This has been the country that prospered by leading change.
No matter where an American stands between the far-left and far-right extremes of national politics, the recent atrocious public behavior of many U.S. citizens, and far worse, their elected representatives, is cause for serious concern. Already well established, partisan bickering escalated rapidly after the passage of the healthcare reform bill into gross incivility, even including violence, something we formerly saw only in news reports from elsewhere.
Sensing relief, I jumped at the invitation to an online press conference by the Alliance for American Manufacturing to present a new report by the Economic Policy Institute on the still-growing U.S. trade deficit with China. The existence of that deficit is certainly not news, even though some predictions in EPI’s study show how much worse things can become economically—and not only for the USA—if China’s currency exchange manipulation doesn’t change.
But that’s not really why I jumped at the invitation. The teleconference would include two stalwarts of the U.S. Senate, one from each side of the aisle: Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Charles Schumer (D-NY). Mind you, this conference was on the same day that President Obama was signing the healthcare reform bill, and we know how much bipartisanship went into that one. Zero.
It’s quite the contrary for Senators Graham and Schumer regarding China’s currency manipulation. They will be pressuring the U.S. Treasury Dept. to identify China as a currency manipulator in Treasury’s April 15 report on the subject, something the department has avoided in the past. And both senators affirmed that whether or not Treasury lists China as a manipulator, they will co-sponsor legislation calling for corrective action.
Sen. Graham was clear about wanting a mutually beneficial relationship with China. “We want goods that we can purchase at a low cost, but not at all costs,” he said. Sen. Schumer noted that he and Graham had tried for similar legislation in 2005, and that their bill was called overreaction. He cited the EPI report’s conclusion that the U.S. has lost 2.4 million manufacturing jobs since 2001, traceable to the misaligned currencies. He added that 140,000 of them were from his state, New York.
There was a distinct presence of courtesy and respect between these two senators during the conference, be it tone of voice or waiting for the other to conclude a comment, even asking if the other was done. I wish them success, certainly for the China currency legislation, but even more as role models. Divided we fall is not merely an expression. —Rob Neilley