President Trump, Vice President Pence, and former VP Joe Biden were in Pennsylvania recently talking to workers about trade.
Naturally, the shaky Democrat frontrunner made it a point to tell critical swing state voters that the president’s so-called ‘trade war’ with China was going to be a disaster for their families. Biden conveniently forgets the devastating impact of President Obama’s economic and energy policies on jobs in places like Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and other Rust Belt states.
With unemployment at historic lows and the economy continuing to grow, Democrats’ only strategy on the economy is an attempt to paint the China trade negotiations as a risky and dangerous Trumpian policy that will hurt consumers and kill jobs.
The White House is increasingly perceived as having a bunker mentality over the impeachment circus. However, ongoing talks and some progress confirmed by the president’s economic team means Trump has a significant opportunity to get on offense against attacks on economic policy and impeachment through an Oval Office address on his trade policy. The White House’s ability to articulate to the American people a cogent rationale for its China trade policy can serve a variety of purposes and boost his position against the 2020 field.
Trump can blunt criticism of his rivals and demonstrate that his administration isn’t paralyzed by the impeachment proceedings by providing a realistic, measured, and carefully articulated message to the public about his rationale, his goals, and progress. The media has pounded the phrase “trade war” into the national conversation, but most people have been given little else from the White House in terms of impacts on American workers and our economic competitiveness from China’s abuses.
From intellectual property abuses to currency devaluation and market manipulation, China’s exploitation is real. Our ballooning trade deficit with China has cost more than 3.4 million American jobs since the country was allowed to join the WTO in 2001. That staggering deficit of more than $400 billion represents nearly 50% of the U.S. trade deficit with the entire world.
Among the hardest hit states in terms of job losses include New Hampshire, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, all states the president is eyeing as he runs for reelection.
Pennsylvania and Alabama’s steel industries have also been hard hit by China’s government-subsidized steel industry dumping product into the U.S. market. While successful trade cases pursued by the American steel industry and the Trump administration’s tariffs have reduced Chinese steel imports two years in a row, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute, countries like Vietnam and South Korea continue to flood the U.S. market with transshipped Chinese steel.
China’s plants also don’t adhere to accepted environmental standards giving them an additional unfair advantage vis-à-vis U.S. private companies.
People assess public policy the same way they make virtually any decision, based on assumptions of risk. There is some risk associated with finally taking on China for unfair trade practices, but the president needs to lay out the cost-benefit analysis addressing what that might mean for the average American.
A prime-time address would also give the president the opportunity to propose how an increase in revenue from a trade realignment would be used to benefit Americans. Those uses for funds could include necessary infrastructure investments or, as NY Yankees President Randy Levine recently wrote, providing a federal loan fund for America’s grossly underfunded union pensions. Both of those would be big political wins for Trump in swing states. Additionally, those rightly concerned about income inequality would welcome a strategy that could help save lower-income manufacturing jobs in this country.
Trump was a critic of our trading practices with China, long before he ran for president. For years he’s blasted America’s willingness to allow the communist nation to grow in economic strength at the expense of American workers. This is a big part of his “blue collar billionaire” persona. He ran on fighting for workers and a stronger economy. Next to the tax cuts, the China issue is perhaps the most visible component of Trump’s economic policy. It also is central to his outsider, “drain the swamp” message because he routinely hits both Republicans and Democrats for capitulating to the Chinese for decades.
Democrats obsessed with impeachment, to the exclusion of pressing issues impacting the American people, are creating an opening for the president alone to address the challenges we face as Americans. President Trump’s best defense against the current political and media onslaught is to ensure the American people understand in, clear and concise fashion, what he is doing to advance an agenda of economic growth.
With the impeachment process picking up steam, now is the right time for Trump to be bigger and bolder. Now is the time to be presidential.
Tom Basile has been part of the American political landscape from Presidential campaigns to local politics. He served in the Bush Administration from 2001-2004, as Executive Director of the NYS Republican Party and has held a range of senior-level communications roles in and out of government. Basile's critically-acclaimed book, "Tough Sell: Fighting the Media War in Iraq" (Foreword by Amb. John R. Bolton), chronicles his time in Baghdad fighting media bias and driving fairer coverage of the Iraq war. In 2011, he was featured in Time Magazine's Person of the Year spread about political activism around the world. Basile is an adjunct professor at Fordham University, a local elected official and runs a New York-based strategic communications firm. He is a member of the New York Bar and sits on a number of academic and philanthropic advisory boards. Learn more about him at TomBasile.com or follow him on Twitter @Tom_Basile. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.