Obama Welcomes Campaign Season with China Trade Complaint

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Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Barack Obama steps out of an historic house to speak at a campaign event at the Wolcott House Museum Complex July 5, 2012 in Maumee, Ohio.

Maumee, Ohio.

“It’s campaign season, again,” Barack Obama announced Thursday, after emerging in the sweltering summer heat behind hay bales and before a giant American flag draped across the roof of a nearby building. Then he pivoted to a policy decision his advisers say has nothing to do with the season.

“This morning, my Administration took new action to hold China accountable for unfair trading practices that harm American automakers,” Obama said. “Let me tell you something, Americans are not afraid to compete. We believe in competition. I believe in trade. I know this, Americans and American workers build better products than anybody else, so as long as we are competing on a fair playing field we will do just fine, but we are going to make sure competition is fair. That is part of what I believe.”

As the President said, it’s campaign season, again.

On the flight from Washington to Toledo, Ohio, on Air Force One, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney pointed out that the action would directly impact cars built in the swing state of Ohio. But he also said the timing of the announcement was unrelated to the trip. “This is the seventh such action that this administration has taken,” Carney said. “It simply can’t suddenly be a political action because it happens during the campaign.”

It was the third time in recent months that Obama has used the power of his office to grab headlines and shift the national debate. Earlier this month, he issued an executive order that provided work permits to many of the undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children. Prior to that, he announced that he personally favored the idea of gay marriage.

Romney, who’s on vacation in New Hampshire, had no public events scheduled for Thursday. His campaign, however, responded in a statement. Candidate Obama may talk a tough game on standing up to China and fighting for American manufacturing – but President Obama just hasn’t delivered,” wrote campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “On Day One, Mitt Romney will stand up to China and fight to protect American jobs.”

The President’s challenge targets Chinese anti-dumping tariffs, announced in December of 2011, that add to the cost of roughly 92,000 large-engine cars, worth about $3.3 billion, exported to China from the United States each year. The Chinese have argued that the U.S. bailout of the American auto industry in 2009 gave U.S cars an unfair trade advantage.

The challenge, which will be litigated in Switzerland at the World Trade Organization, is the latest action in years of tit for tat disagreements between the China and the United States. Months after the new Chinese tariffs, the Obama Administration announced stiff tariffs of 31% and higher for Chinese-made solar panels, alleging that the Chinese had dumped those panels on the U.S. market below market value after significant government subsidies.

But the impact of Obama’s announcement is likely to be more political than economic. On the campaign trail, Romney has repeatedly criticized Obama for taking a soft line on China, and two of Romney’s first three general election campaign ads boast about how he will stand up to China if he is elected.

In 2009, Romney criticized Obama for taking too hard a line against China, after Obama imposed tariffs on Chinese tires, after claiming that China was dumping them on U.S. markets. “President Obama’s action to defend American tire companies from foreign competition may make good politics by repaying unions for their support of his campaign, but it is decidedly bad for the nation and our workers. Protectionism stifles productivity,” Romney wrote in No Apology: The Case For American Greatness, which he has since referred to as blueprint for his 2012 campaign.

The World Trade Organization later ruled that Obama was legally justified in bringing the sanctions against Chinese tires.

22 comments
f_galton
f_galton

He should also complain about the time they put pee pee in the coke.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

I invite you to offer your opinion HERE

because we're not going THERE.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

This one is somewhat different, but what is with all these comments with only a link from unknown names? Surely nobody is silly enough to click on them. I flag them just for the hell of it, but doubt that it matters.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

Romney has repeatedly criticized Obama for taking a soft line on China[...]

In 2009, Romney criticized Obama for taking too hard a line against China,

Do you ever get the feeling that reporters are getting tired of biting their tongues and refraining from pointing and laughing?

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

I wish they'd stop holding back and let him have it in public. Reading Scherer vent at us commenters is one thing but he and other swamp reporters need to call out Gov. Flip-Floppery to his face on the record.

jmac
jmac

Kerry got such massive press with his one tiny flip/flop - and tons of flip flops.    We should all send something to the Republican National Convention (or to Fox, the controller of the MSM).   Etch-a-sketches might be too expensive, but a slinky would do to show he changes his mind repeatedly on trying to keep the Teas happy.  It's a downward spiral.  

Sue_N.
Sue_N.

Romney now: “Candidate Obama may talk a tough game on standing up to China and fighting for American manufacturing – but President Obama just hasn’t delivered.”

Romney in 2009: “President Obama’s action to defend American tire companies from foreign competition may make good politics by repaying unions for their support of his campaign, but it is decidedly bad for the nation and our workers. Protectionism stifles productivity.”

How does this man not have a permanent case of whiplash?

loricaliforni
loricaliforni

I grew up in Maumee, Ohio - I can't believe they allowed this at the Wolcott House of all places - the most un-American president in US History in a place of great American historical value. I hope this guy gets ousted in November before he tramples on any more of MY American history!

Sue_N.
Sue_N.

Right. Because nothing says "America" like telling the black folks where they can and can't go.

MrObvious
MrObvious

So part of your American history is outsource OH jobs to China? Doesn't sound very American at all.

Swiftright Right
Swiftright Right

Que the hillbilly music from Deliverance.

"That there man of colour aint no prezident ME!"

anon76returns
anon76returns

He's been great by MY American history.  We'll see in November if the majority of the electorate agree with me.

Ain't democracy grand?

adam_onge
adam_onge

Clinton used to say: "It's the economy, stupid", so Obama should now say:

 "It's the Chinese stupid".

See:

http://www.manufacturingnews.c...

for a discussion about the adverse effects that China has on the US economy, in particular jobs.

jmac
jmac

Obama is trying to "grab headlines" as he supported gay marriage?  Really?  Who knew gay marriage was an election winner?     Columnists have been hitting him repeatedly to explain his policies.      Since this China issue is on-going, wouldn't this be a case of him explaining where he stands?  Is he doomed if he does and doomed if he doesn't by the MSM?  

The immigration issue  certainly struck a nerve with Scalia.  Since immigration has been dead in the water since Republicans took down Bush Jr,  -  and anytime it's mentioned close to an election (see Lindsey Graham) Republicans go completely postal,  just maybe it's the only way to actually get something done.  You think?    

Sue_N.
Sue_N.

I know, right? I seem to recall all the media freaking out that Obama's statement on gay marriage was political suicide that was going to cost him the election. And then his executive order on young immigrants was going to do that. But now it's "grabbing headlines and shifting the national debate."

We're as badly served by our political press as we are by our politicians.

anon76returns
anon76returns

"In 2009, Romney criticized Obama for taking too hard a line against China... The World Trade Organization later ruled that Obama was legally justified in bringing the sanctions against Chinese tires."

Romney is amazing.  He has an uncanny knack for changing his position in order to be on the wrong side of every issue.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Yeh, but teh dirty unions were involved.  That'd give him some cover 'cuz everybody hates unions!

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

Fascinating, isn't it? You'd think the law of averages would require that some of these flip-flops would land him on the right side.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Maybe the law of large numbers applies to Mitt since he flip-flops so often.