,” the question then remains who should stand up for American workers and companies struggling to survive in the face of China’s protectionist policies?
The answer is simple. Congress must act.
As support for the currency bill grows in the House, and even among Mr. Boehner’s party, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) will be watching to see if he softens his position. One thing is certain; even though Mr. Boehner has decided to turn a blind eye to workers and companies in Ohio, these hard-working Americans will not blink. They will be watching to see if Mr. Boehner fights for their interests or if he seeks to continue the status quo of inaction that benefits the communist Chinese government and companies that have outsourced their operations to China.
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