“I could be entirely wrong but I think we’re not likely to see something like the coup in the Soviet Union last August I think it’s just going to happen. It’s gonna evolve. To the point where you wake up one day and look around and you can’t find a Communist with a flashlight.”
–Mitch McConnell, on China, in 1992.
It’s July 4th Weekend! Let’s celebrate America and American Independence by celebrating Mitch McConnell and all he’s done to help… China.
Those pants are a red menace, Chairman Mitch.
Two months ago, the Beatyville Enterprise asked Mitch McConnell what he would do to bring jobs to Lee County. McConnell’s response was simple and to the point: “That is not my job.”
Appearing in Beattyville, McConnell was asked by The Beattyville Enterprise what he was going to do to bring jobs to Lee County.
“Economic development is a Frankfort issue,” McConnell said. “That is not my job. It is the primary responsibility of the state Commerce Cabinet.”
Economic development, according to Mitch McConnell, is not one of his responsibilities as a United States Senator. Creating jobs in Kentucky is the duty of folks in Frankfort, not Mitch McConnell. Creating jobs in another country, on the other hand…
When the issue of Mitch McConnell and China comes up, many people make the mistake of conflating Mitch’s problem with Mitch’s wife, Elaine Chao, and this has led to racist and stupid attacks that serve only to distract from the actual issue of Mitch McConnell’s China problem. The fact that Ms. Chao’s family hails from a country that could, at any moment, be invaded by its Communist neighbor has nothing to do with Mitch’s China problem — and indeed if you came here hoping to read such an attack, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
When the Obama administration announced its new EPA rules on carbon emissions at the beginning of June, Mitch McConnell said: “This is the single worst blow to Kentucky’s economy in modern times.”
Even if we ignore reports that under the EPA’s new rules Kentucky could actually expand its carbon output, Mitch McConnell’s claim is not just false, it’s foolish.
In backing up his claim that the new EPA regs would be “the single worst blow to Kentucky’s economy in modern times,” Mitch said, “We’ve lost 7,000 coal mining jobs so far in Kentucky during the Obama years.”
Mitch McConnell has served as Kentucky’s Senator for the past 30 years. When Mitch McConnell took office three decades ago, there were 36,814 coal mining jobs. By 2012, there were 14,083 coal mining jobs. [link, link]
To be more clear:
We’ve lost over 22,700 coal mining jobs so far in Kentucky during the McConnell years.
While Mitch McConnell seems perturbed that over the past six years — his own most recent term in office — 7,000 jobs have been lost, that’s nothing compared to what happened under Ronald Reagan. Between 1980 and 1988, Kentucky lost almost 16,000 coal mining jobs.
That’s not all. Under George H. W. Bush – a period spanning McConnell’s 1st and 2nd terms in office — Kentucky lost another 6,000 jobs in just four years. During McConnell’s 2nd and 3rd terms, or the Clinton years, Kentucky lost another 8,000 coal jobs.
In fact, the only time during Mitch McConnell’s entire career as Kentucky’s Senator that coal mining jobs increased was under George W. Bush and even then, it was only an increase of about 1,500 jobs. [link]
Judging by these numbers and based on Mitch McConnell’s own reasoning, the single worst blow to Kentucky’s economy came under Ronald Reagan.
But even that — because it’s still based on Mitch McConnell’s own reasoning — is false. If you were to judge “the single worst blow to Kentucky’s economy” by the number of jobs lost, one clear culprit is China and Mitch McConnell has long served as one of Communist China’s chief champions.
JULY 4th FUN FACT:
The bulk of U.S. fireworks are imported from China to the tune of $203.6 million in 2013. [link]
In 2001, China entered the World Trade Organization. Throughout the 1990s, Mitch McConnell was a leading voice advocating for normalized trade relations with China.
From 2001 to 2011, the state of Kentucky lost 44,100 jobs, many of them in manufacturing, to China. At the same time, the free trade Mitch McConnell pushed for with the promise that it would help our economy has created just 8,400 jobs over the same period. The total number of Kentucky jobs lost to China due to the opening of trade between 2001 and 2011 was 35,700. [link]
Thanks to policies pushed directly by Mitch McConnell, Kentucky’s lost more jobs to China in just the past 10 years than it’s lost in the declining coal market over the last three decades.
KENTUCKY COAL JOBS LOST
IN THE McCONNELL YEARS (1984-2012)
KENTUCKY JOBS LOST TO TRADE WITH CHINA
IN THE McCONNELL YEARS (2001-2011)
If you were looking for the single worst blow to Kentucky’s economy in modern times, it’s likely that the China free trade deal Mitch McConnell spent the 1990s pushing for is it. While McConnell waves his arms about the 7,000 coal jobs lost in the past six years, his advocacy of trade with China has cost Kentucky five times as many jobs in just four more years.
This is Mitch McConnell’s record — and yet, he seems ashamed to run on it.
Attacking Mitch McConnell over the jobs Kentucky has lost due to his push for unconditional free trade with China is nothing new. The DSCC hit Mitch over it, and other trade agreements, in a TV ad in 2008:
And the Grimes campaign is already going after Mitch on the issue as well. In her jobs plan released in January, Grimes lashes Mitch over jobs lost to China [link]:
I believe we can do more to ensure that Kentucky businesses and workers can compete successfully with China. Mitch McConnell does not think that the growing trade deficit with China is a problem. I couldn’t disagree more. Between 2001 and 2011, the U.S. trade deficit with China alone displaced or eliminated 35,700 Kentucky jobs.
During the same period, this trade deficit cost the U.S. 2.1 million manufacturing jobs, more than half of all manufacturing jobs lost.
The McConnell folks are obviously worried about such attacks. Their totally non-allied Super PAC, Kentuckians for Strong Leadership responded to some of Grimes’ claims with a research document and web video that pitted Grimes against Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. Their point was a muddy one — basically, Grimes says Kentucky’s lost lots of jobs while McConnell’s been in the US Senate (which is true) and yet, according to Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, what Grimes says can’t be true because Steve Beshear has simultaneously touted the creation and repatriation of jobs to Kentucky.
How this argument helps the McConnell campaign is unclear. It is not just possible that Kentucky lost tremendous numbers of jobs under Mitch McConnell’s 30 years in office yet has gained some jobs under Steve Beshear’s last few, it is also accurate.
More to the point: The jobs Beshear touts and that Kentuckians for Strong Leadership trots out as a rebuttal to Grimes were created in Frankfort, not by Mitch McConnell. As you will recall, creating jobs in Kentucky is not actually Mitch McConnell’s job.
“Economic development is a Frankfort issue,” McConnell said. “That is not my job. It is the primary responsibility of the state Commerce Cabinet.”
So when Grimes says Kentucky lost jobs under McConnell’s “strong leadership” that has little to do, by Mitch’s own argument, with the fact that Beshear has been able to bring some jobs back.
FUN FACTS ABOUT “KENTUCKIANS FOR STRONG LEADERSHIP”
Kentuckians for Strong Leadership was founded by Scott Jennings, longtime Karl Rove deputy and a former McConnell aide.
Three quarters of the money Kentuckians for Strong Leadership raised in the first half of last year came from the same people who fund Karl Rove’s American Crossroads Super PAC. [link]
Just 2% of the money Kentuckians for Strong Leadership raised in the first half of 2013 actually came from people in Kentucky. [link]
And in the second half of 2013, none of the money raised by Kentuckians for Strong Leadership came from people in Kentucky. [link]
In her jobs plan, Alison Lundergan Grimes promises that as Senator she would address China’s currency manipulation. Citing an Economic Policy Institute study, the Grimes jobs plan argues that correcting China’s manipulation would create 4.7 million jobs.
Indeed, China’s currency manipulation is one of the major causes of the ballooning of the US trade deficit with China since 2001 and thus a major cause of the 35,700 jobs Kentucky has lost thanks to the policies Mitch McConnell has spent two decades advocating. EPI explains:
While the value of its currency should have increased as China exported more and more goods, it has instead remained artificially low, and China has aggressively acquired dollars to further depress the value of its own currency. China has tightly pegged its currency to the U.S. dollar at a rate that encourages a large bilateral surplus with the United States. China had to purchase $453 billion in U.S. treasury bills and other securities between December 2008 and December 2009, alone, to maintain this peg. China has acquired a total of $2.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves as of December 2009. About 70% of these reserves are held in U.S. dollars. This intervention makes the yuan artificially cheap relative to the dollar, effectively subsidizing Chinese exports. The best estimates place this effective subsidy at roughly 40% of the U.S. dollar, even after recent appreciation in the yuan. Currency intervention also artificially raises the cost of U.S. exports to China by a similar amount, making U.S. goods less competitive in that country.
In a fascinating window into the inner-thoughts of the McConnell campaign, Team Mitch this past February put out an “infographic” titled “Follow the Leader” in which they suggested that Alison Lundergan Grimes was ripping off the ideas of Mitch McConnell.
Here’s how they put it on the Team Mitch Facebook page:
Alison Grimes is playing “follow the leader” because she knows that Mitch’s proven leadership is working for all Kentuckians. But don’t just take our word for it, check out this infographic which highlights the difference between leadership and campaign rhetoric.
The logic in the argument is interesting. Alison knows Mitch’s leadership is working and that’s why she’s copying him and so if you look at their info graphic you’ll see the difference between them. According to Mitch, Grimes is unfit for office because she shares his policy platforms.
The Facebook post itself links to a page that no longer exists – http://www.teammitch.com/follow_the_leader – and thus the infographic they teased also seems to have been disappeared from the McConnell site:
But were Mitch’s info graphic still on Mitch’s site, you’d be able to see that it ended with Mitch’s take on China and how Alison had supposedly copied it, and that Mitch — according to Mitch — has already lead the way on curbing China’s currency manipulation:
Mitch McConnell sponsored legislation in 2012 that protected over 1,150 Kentucky jobs that would have otherwise been negatively affected by Chinese trade practices. Mitch McConnell cosponsored legislation that would have required the Secretary of the Treasury to take action against countries engaging in currency manipulation.
Again: The McConnell campaign’s argument against Grimes is that she’s just like him and thus you shouldn’t vote for her.
While you ponder that, ponder this: The McConnell campaign claims that in 2012, the Kentucky Senator sponsored legislation that protected 1,150 jobs that would be affected by Chinese trade practices and that he co-sponsored legislation that would have required the Secretary of the Treasury to take action against countries engaging in currency manipulation.
Sounds promising. McConnell did help pass a bill in 2012 that was signed into law by President Barack Obama and which helped save jobs across the country and in Kentucky. Barack Obama said of the bill:
“I just signed a bill to help American companies that are facing unfair foreign competition,” the president said. “These companies employ tens of thousands of Americans in nearly 40 states. Because of subsidies from foreign governments, some of their foreign competitors are selling products at an artificially low price. That needs to stop.”
That’s a good achievement, and Mitch has a right to be proud of it… but it’s 1,100 jobs saved against his own record of exporting over 35,000 jobs to China.
McConnell further contention, that he pushed for a bill to take action against countries involved in currency manipulation, is more troubling. In 2011, Mitch McConnell actually tried to block legislation that would target China’s currency manipulation.
McConnell’s reputation as the “Guardian of Gridlock” is so well known, that’s what he calls himself.
“Some of the proudest moments in my own career that I can think of are thing’s that I’ve stopped.” –Mitch McConnell.
Mitch McConnell’s filibustered so many bills over the past three decades that in 2012 he finally filibustered himself. So it’s not surprising that when the US Senate got close to passing a bill on China’s currency manipulation, Mitch McConnell was out front trying to filibuster it.
But on this occasion, Mitch got stymied. McConnell’s attempt to filibuster the bill that would’ve force the US Treasury to address China’s currency manipulation was broken by his fellow Republican, Lindsey Graham.
Graham had harsh words for McConnell’s fixation on blocking legislation rather than focusing on the primary job of a US Senator, protecting America’s workforce:
Graham punctured a hole in McConnell’s strategy by shaming any lawmaker that would vote against moving forward on the China bill.
“Enough is enough,” Graham said. “I am sorry the amendment process around this place is so screwed up.
“I try to be a team player where I can be, because I believe Senator McConnell is doing a very good job. Senator Reid has got his agenda [but] it is not about Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell. It is about people in my state who will lose their job if we don’t do something,” Graham said.
Graham said he is tired of partisan squabbles over procedure, and urged his colleagues to act.
“The institution I need to be protecting is the American workforce, who is having their clock cleaned by a communist dictatorship who cheats,” Graham said.
Days later, the bill Mitch couldn’t stop passed the United States Senate over McConnell’s vehement objection:
On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill that would require the Treasury Department to order the Commerce Department to impose tough tariffs on certain Chinese goods in the event of a finding by the Treasury that China was improperly valuing its currency to gain an economic advantage.
The measure passed 63 to 35, with 16 Republican votes, an unusual dynamic in the Democrat-controlled Senate. It enjoyed rare support from members of both parties despite the strong disapproval of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, who pressed his party colleagues to vote against it.
Lindsey Graham blasted McConnell for not standing up to “a communist dictatorship who cheats” but he shouldn’t be surprised. McConnell’s never really stood up to China’s communist dictatorship – and that’s Mitch McConnell’s China problem.
JULY 4th FUN FACT
The United States imported $4 million in U.S. flags last year, 97 percent of which came from China. [link]
Mitch McConnell spent most of the 1990s fighting for ‘permanent normal trade relation status’ with Communist China. In 2000, McConnell voted for that status and China was finally granted the PNTR. That helped pave the way for the WTO, the following year, to admit China into its ranks.
Of course, Mitch McConnell is hardly alone working to outsource the US economy to China. Lots of politicians on both sides of the aisle have done so, working together to deliver us to this place where the US trade deficit with China has grown from $10 Billion in 1990 to over $300 Billion today. [link]
“It’s not a huge problem,” Mitch McConnell told the Kentucky Post in 2006 in response to a question about the US trade deficit with China. “If you want to hold inflation down and if American consumers want high-quality goods at low prices, then the global economy is for you.”
And then McConnell hinted at his problem:
“The flip side of that is we want the Chinese market to be open … we want the global economy to be a two-way winner.”
Mitch McConnell’s China Problem isn’t just that he’s been complicit in making today’s complete imbalance happen. And Mitch McConnell’s China Problem isn’t only that his policies have lead to a lost of over 35,000 jobs in Kentucky. No, Mitch McConnell’s problem is bigger than that.
Not only does Mitch McConnell seem to unable to understand what’s happening, he’s been horrifically wrong about China and the effect of Free Trade from the beginning.
In 1992, McConnell argued that opening up trade with China would engage the Communist giant and lead to political reforms.
And McConnell went even further. Mitch McConnell said that America’s opening of trade with China would lead to a dramatic moment where “one day you wake up and you can’t find a Communist with a flashlight.”
Mitch McConnell’s China Problem is that he was wrong on China in 1992, and he’s been wrong about it ever since. McConnell’s justification for growing China’s economy was that it would help our own (it’s cost three million jobs) and that it would topple China’s Communist government (it hasn’t).
Two decades after Mitch said that and three decades after he took office, China’s Communist Party maintains its hold on that country and now, thanks to Mitch McConnell’s three decades of effort to grow China’s economy, they maintain a level of control over ours.
Happy Independence Day!
Mitch McConnell says it’s “not my job” to bring jobs to Kentucky and he says the trade deficit with China that’s led to over 35,000 jobs leaving Kentucky is “not a huge problem.”
Mitch McConnell also says, “I could be entirely wrong” and, unfortunately, he was.
“Again I could be entirely wrong but I think we’re not likely to see something like the coup in the Soviet Union last August I think it’s just going to happen. It’s gonna evolve. To the point where you wake up one day and look around and you can’t find a Communist with a flashlight.”