Durbin, Hare push for tougher trade stance on China

By:  Kenneth Lowe
Herald Review

DECATUR - Speaking before a small gathering of local manufacturing workers, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Phil Hare called for the country to take an aggressive economic stance in their dealings with China and spoke about recent legislation that would impose tariffs on that country unless it changes its business practices.

"For too long, Republicans in Washington have forced through unfair trade deals that ship our jobs overseas," Hare said, seated alongside Durbin at the Allied Industrial Workers hall. "They stood by while trading partners like China bent the rules. We simply cannot afford these policies any more."

Hare and Durbin said China has been artificially and illegally keeping its currency's value low so it can easily outbid stateside manufacturers, which the Fair Trade Act recently passed by the House of Representatives aims to curb. The United States can't afford to underestimate China as a competitor, Durbin said.

"Some of you are old enough to remember, as I do, when we thought these Chinese people on their bicycles with their green-quilted jackets, and Mao Zedong and Chairman's Writings, and they may play a little ping-pong, and it's a backwards country and it's been closed to outsiders," Durbin said. "That image is gone. The Chinese are taking over in an aggressive fashion."

Durbin and Hare also called for penalizing businesses that ship jobs overseas and creating incentives for manufacturers to bring industrial jobs back stateside.

"If you decide to close a plant in the United States and ship that production and those jobs overseas, we're not going to give you a tax break to do that," Durbin said. "If your company wants to do it, do it at your own expense, not the expense of taxpayers."

Steve Moroney makes water and gas valves for Mueller Co. and currently serves as union president to its workers. After the brief meeting, he said the trade deficit between the United States and China is making it increasingly difficult for steelworkers like himself because it contributes to the scarcity of materials available to American manufacturers.

"The trade imbalance hurts us, because (Chinese companies) are buying everything up because they can afford it," Moroney said. "It's unfair the way they're manipulating their money to be able to outbid us on everything. They're getting all the work, so they're buying up all the materials also."