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Clinton's briefing recalls failure on China trade

WASHINGTON -- It was an out-of-body experience to see Bill Clinton lecture the White House briefing room on why passing a law that undermines the revenue stream for Social Security, grows the deficit by $800 billion and cuts the estate tax is good for us.

Clinton hadn't grabbed that golden podium for a decade. As one of his major final acts of 2000 -- not counting his pardons -- Clinton ladled out assurances on the benefits of the China trade bill that he wanted so badly.

But Clinton as panting cheerleader for Obama is no more reliable than was Clinton the president 10 years ago. He promised that lifting import taxes against China would "narrow our trade deficit" with the dictatorship.

It would grow our employment and exports, Clinton said. We would be selling them electronics and services, he insisted. Clinton and his predecessor assured Americans it would lead to "constructive engagement" with Red China on human rights.

The state's two Democratic senators, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and freshman Charles E. Schuman voted for "normalized" trade relations with China. Wall Street wanted it.

After that, we shed nearly 6 million manufacturing jobs, as of 2009. Robert E. Scott of the Economic Policy Institute forecast that America's growing goods deficit with China would cost the U.S. more than 500,000 new jobs this year.

The "Made in China" label on your Christmas presents symbolizes the single largest ongoing cause of private unemployment, government deficits and the failure of stimulus programs. EPI's Scott, a liberal, and Peter Morici, a conservative economist at the University of Maryland, agree there will be no recovery as long as this disparity continues.

It is one thing to be gullible enough to open the door in 2000 to this rape of the American economy. Betrayal is not too strong a term to describe the willingness of the Obama administration and the U.S. Senate to fail to fix this trade imbalance when they can.

All competent authorities say that not only does China cheat by subsidizing its exports, and cheat by blocking U.S. goods and services, but it skews its currency so that its exports cost 40 percent less than they should. Schumer for five years sponsored bills penalizing China with import taxes until they stop manipulating their currency. No doubt, it was Schumer's influence that helped persuade Obama to jawbone Chinese leaders about it. Yet Obama, no more than his predecessor, has the patriotism to formally label the Chinese as currency manipulators -- the first step in imposing sanctions already in the law.

For the first time, Western New York has somebody in Congress, Rep. Chris Lee, R-Clarence, who will openly and successfully attack China's currency games. As a freshman, Lee worked to get a sanctions bill passed last fall. It went to the Senate Finance Committee, where Schumer is a member, and died there.

Commenting, Schumer essentially blamed Obama for not supporting the legislation. Schumer can work harder. Lee told me he will get the bill passed again in the new Congress.

All the promises Clinton made on China backfired. "Constructive engagement?" China's dissident Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo, is in jail. Chinese cops barricaded his wife and family into their homes so they could not attend the ceremony. The regime bullied 18 nations, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan, into boycotting the award.

Last week, a Chinese diplomat told critics of the Nobel boycott to "shut their mouths." This goes along with China's gangsterism in forcing loyal Catholics to attend the consecration of a fake bishop.

If they act and talk like thugs, why won't Washington stand up to them? Scott told me Wall Street's influence is in the way. U.S. business has "half a trillion dollars invested in Chinese facilities," Scott says.

e-mail: dturner@buffnews.com

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