by Robert Romano
In 2016, President Donald Trump won on an America first message on trade, uniting blue-collar union and conservative households to get over the top in the Electoral College in the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio.
Trump successfully made the case that America had gotten ripped off in prior trade dealings, particularly in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and in trade dealings with China, and that he alone could negotiate a better deal.
Now, almost four years later, Trump ended NAFTA with the renegotiated U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), pulled out of the Obama-Biden 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership and got China to agree to a phase one trade deal even though there’s still a 25 percent tariff on $250 billion of goods and another 7.5 percent on the remaining $300 billion of goods being levied, and even as the trade in goods deficit with China collapsed by more than 17.6 percent in 2019, or $73.9 billion.
The trade pressure by Trump, especially the tariffs but also threatened sanctions — his art of the deal to use his leverage — paid off big time and he will surely have a good story to tell voters this fall.
Biden further encouraged outsourcing with a sweetheart deal with Chinese President Xi Zinping (then Vice President of China) after meetings in 2011 and 2012 resulting in a 2013 Memorandum of Understanding by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), which is overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission, that allowed 156 Chinese companies being listed on U.S. exchanges with a market capitalization of $1.2 trillion, according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
This 2013 deal further capitalized production in China using child and forced slave labor. According to the annual report on child and forced labor by the Department of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, any investment in Chinese companies producing textiles are made by child labor, artificial flowers, Christmas decorations, coal, footwear and garments and nails are made by forced labor, and bricks, cotton, electronics, fireworks and toys are made by child and forced labor. The Biden-Xi 2013 deal effectively made Americans slave holders.
Given the chance, Joe Biden will sell out American workers again. In 2020, Biden barely mentioned trade at all in his acceptance speech on Aug. 20 or how he had created the very policies that produced almost a $2.5 trillion of trade in good deficit with China from 2009 to 2016, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
The most the American people got from Biden was a reference to making needed medical supplies for the COVID-19 pandemic here in the U.S. In his speech, Biden said, “We’ll make the medical supplies and protective equipment our country needs. And we’ll make them here in America. So we will never again be at the mercy of China and other foreign countries in order to protect our own people.”
So, even if Biden were to win, his proposal is to continue what Trump is already doing to bring essential medical manufacturing back to the U.S. Here, Biden is a Joey come lately.
On April 2, the U.S. ramped up production of ventilators as President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act in time such that everybody who needed a ventilator suffering from COVID-19 got one. This addressed a shortfall that a 2015 paper published in Clinical Infectious Diseases predicted the potential supply shortage in the event of an influenza pandemic. In 2020, the U.S. under President Trump’s leadership acted with time to spare and is now exporting ventilators to countries that need them.
On Aug. 6, President Trump issued an additional executive order on “Ensuring Essential Medicines, Medical Countermeasures, and Critical Inputs Are Made in the United States.”
The order makes it the policy of the U.S. to “accelerate the development of cost-effective and efficient domestic production of Essential Medicines and Medical Countermeasures and have adequate redundancy built into the domestic supply chain for Essential Medicines, Medical Countermeasures, and Critical Inputs; … ensure long-term demand for Essential Medicines, Medical Countermeasures, and Critical Inputs that are produced in the United States; … create, maintain, and maximize domestic production capabilities for Critical Inputs, Finished Drug Products, and Finished Devices that are essential to protect public safety and human health and to provide for the national defense; and … combat the trafficking of counterfeit Essential Medicines, Medical Countermeasures, and Critical Inputs over e commerce platforms and from third-party online sellers involved in the government procurement process.”
These measures will address shortfalls expressed in a 2019 letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, noting that almost all our medicine comes from China, writing, “Unbeknownst to many consumers… 80 percent of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients are produced abroad, the majority in China and India; however, the FDA only inspected one in five registered human drug manufacturing facilities abroad last year.”
It would also address a 2016 National Academy of Science paper that noted that 90 percent of our latex gloves are made in Malaysia.
Thankfully, the Trump administration is taking strong action to bring production back to the U.S. at a time when we need it the most. Joe Biden had his chance in Congress and then the White House to have the U.S. be independent of foreign producers on essential manufacturing. Instead he outsourced American jobs to child and slave laborers in China. It is President Trump who is ending that cruel injustice—and making America manufacture again.
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Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.