Listening to some of the trade apologists for China warn against congressional action over currency manipulation reminds us of a kid who is getting his lunch money stolen by a bully every day but is afraid to say anything because the bully might give him a wedgie and take his lunch.
It’s time to stand up to a country that not only maintains a huge balance of trade advantage over the United States, but whines, moans and threatens every time somebody stands up and calls them on it.
China already has a built-in trade advantage by virtue of cheap labor, less stringent environmental controls and the ability of the central government to control the manufacturing, import and export processes.
On top of that, China has traditionally shown little or no respect for patents and copyrights — although that has improved somewhat — and has made it very clear to U.S. corporations that China is not so much interested in importing manufactured products as it is in requiring U.S. companies to build plants and produce their goods there.
On top of all that and more — like dumping steel, pipe and tires on the U.S. market at unrealistic prices — China maintains the value of its currency at an artificial rate that makes its exports cheaper around the world and makes imports to China more expensive (and thus less likely to sell).
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles has worked for years to pass a bill that would punish China for undervaluing its currency. Last year he got it through the House, but the Senate never took it up, and it died with the end of the Congress. This year, he has more than enough co-sponsors for similar legislation, but the House leadership has changed and both Republicans leaders, Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Majority leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, oppose the legislation. Cantor has predicted it won’t reach the floor even if a similar bill passes the Senate.
Still, the Senate is poised to send a currency bill to the House and one of the indications of how bipartisan the issue has become is that Ohio’s Republican junior senator, Rob Portman, has joined Democrat Sherrod Brown in supporting the bill.
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