You can generally tell when a campaign knows it’s vulnerable on an issue by the increase or decrease in the ads it’s running on the subject. The Obama campaign clearly knows that it is vulnerable on the subject of China. The Obama campaign’s latest attempt to repel accurate criticism from Romney that Obama is weak on China, is that Obama imposed a tariff on tire imports, to help U.S. manufacturers.
But the tariff, quite predictably, didn’t help American manufacturers or consumers.
Instead of the tariff reducing imports and boosting domestic manufacturing, we got a rise in prices at home, and an increase in imports from other Asian markets like South Korea. This is what Obama points to as his proof that Obama is “tough” on China? Tough on the American economy, perhaps.
It’s just a fact that despite election-season gimmicks and hot campaign rhetoric, President Obama has repeatedly refused to stand up to China on the one economic issue where it really counts – labeling China a currency manipulator. Instead, he has relied on half-hearted, misinformed policy prescriptions like his counterproductive tariff on imports from China.
Meanwhile, China’s pegged currency has costs hundreds of thousands of lost jobs here at home, it destabilizes their foreign currency reserves, and allows them to get away with flouting international trade laws. This isn’t a partisan issue – Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown (OH), Chuck Schumer (NY), and Bob Casey (PA) have all criticized Obama’s weak-armed China policy, because they all realize that Ohioans, Pennsylvanians, and Americans across the board cannot afford four more years of Obama’s refusal to stand up to China where it really counts.
China is also not just an economic issue. As China gains traction in the world economy, it continues to rise militarily. This week, China commissioned its first aircraft carrier. The ship still has a long way to go before it rivals any American aircraft carrier, but it already represents a clear statement of China’s intent to become a blue water military power for the first time in centuries. That carrier’s commissioning may lead to an arms race in Asia, particularly if the United States continues to be such an unreliable ally. The Obama administration has yet to react, even to reassure our allies that we are still the big dog. In fact, it would be easy to read the events of the past couple of weeks as strong signs that America is now a big old dog with very little bite, and possibly blind as well.