Who’s Really ‘Getting Tough’ On China?

This ad is currently running in several states including here in Ohio.

Mitt Romney says it's time to get tough on China and stop "the cheaters," which presumably doesn't include him or Bain Capital, which outsourced jobs to China.

And apparently the way to get tough on China is to hold fundraisers there.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plan a campaign fundraiser for him Thursday in Hong Kong as U.S.-China trade friction becomes an issue in the White House race. [...]

Romney accuses China's government of trade, currency and intellectual property abuses, and says President Barack Obama has failed to confront Chinese officials as the abuses worsened.

Lessons in bad optics aside, Romney's rhetoric on China is also very misleading.

According to a report from Bloomberg, the manufacturing sector in America is currently seeing higher growth than at any time since former President Bill Clinton left office.

The BGOV Barometer shows U.S. factory positions have grown since early 2010, arresting a slide that began toward the end of the 1990s. It’s the best showing since the era of Bill Clinton, the only president in the last 30 years to leave office with more factory jobs than when he began. [...]

In a larger context, factory jobs are rebounding off a low base, and an employment level of 12 million in August is down from 17.9 million in 1990. Even so, gains in all except three months since February 2010 provide “reason to believe manufacturing employment may have turned the corner,” said Muir Macpherson, a Bloomberg Government economist in Washington who analyzed the government data on factory jobs.

“This is the first sustained increase we’ve seen in a long time,” Macpherson said. A continuation of the trend may mean factory employment by the end of a second term for Obama would be higher than when he took office in 2009, putting him in the company of Clinton, he said. The progress so far also contrasts with the job losses seen during the recovery from the 2001 recession, when George W. Bush was president, he said.

After the nose-dive in manufacturing seen during the Bush years and immediately following the financial crisis and recession, manufacturing is now on a path to sustained recovery. Furthermore, Mitt Romney is promising a to return to Bush-era policies that gutted American manufacturing in the first place.

Another Mitt Romney ad, which debuted two days ago, also accuses President Obama of passing up seven opportunities to punish China for unfair trade practices, which also isn't true.

As recently as last week, the Obama administration filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization accusing China of illegally subsidizing exports of auto parts. The Obama administration, and the leaders of other countries, also filed complaints earlier this year accusing China of hoarding rare earth minerals. Additionally, a large number of complaints were filed against China in 2011.

Mitt Romney cannot run on the record as it stands, because it turns out the record isn't so bad. This leaves him with a choice of either agreeing with the president's actions or lying, and we know the former isn't really an option in today's Republican party.

As a bonus -- here's Mitt Romney discussing the working conditions at one of the factories Bain Capital was kind enough to help a partner acquire. Because they're so fortunate to have us to exploit them to produce cheap trinkets.

Any questions?

  • CodpieceWatch

    Yes, I have a question: Isn’t it illegal to hold fundraisers in foreign countries?

  • trgahan

    So let me get this straight, the leaders of America’s manufacturing sector spend decades moving as much of their operations to China (and elsewhere) in an effort to cut costs, increase profits to yield higher stock prices and larger bonuses. China didn’t just wake up one day and decide to start making IPhones.

    Is it really “trade” when it’s an American company the likely owns and/or is funding the operation in China? Or is this resentment from the American business sector over the Chinese finally catching up and opening competing factories in China? I don’t see us bitching about “unfair trade” for all the outsource manufacturing in Mexico, Thailand, or Cambodia.

  • D_C_Wilson

    Mittens has invested in at least one Chinese manufacturer that we know of. It’s hard to believe he’ll be tough on China when it’s in his economic self-interest not to.