Sen. Lindsey Graham accused President Barack Obama Thursday
of failing to lead on a bipartisan bill cracking down on China’s currency
manipulation, saying Obama has “flip-flopped” on the issue since his 2008 campaign for the presidency.
“I wish President Obama would be as hard on the Chinese, who
are cheating Americans out of jobs, as he is on American businesses,” the South Carolina Republican said Thursday in an interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. “He gives flip-flopping a bad name,” Graham added, referring to Obama’s promise during his campaign to come down hard on China for devaluing its own currency in an effort to flood the world market with Chinese goods.
The result, Graham said, has cost American jobs by making it more difficult for smaller U.S. businesses to compete. A bill authored by
Graham and Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York that would punish China by raising U.S. tariffs on some Chinese exports if Beijing fails to adopt a market-driven currency is on the verge of passing the Senate.
But it still faces strong opposition in the House, where Majority Leader John Boehner has called it “dangerous.”
Obama, Graham said, could help get the legislation through Congress, but instead has expressed concern that it might touch off a trade war with China, which has already threatened retaliatory action if the bill passes.
“President Obama today, or yesterday, said, ‘I’m concerned about this legislation,’” Graham said. “I wish he would practice what he preached as candidate Obama and take the Chinese on and say we want to do business with you, but you won’t cheat Americans out of jobs.”
Graham said he understands that many Republicans and Democrats alike are worried about angering China, which holds nearly half of the U.S. debt. But he said the president has an “unhealthy fear” of engaging China that will continue to cost U.S. jobs.
“The people that I am trying to protect are the manufacturers and the small business people who are trying to have a part of the world market,” Graham said. “I want us to do business with China, I want us to sell to China things that we make here, and I want to compete with China fairly.”
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