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Debate Preview: The Romney-Ryan China Record

By monkeysz_uncle ( [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

We expect tonight’s debate will include more fantastical claims from Mitt Romney, and to inoculate you against “Romnesia,” we include some notes on the actual Romney-Ryan record. Despite Romney and Paul Ryan’s history of enthusiasm for outsourcing American jobs to China and elsewhere, they claim they would somehow be “tougher on China” than the Obama administration has been. We want to make sure you know about the real Romney-Ryan record on China before Romney tries to “etch-a-sketch” it away this evening.

  1. China and enforcing trade rules. Just last week, the Obama administration won a major case at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against China.  That victory means jobs for steelworkers in Ohio and Pennsylvania,and is an example of how much more effective Obama has been than George W. Bush in protecting America's workers from Chinese cheating. Romney, on the other hand, has an economic and foreign policy team entirely made up by veterans of Bush’s failed trade policies.

    That win is part of Obama’s unsung trade history. Overall, President Obama has brought four times as many trade cases against China as President Bush. That includes trade sanctions against China to stem job-displacing imports of tires that Mitt Romney, in a recently uncovered video, opposed.

    That’s right, when talking to elites away from the limelight, Romney contradicts his public stances on China, just as he attacks the 47% in private while embracing 100% of Americans in public.

  2. China and taxes. Romney’s tax policies don’t only favor the very richest Americans, his tax policies actively encourage outsourcing by multinational corporations. That’s right—while Romney talks tough on China, he is pushing tax policies that will make it more profitable for CEOs to follow his personal lead and outsource more jobs overseas.
  3. Romney has made tens of millions—actually, possibly hundreds of millions—from outsourcing. Under Romney's control, Bain Capital owned “pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States,” and he continues to profit from outsourcing to this day, as the residents of Bainport can tell you in sad detail. Moreover, Romney and his private equity friends (and donors) made massive profits by extorting the American government and auto industry, while destroying thousands of good American jobs making auto parts at Delphi.  

    Romney is not a solution to outsourcing, he is a cause of it.

  4. China and currency manipulation. Economists agree that keeping currency undervalued creates an unfair trade advantage by keeping goods artificially underpriced. Over the past decade, currency manipulation by the Chinese government helped create a U.S. trade deficit that now runs in the trillions of dollars. Last year, our trade deficit with China was $295 billion.

    Currency manipulation has contributed to the loss of millions of American manufacturing jobs. Economists across the board agree that currency manipulation distorts trade and exacerbates the enormous unsustainable trade deficits this nation continues to run up. 

    The Romney-Ryan team keeps claiming they will get tough on China. Former Gov. Romney says he will immediately declare China a manipulator and take action. Neither Romney nor Ryan has ever taken any action on China. They have never encouraged the House Republicans to take action on the bipartisan currency bill that passed the Senate overwhelmingly a year ago and passed the House in the previous Congress.

    In fact, Congressman Ryan’s record is just the opposite. Congressman Ryan has been an outspoken advocate of the supposed “free trade” approach, supporting every trade deal over the past decade. When the Bush administration repeatedly failed to take action on China trade cases, in spite of the recommendations of the International Trade Commission, Congressman Ryan did not raise *any* concerns. When Bush’s Treasury Department failed to name China as a manipulator 16 times in a row, he never said a word. Ryan has passed up every opportunity to be “tough on China.”

Here are some highlights of Ryan's record:

  • Over the past eight years, four bipartisan bills currency manipulation bills were introduced in Congress. Congressman Ryan never co-sponsored any of them.
  • H.R. 639, the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act of 2011 has more than 230 bipartisan co-sponsors. Congressman Ryan is not one of them.
  • H.R. 2378, the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act of 2009, passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a strong bipartisan vote of 348 to 79. Congressman Ryan voted against the bill.
  • Congressman Ryan actually helped create the trade deficits with his vote in 2000 for the House bill that gave the People's Republic of China permanent normal trade relations status. The bill led to China's entry into the World Trade Organization.

A Romney-Ryan administration would favor tax and trade policies that benefit people like Romney, the private equity tycoon, to the detriment of American workers. So when Romney talks "tough" tonight about China, recognize that none of his statements are consistent with his track record, or that of his running mate, Paul Ryan. 

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