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Time to pay a little more attention to China

The Broder/Eilperin story in yesterday's Post -- To Some in GOP, Bush's Troubles Become a Liability (washingtonpost.com) -- didn't quite deliver all that the headline promised. But in its interviews with Republican members of Congress, the following jumped out:

In most instances, the jobs picture -- and especially the loss of U.S. jobs to China (and to Mexico, to a lesser extent) -- was the first and main issue raised by these Republican lawmakers in recent interviews.

"I think [Secretary of Commerce Donald L.] Evans and the administration are finally getting it, that we are in an economic war with China and if we lose that war, winning in Iraq is not going to mean that much." -- Rep. Phil Gingrey

Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (R-Ohio), a fellow Midwesterner, is also worried.
"We have a lot of machine shop owners, first- and second-generation Americans, and they are concerned," he said. "They see some signs of the economy improving, but they see a lot of tool-and-die trade going to China. They're concerned that in a few years, they will be servicing the equipment, not making it."

Suddenly, this is the sound of 1988. Even though the economy was a powerful issue, it seemed that the trade dimension of it had almost disappeared, except for the anti-WTO crusaders. This is a big change, and not one that most of the Democrats are prepared to take advantage of, with one exception. (Hint: "It's Your Fight, Too!)

Posted by Mark Schmitt on October 22, 2003 | Permalink


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