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Democratic presidential contenders take aim at Trump trade policy

Increase font size  Decrease font size Date:2019-09-16   Views:77
Thursday night's Democratic Presidential Debate saw a smaller field of 10 remaining contenders, several of whom discussed steel and other tariffs, the impact on soybean trade, and China -- but mostly using the occasion to take shots at President Donald Trump's trade policy.

Moderator George Stephanopoulos said they had received more than 100 questions from viewers wanting to know how all the candidates would handle tariffs.
Businessman Andrew Yang said: "I would not repeal the tariffs on day one, but I would let the Chinese know that we need to hammer out a deal, because right now, the tariffs are pummeling producers and farmers in Iowa who have absolutely nothing to do with the imbalances that we have with China."

He added that "the imbalances are real," and "we have to let the Chinese know that we recognize that President Trump has pursued an arbitrary and haphazard trade policy that has had victims on both sides."

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said he would have a strategy that would include the tariffs as leverage, "but it's not about the tariffs. Look, what's going on right now is a president who has reduced the entire China challenge into a question of tariffs, when what we know is that the tariffs are coming down on us more than anybody else and there's a lack of a bigger strategy."

SPOTLIGHT ON STEEL TARIFFS
Stephanopoulos challenged Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar about her support of steel tariffs. Klobuchar defended steel tariffs, but said Trump's were misplaced.

"What we've got right now, though, George, it's not a focused tariff on steel," she said. "What he (Trump) has done here, he has assessed these tariffs on our allies. He has put us in the middle of this trade war and he is treating our farmers and our workers like poker chips in one of his bankrupt casinos. And if we are not careful, he is going to bankrupt this country."

Klobuchar pointed to one forecast recently that said tariffs have already cost the US 300,000 jobs.

"There are soybeans that are mounting up in bins all over the Midwest, in my state of Minnesota and in Iowa." She emphasized the need to go back to the negotiating table.

"That's what I would do," Klobuchar said. "I wouldn't have put all these tariffs in place."

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro agreed that "this erratic, haphazard trade war is hurting American families... It's estimated that it costs $600 to the average American family. Just a couple of days ago, 60% of Americans said that they believe that we're in for a recession next year."

Castro said that as president, he "would immediately begin to negotiate with China to ratchet down that trade war. We have leverage there."

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said trade policy in America "has been broken for decades, and it has been broken because it works for giant multinational corporations and not for much of anyone else."

Warren added: "I want to negotiate trade with unions at the table. I want to negotiate it with small farmers at the table. I want to negotiate it with environmentalists at the table. I want to negotiate with human rights activists at the table."

California Senator Kamala Harris said she is "not a protectionist Democrat."

"Look, we need to sell our stuff. And that means we need to sell it to people overseas," Harris said. "That means we need trade policies that allow that to happen."

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said that he and former Vice President Joe Biden "strongly disagree on trade." Sanders said he helped lead the opposition to NAFTA and PNTR, "which cost this country over 4 million good-paying jobs."

Sanders said: "Trump thinks that trade policy is a tweet at 3 o'clock in the morning. What we have got to do is develop a trade policy that represents workers, represents the farmers in the Midwest and elsewhere, who are losing billions right now because of Trump's policy, a trade policy which understands that if a company shuts down in America and goes abroad, and then thinks they're going to get on line to get a lucrative federal contract, under Bernie Sanders, they got another guess coming."

Biden responded that the US is "either going to make policy or China's going to make the rules of the road. We make up 25% of the world economy. We need another 25% to join us."

He agreed with Warren.

"At the table has to be labor and at the table have to be environmentalists," Biden said, adding that the problem with China is not the trade deficit, "the problem is they're stealing our intellectual property. The problem is they're violating the WTO (World Trade Organization). They're dumping steel on us. That's a different issue than whether or not they're dumping agricultural products on us."

Biden said the US needs to set the rules.

"And that's why you need to organize the world to take on China, to stop the corrupt practices that are underway," he said.

Senator Cory Booker maintained that "Donald Trump's America first policy is actually an America isolated, an America alone policy."

Booker said that on trade, Trump is not only taking on China, but at the same time is "taking on tariff battles with all of our allies. You literally have him using a national security waiver to put tariffs on Canada."

Drawing one of the biggest laughs of the evening, Booker added: "Now, look, I'm the only person on this stage [pointing to his bald head] that finds [Canadian Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau's hair very menacing, but they are not a national security threat."
 
 
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