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Ratcheting up pressure on GOP (and Obama) over China

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The following article appeared in the Washington Post.

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Ratcheting up pressure on GOP (and Obama) over China

By Greg Sargent | Posted at 03:04 PM ET, 09/19/2012

Mitt Romney routinely accuses Obama of failing to get tough with China, and the President has returned fire by slamming Romney over Bain outsourcing and touting his own filing of enforcement actions against the country.

But it’s worth noting that there is a China-currency bill sitting right there in Congress that has already passed the Senate and would almost certainly pass the House if the GOP leadership scheduled a vote on it.

That bill is now going to get some more attention and could roil the politics a bit around China in the presidential race. Although the bill has strong support in Congress, in both parties, the White House has not publicly supported it, making this a point of disagreement with labor, which views it as a major priority. Romney opposes it.

Senator Sherrod Brown, the lead sponsor, is organizing to increase the pressure on his fellow Ohioan, John Boehner, to hold a vote on the bill. He is circulating a letter today among fellow Senators, addressed to Boehner, demanding a vote, and noting that a similar version passed in 2010 with the support of 80 House Republicans still in office.

The bill would give the U.S. government trade tools to more easily combat currency ma­nipu­la­tion, which could lead to higher tariffs against China. Steven Dennis has a good piece on the backstory and the politics here; the short version is that the White House has not supported it because it believes this course of action would start a trade war with China. But many groups on the left want it to pass as part of their push to revitalize manufacturing.

In an interview with me, however, Senator Brown told me that he’s convinced Obama would sign the bill if it passed — a declaration that will catch the attention of the major unions who want it.

“I’m confident Obama will sign this bill,” Brown said, adding that his conversations with the White House had persuaded him of this. “This will pass if Boehner schedules it.”

Brown added that the bill, and the ideas behind it, resonate heavily with working class voters, such as those in industrial swing states like Ohio and Wisconsin. “People recognize that trade policy and tax policy have undermined the middle class and manufacturing,” Brown said. “The public knows the game has been rigged.”

Brown’s declaration that Obama would pass the bill seems intended to increase pressure on House GOP leaders to bring it to a vote; China is a potent issue in the industrial battlegrounds. But it seems highly unlikely that it will come to a vote, and the White House will probably continue to keep its position on the issue vague. Still, renewed attention to the bill could perhaps increase the pressure on all parties to act.

2 Responses to “Ratcheting up pressure on GOP (and Obama) over China”

  1. Maggie says:

    I entered a comment on the White House web site about the TPP fiasco and there was not even a “trade” category listed so I entered it under “homeland security” as more appropriate anyhow because there is little in TPP about “trade” and a lot about delegating everything from food safely to financial stability to international tribunal control. Senator Sherrod Brown has my support and I am not from Ohio and not in a union.

  2. Tom T says:

    From the article:

    “It’s just naked pandering to the electorate; it’s as simple as that,” said Andy Roth, vice president of government relations at the conservative Club for Growth. “Don’t bet the farm on that happening if he’s elected.”

    Basically the lobbyist for the Club for Growth is saying that Romney is lying on this issue to get votes (from the referenced article) to win the election. Meanwhile Senator Sessions of AL claims that Romney will sign the bill and improve the economics of the U.S.–to paraphrase his quotes from the article.

    It is exceptionally hard to believe that Romney actually supports the bill if he isn’t calling on the House of Reps. to vote on it so the president can actually sign it (he can’t sign a bill before it is passed). We have all seen the game of promises and the reality of actual governing from both parties.

    Tom T.

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