As a non-partisan service to readers, following are unedited position papers from the Obama and Romney campaign websites on each candidates’ views on manufacturing and trade issues. You may visit the campaign websites yourself at http://www.barackobama.com and http://www.mittromney.com to dig deeper. We welcome any feedback or opinions on this election and what it means to manufacturing in the Comments section below.
Paul J. Heney
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President Obama is fighting to grow the economy from the middle class out, not the top down. This election presents a choice between two fundamentally different visions of how to grow our economy and create good middle-class jobs.
30 straight months of growth
Before President Obama took office, the economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month. Now, we’ve seen 30 consecutive months of job growth and 5.1 million new private sector jobs.
Mitt Romney opposed the Recovery Act, opposed the auto industry rescue, and said that we should let the housing market “hit the bottom.”
Rescuing the auto industry
President Obama refused to let the American auto industry die. He took a chance on Americans, and it paid off. More than 1 million jobs were saved, the U.S. auto industry is roaring back and adding jobs and all government loans were paid back ahead of time.
Mitt Romney said that we should have let Detroit “go bankrupt.”
Reviving U.S. Manufacturing
U.S. manufacturing has added more than half a million jobs since January 2010—the most growth in a decade.
Mitt Romney mocked the President for encouraging young people to pursue careers in manufacturing, and while he was governor of Massachusetts the state lost manufacturing jobs at a rate twice the national average.
Made in America
President Obama has a plan to bring jobs back to the U.S. by eliminating tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and creating incentives for businesses to bring jobs back to America.
Mitt Romney has no plan to get rid of tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and wants to eliminate taxes on American companies’ foreign profits, which would actually encourage more outsourcing.
Making sure everyone plays by the same rules
President Obama passed Wall Street reform to make sure that Americans would never again have to pay to bail out big banks.
Mitt Romney has promised to repeal Wall Street reform, allowing big banks to once again write their own rules.
Open markets have helped make America powerful and prosperous. Indeed, they have been one of the keys to our economic success since the country was founded. Approximately 95 percent of the world’s consumers live beyond our borders, and selling our world-class products and services to them is the next great frontier for economic growth. The fewer the barriers to cross-border commerce, the more economic growth we enjoy and the greater the number of American jobs brought into being.
Of course, opening markets must be a two-way street. For America truly to benefit in global commerce, we need to ensure that our entrepreneurs can sell their high-quality products and services around the world. This means that agreements must create a level playing field for competition.
American workers and businesses have unparalleled strengths. If we open new markets to what they produce and ensure that they are treated fairly, we can foster an environment for rapid economic growth and job creation.
Under President Obama’s watch, America has sat on the sidelines while our major trading competitors have been moving forward aggressively. Thus, since the last trade agreement signed by President Bush in 2007, the European Union has successfully signed agreements with nine countries and pursued negotiations with sixteen others. China, for its part, has signed agreements with four countries and pursued negotiations with fifteen others. In August 2011, a group of Asian nations – including many with whom President Obama has stalled progress on trade – announced their goal to create an economic bloc that would include China but not the United States.
President Obama has also singularly failed in handling commercial relations with China, which has adopted a deliberate policy of building up its own economy by misappropriating western technology, blocking access to its market, and manipulating its currency. The Chinese government facilitates this behavior by forcing American companies to share proprietary technology as a condition of their doing business in China. Instead of responding forcefully, the Obama administration has acted like a supplicant. Having borrowed hundreds of billions of dollars from Beijing to pay for its agenda, it has placed America in a weak position at the very moment when we need to stand tall.
Mitt Romney believes that free trade is essential to restoring robust economic growth and creating jobs. We need to open new markets beyond our borders for American goods and services on terms that work for America.
Opening New Markets
Every president beginning with Ronald Reagan has recognized the power of open markets and pursued them on behalf of the United States. George W. Bush successfully negotiated eleven FTAs, encompassing sixteen countries. He also had the vision to commence negotiations with a number of allies around the Pacific Rim to expand significantly the Trans-Pacific Partnership. All told, these agreements have enabled people across the world to come together and build a better future. Economists estimate that the agreements have led to the creation of 5.4 million new American jobs and support a total of nearly 18 million jobs. Looking beyond just our FTA partners, our total exports support nearly 10 million American jobs. These are not just jobs; they’re good jobs, paying significantly above average, and more than one-third are in manufacturing.
• Reinstate the president’s Trade Promotion Authority
• Complete negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership
• Pursue new trade agreements with nations committed to free enterprise and open markets
• Create the Reagan Economic Zone
China presents a broad set of problems that cry out urgently for solutions. It is time to end the Obama administration’s acquiescence to the one-way arrangements the Chinese have come to enjoy. We need a fresh and fearless approach to that trade relationship. Our first priority must be to put on the table all unilateral actions within our power to ensure that the Chinese adhere to existing agreements. Anyone with business experience knows that you can succeed in a negotiation only if you are willing to walk away. If we want the Chinese to play by the rules, we must be willing to say “no more” to a relationship that too often benefits them and harms us.
• Increase CBP resources to prevent the illegal entry of goods into our market
• Increase USTR resources to pursue and support litigation against unfair trade practices
• Use unilateral and multilateral punitive measures to deter unfair Chinese practices
• Designate China a currency manipulator and impose countervailing duties
• Discontinue U.S. government procurement from China until China commits to GPA