I’m probably asking for it, but the political junkie and the manufacturing geek in me had a meeting while I was sleeping last night… which will probably teach me to not have that last glass of local Justin cabernet. Those two devils on my shoulders thought it would be interesting to see who our readers thought would be the best President for manufacturing… however that is defined. And then see what those same people thought were the most important manufacturing-related issues.
So here are two online polls. The first simply asks who the best candidate is from a manufacturing perspective, and the second lists a variety of manufacturing-related issues and opportunities and asks which are most important. Below the polls is a listing of the candidates and what I could find in terms of their positions on manufacturing and trade. Some is rather nebulous, which I guess in effect says something in itself. I’ll create links to these polls on the left side of the blog so they are easy to find later. I’ve done my best to keep my personal views out of this post; in fact, some of the information in the descriptions comes from websites with diametrically opposed perspectives. I’ll eventually decide what to do when candidates drop out or the race solidifies after February 5th.
Here is the information on the candidates, in apolitical alphabetical order. If anyone has more specific manufacturing-related issues information, please let me know.
Joe Biden (D)
Biden has voted for some trade agreements, but he has steadfastly voted against recent agreements covering Central America, Oman, the Dominican Republic, Singapore and Chile. He also has been fighting to retain manufacturing jobs in Delaware by working with other officials to keep Chrysler’s Newark plant open and save 2,100 jobs. He has lobbied Chrysler to keep the plant open, meeting with company officials and writing a letter on the plant’s behalf. He also has proposed legislation to help make the plant, and Chrysler, more competitive. Biden’s legislation includes $500 million for research and development of advanced battery technology for hybrid vehicles and a raise on the cap of the number of hybrid vehicles that would be eligible for consumer tax credits.
Michael Bloomberg (I, not declared)
"We are launching a comprehensive industrial policy that involves designing new business zones and creating new incentives to encourage long-term investment in manufacturing, warehousing and other industrial businesses throughout the five boroughs,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “As I said in the State of the City, we are committed to diversifying our economy in order to create opportunity and jobs for all New Yorkers. Over the past half century, the City’s industrial base has declined, along with many other American cities, but the industry remains a powerful engine of our economy and its 500,000 jobs represent about 15% of our workforce. We believe that our new industrial initiatives will stem this tide and grow our manufacturing sector." Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced the creation of the Mayor’s Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses to support New York City’s industrial sector. The Office will manage the creation of new Industrial Business Zones (IBZs), in addition to carrying out a number of initiatives to assist the manufacturing sector such as relocation tax credits, enhanced sanitation services and employee training programs.
Hillary Clinton (D)
Clinton voted against CAFTA and a trade agreement with the Dominican Republic, but she voted for trade agreements with Oman, Singapore and Chile. Clinton voted against renewing Fast Track authority in 2002. "One of the reasons I voted against CAFTA is that we should never ever enter into a labor agreement in the 21st century that does not have labor and environmental standards in trade. We’ve got to enforce the trade agreements that are already on the books, something that this administration refuses to do. That is why we cannot grant Thailand access to the U.S. auto market. You know, we are in the position we find ourselves today—where we are losing good paying jobs, where wages are stagnant, where people are losing health care and pension security, and where we have a government that wants to undo the work of the 20th century…. And it just reinforced, for me, that whatever is wrong with American manufacturing can be fixed by doing what is right with American manufacturing and putting people in charge who know how to do that. "We have competitive advantages that nobody in the world has. We have a strong, flexible, hard-working, experienced workforce. We just have to unleash you to be able to be competitive. We have a real commitment to innovation, but we don’t get any support from our government on that front."
Chris Dodd (D)
Dodd has voted against recent trade agreements including CAFTA and trade agreements with Oman, Dominican Republic, Singapore and Chile. In 2002, he offered an amendment to Fast Track trade-promotion authority legislation requiring U.S. trade negotiators to seek workers’ rights standards and enforcement provisions in future agreements.
John Edwards (D)
Edwards opposes a proposed trade deal with South Korea, which he says would be bad for the U.S. auto industry, and wants to see real labor standards in future trade agreements. "We need trade that works for American workers, which means there need to be real labor standards, real environmental standards…."As a U.S. senator, Edwards voted against trade agreements with Singapore and Chile. He also supported an amendment to Fast Track trade-promotion authority legislation to require U.S. trade negotiators to seek workers’ rights standards and enforcement provisions in future trade agreements, equal to those negotiated in the U.S.-Jordan agreement.
Rudy Giuliani (R)
Giuliani, who previously opposed NAFTA, now says he supports free trade: "We no longer have separation between a domestic economy and a global economy. It’s one in the same thing. And I generally agree with the principles of free trade and …increasingly have become more convinced of those principles because I almost think they are inevitable. If we fight them, we hurt ourselves. If we embrace them, we kind of move to the future." "Over the last 10 to 15 years, I’ve become more and more convinced that globalization, free market economics, is the way to go for the United States." He also said tackling the trade imbalance with China is "an agenda for the past." "Sen. Hillary Clinton was on the CNBC network a few weeks ago. She talked about limiting the foreign purchases of U.S. government bonds aimed especially at China. She also talked about taking some action to limit the U.S. trade deficit. Generally a bad idea and generally self-defeating. And certainly not an agenda for the future, kind of an agenda for the past. It’s a way of trying to keep yourself in the past, lock yourself in the past. The best way to deal with the global economy is to take advantage of it in an aggressive way, in an optimistic way. Let’s build industries that we can sell in this—in this—in this new part of the world where we have a growing number of consumers."
Mike Gravel (D)
NAFTA has been a "disaster," according to Gravel. "NAFTA has been a disaster for the working class of both the U.S. and Mexico and has been a godsend for corporations. A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that through 2004 over 1,000,000 U.S. jobs were lost as a result of NAFTA, a third of them manufacturing jobs. In Mexico, 1.3 million farm workers lost their jobs in the same period. This has led to a wave of immigrant workers looking for work in the U.S. job market. "Major structural changes must be made to NAFTA in order to restore lost jobs. Reforming unfair trade policies will stimulate job growth on both sides of the border and allow Mexican workers to remain in their motherland. We must make fair trade a priority if we are to rebuild the American middle class."
Mike Huckabee (R)
Huckabee has expressed some skepticism about free trade in his recent campaigning in New Hampshire. "[Huckabee] said strengthening economic prospects would additionally require tougher trade negotiations, because ‘there is no free trade without fair trade.’ …The U.S., for example, granted in 2000 Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China and arguably placing the country at a disadvantage. International competitors are not meeting the same wage structures, environmental and health and safety standards, and economic models of foreign competitors are undermining standards in this country, he said. The companies based in the United States have to face litigation, treat workers fairly and meet ethical standards of practice. The United States needs tougher negotiations to ensure competitors meet these standards, and the soft power of tariffs and sanctions could be used, he said."
Duncan Hunter (R)
Hunter supported the free trade agreement with Oman, but voted against CAFTA and the Chile and Singapore agreements. He also voted against the final conference version of Fast Track authority in 2002. When Hunter announced his run for the presidency, he said his candidacy "would emphasize his support for the war in Iraq, his opposition to abortion and his belief in free trade.” He said he would also emphasize the need to restore the balance of trade with China. ‘This is not free trade, this is not fair trade, ‘ Mr. Hunter said according to the text of his speech. ‘It is cheating.’ ” Hunter also used the "cheating" theme in accusing a high-level delegation to Beijing led by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke of appeasement
Dennis Kucinich (D)
Kucinich is a vocal opponent of free trade policies and job exporting. He opposed CAFTA, Fast Track authority and trade agreements with Oman, Chile and Singapore. "I have traveled across America. And I have seen the effects of agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA: padlocked gates of abandoned factories, grass growing in parking lots of places where workers used to make steel, used to make washing machines, used to make textiles, used to make machine parts. "Free trade has meant freedom for the American worker to stand in the unemployment line while their jobs were traded away. So-called free trade has brought broken dreams, broken homes, broken hearts to the American manufacturing worker. Trade without equity is tyranny. Trade without economic justice is theft. Trade without integrity, without workers’ rights, without human rights, without environmental principles is not worthy of a free people." (Kucinich advocates the end of NAFTA and the World Trade Organization to protect workers and the environment.
John McCain (R)
In an appearance in Miami’s Little Havana, McCain said that as president “he would work on political, diplomatic and economic fronts to counter the rise of socialism, including efforts to spread free trade.” In the Senate, McCain voted for Fast Track trade authority. He also voted in favor of CAFTA, as well as free-trade agreements with Singapore, Chile, Oman and Australia. McCain voted to normalize trade relations with China and Vietnam and voted against the Schumer-Graham bill, which would have imposed tariffs on China as a penalty for currency manipulation. In 2001, McCain voiced concern that Congress was showing "hostility" toward corporate-driven trade. In a statement praising the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement, McCain said: "Indeed, it has seemed as though free trade is no longer a priority of this body. In addition to the strategic significance of this legislation to U.S.-Jordanian relations, it is my hope that passage of this bill represents a change in the direction this Congress will take toward a policy of free trade that has upheld our prosperity and advanced our values around the world."
Barack Obama (D)
Obama voted against CAFTA but for the Oman Free Trade Agreement. He said he opposed CAFTA because workers are not getting help dealing with the negative effects of the corporate-driven global economy. "I wish I could vote in favor of CAFTA. In the end, I believe that expanding trade and breaking down barriers between countries is good for our economy and for our security, for American consumers and American workers.…I meet these workers all across Illinois, workers whose jobs moved to Mexico or China and are now competing with their own children for jobs that pay 7 bucks an hour. In town meetings and union halls, I’ve tried to tell these workers the truth—that these jobs aren’t coming back, that globalization is here to stay and that they will have to train more and learn more to get the new jobs of tomorrow. But when they wonder how they will get this training and this education, when they ask what they will do about their health care bills and their lower wages and the general sense of financial insecurity that seems to grow with each passing day, I cannot look them in the eyes and tell them that their government is doing a single thing about these problems. That is why I won’t vote for CAFTA."
Ron Paul (R)
Paul says he backs free trade—meaning free of what he calls government interference—but opposes many trade agreements. He voted against CAFTA and free-trade agreements with Oman, Singapore and Chile. In an opinion piece on his views of CAFTA, Paul wrote: "I oppose CAFTA for a very simple reason: It is unconstitutional….We don’t need government agreements to have free trade. We merely need to lower or eliminate taxes on the American people, without regard to what other nations do….CAFTA and other international trade agreements do not represent free trade. Free trade occurs in the absence of government interference in the flow of goods, while CAFTA represents more government in the form of an international body."
Bill Richardson (D)
As U.N. ambassador under President Bill Clinton, Richardson represented the administration’s view that free trade could ultimately be a positive thing for the country. In a speech at Denver’s Annual Free Trade Dinner: “Richardson warned…against the threat of passivism in the face of global opportunities and challenges, and emphasized the growing importance of free trade, both to Americans and the world at large….’We must be willing to embrace, not selfishly evade, the responsibilities and obligations that the imperative of American leadership entails,’ Ambassador Richardson told the several hundred guests. To do so, ‘we must do more to seize the opportunity and the limitless possibilities that free trade and global engagement represents for the American people.’" But Richardson supports stronger enforcements for wage disparity and worker and environmental protection.
Mitt Romney (R)
Romney advocates unrestricted trade. "We have to keep our markets open or we go the way of Russia and the Soviet Union, which is a collapse. And I recognize there are some people who will argue for protectionism because the short-term benefits sound pretty good, but long term you kill your economy, you kill the future."
Tom Tancredo (R)
Tancredo voted against the Oman Free Trade agreement, CAFTA and the Singapore and Chile trade agreements. He has tied his opposition to trade agreements to his stance on immigration: "Falling U.S. taxes on imported products and slowly crumbling foreign barriers to U.S. commerce have provided a number of benefits for Americans and American businesses.… Unfortunately however, it isn’t all good news. Many recent trade agreements have done far more than just phase out high U.S. taxes on imports and open new markets for U.S. businesses—a lot more. In fact, the primary ‘import’ American trade negotiators seem concerned with these days is foreign workers."
Fred Thompson (R)
In the Senate, Thompson had a record of supporting so-called “free trade” agreements. He voted for Fast Track trade authority and for trade relations with China. He also voted to kill an amendment that would have required future trade agreements to have enforceable standards for workers’ rights.