Stressing the importance of manufacturing in a state with many blue-collar workers, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan used separate appearances in Ohio on Saturday to fault the Obama administration for failing to label China a “currency manipulator” by delaying a currency report until after the Nov. 6 election.
Administration officials announced Friday they would be delaying the release of a currency report due Oct. 15 that could have labeled China a country that purposely devalues its money to gain a competitive advantage in its trade practices. Romney has repeatedly highlighted the China currency issue during the campaign.
“The administration had their eighth chance to label China a currency manipulator – it’s due in two days – they say they are going to push this deadline off until after the election. That’s eight opportunities to say, ‘You know what, play fair with us, trade with us fairly,’” Ryan said at a rally in heavily industrial Youngstown.
Campaigning 250 miles to the south in Portsmouth, Romney repeated his promise to label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office. “It’s time for us to stand up to China for their cheating. It’s gotta stop,” he said.
The Treasury Department said it wanted to assess progress during an early November gathering of finance ministers and central bank presidents, delaying until after the election a politically charged decision that could fuel Republican claims that the administration is soft on China.
“Two million jobs we’ve lost, according to the International Trade Commission because of one country, China, taking our intellectual property rights, meaning taking our patents, taking our goods that we make and copying them and selling them – that’s not correct, that’s not right, that’s cheating,” Ryan said. “And you know what, we are going to do something about it.”
The ITC Commission study Ryan cited actually said that better protections of the nation’s intellectual property could lead to the creation of 2.1 million new jobs, not that it had led to the disappearance of existing jobs. A similar claim in an ad released by GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign has been labeled “misleading” by fact checkers.
Romney’s campaign sees no issue with the claim. “A lost job is a lost job,” said spokesman Michael Steel when asked about Ryan’s use of the study.
Responding to Ryan, Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner took the offensive, pointing to the president’s action against a surge in Chinese tire imports by imposing tariffs in 2009. The Obama campaign has highlighted Romney’s opposition to the move – which one study says saved as many as 1,200 domestic jobs -- in an ad.
“Congressman Ryan’s tough rhetoric can’t hide the fact that Mitt Romney will never crack down on China’s cheating – just look at his record. When President Obama stood up to China on behalf of American tire workers, Romney called it ‘decidedly bad for the nation,’ “ Kanner said in a statement.
Even though he has made tough talk about China a prominent focus about his campaign, Romney had business ties to the country prior to his presidential election in which he has taken a harder line. According to an Associated Press story published earlier this week, as the chairman and chief executive of consulting firm Bain & Co.’s, Romney helped oversee the company’s expansion into China in the early, including tasking members of the firm with holding management seminars for Chinese government trade officials.
Bain & Co. – which is separate from the venture capital firm Bain Capital that Romney helped found in the 1980s – was among several U.S. strategy firms that branched out to Beijing during the 1990s.
Speaking in southern Ohio's coal country, Romney pledged to be friendlier to the coal industry than the president, pointing out that Obama spoke of making it difficult to build new coal plants when he ran in 2008. “That tells you something about his philosophy,” Romney said. “Mine is this: we have a lot of coal, we’re going to use it.”
The Obama campaign has fought Romney's use of coal as a campaign issue, running ads in coal country that accuse the Republican of backing tax policies that would send jobs overseas and using footage from 2003 when Romney was Massachusetts' governor and vowed to close a coal plant there that he said "kills people."
The Republican nominee also voiced his support for a nuclear power plant located in nearby Piketon, Ohio that has been waiting for a $2 billion loan guarantee from the federal government since 2009. Obama supported the loan guarantee, which would outfit the plant with new energy technology, while he was campaigning in 2008. His administration, however, has continued to delay its approval in the face of budget deficits and a lengthy review process.
“I know you’re particularly aware of nuclear as well and recognize America must have a reliable source of domestically produced uranium, enriched uranium.,” Romney said. “We need to make sure that Piketon has the most modern technology so that we can provide that source of security for our great country.”
Ryan also faulted the president for insufficient bipartisan compromise on budgeting issues. He implied House Republicans had been hoping for “triangulation” from the president, referring to a term that was coined when former President Clinton worked with then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich to craft budget deals.
“We were hoping that that’s the kind of administration we would have in its second half of its term. And so we put our budget out there and what we got was nothing but attacks and demagoguery from the president,” Ryan said.
He omitted mentioning that Obama worked with House Speaker John Boehner to craft a deal to raise the debt ceiling in the summer of 2011 – a deal that was undermined in part because House Republicans took a hard line against any revenue increases.