A China trade war in the NY-23 House race?

Is trade with China the first major salvo in the NY-23 congressional race?

Rep. Bill Owens, the Democrat from Plattsburgh, is calling out Republican leaders in the House for failing to call a vote on a bill that would demand fair currency standards from our trading partners.

“Fair trade is critical to economic growth in Upstate New York, and when one country artificially deflates its currency to gain leverage on a capitalist world market, there is nothing fair about it, ” Owens said in a release.

“When America’s trade partners play by the rules, we will see a recovery in American exports and American jobs.”

Owens’ statement cites a report from the Economic Policy Institute, claiming that if all Asian countries allowed their currencies to rise and fall in value — in the same way the dollar does — it would lead to the recovery of 2.2 million jobs in the US.

Republican Matt Doheny, the Watertown businessman and former Wall Street banker who hopes to challenge Owens in November 2012, fired back:

“Bill Owens’s eagerness to spark a trade war with China proves he is out of his depth. This bill is another anti-business measure that will result in higher prices for north country consumers.

It will also limit markets for our north country farmers and businesses – or force their prices so high in those markets that they would not be competitive.”

Doheny argues that a trade war between China and the US would close markets to American goods and allow countries from other nations to move in.

For what it’s worth, the New York Times editorial page sides with Doheny on this one.  The Times chastises China for manipulating its currency unfairly, but argues that this bill would “do even more damage to the American economy if — as is all too likely — China decides to retaliate.”

So what do you think?  Is it time to make the Chinese play fair?  Or is this too shaky a moment, in economic terms, to play chicken with the national that manufactures most of the stuff we buy?

Tags: , ,

16 Comments on “A China trade war in the NY-23 House race?”

  1. Peter Hahn says:

    Doheny’s argument doesnt make sense. The whole point of getting the Chinese to let their currency float naturally is so we can export more stuff to them (and import less). Their workers get paid more (what they are paid is worth more) so they can buy our stuff and dont take as many jobs from us.

    And provoking a trade war hurting the north country??? We export to China??

  2. Peter Hahn says:

    Although he (Doheny) is correct to state that allowing the Chinese currency to float would raise consumer prices for North Country consumers. Chinese labor would be more expensive, so stuff made in China would be more expensive. (And maybe they could start making more stuff here).

  3. JDM says:

    It’s time to play chicken.

    However, it takes a strong leader to win a game of chicken.

    China has us beat until we get ourselves a leader to can win a game of stare-down.

  4. PNElba says:

    Yeah, we need a leader who can help us compete against China. Not republican congressmen, like Rep. Stearns, who state that the USA cannot compete with China so we shouldn’t even try. You can lead a horse to water but…….


  5. Mike Flynn says:

    Since the article mentions the times, I thought I’d mention my Op-Ed comment in the New Yourk Times, from 12-09-10. It shows how little has changed and how Matt Doheny still fails to see the connection between fair trade with China and Jobs. He’s very slow on the up-take, and is not qualified to be a Congressman.

    Mike Flynn
    Black River, NY 13612
    November 19th, 2010

    In the Mid-Term election disinformation by the Republican and Tea-Parties, attempted to persuade us that job creation was not something government really could devote itself to. That job creation itself was simply put the by-product of an economically vibrant private sector in a profit driven free market system. Of course the IPO for GM, a Corp. that was recently saved by Pres. Obama and the American tax payer refute that notion entirely. A million jobs were saved by government stepping in to aid a failing corporation. We live in an age of failing Corporations, Banks, Financial Service Houses, etc. but the disinformation put out in NNY this election spoke to people who are addicted to free stuff. We were told that representatives like Darrel Aubertine, who won their districts desperately needed earmark monies were the problem. The problem wasn’t really the catastrophic economic conditions brought about by the financial rape of Americans, by Wall Street and the Banking Industry. You add in the blank check that China has enjoyed in selling subsidized products in our country over the last two decades and is it any wonder jobs have vanished by the thousands in NYS. Policies on trade have been a disaster, which have served to undermine domestic verticals in NYS; where in the Paper Mill Industry alone, 4,400 jobs were lost in NYS alone and 440 were in NNY. Also companies like Alcoa, is another good example of our government failing to insist on fair trade practices to protect jobs here at home. China gets away with murder because they can hang the fact that they currently hold massive amounts of US currency in reserve, which they can dump on the world monetary market at anytime to undermine the value of the US dollar. Couple this with the fact that the Republicans want us to believe the Middle-Class no longer exists, and that Americans are selfish for believing they have a right to a standard of living thought to be a normal aspiration by my generation and you have the seeds for the biggest political backlash of my lifetime.

    Over the next two years Americans are going to see Republicans and Tea-party members for the mindless propagandists they really are, and voice their displeasure at the voting booth, for their lack of any program to effect positive changes that include jobs, or tax relief for the Middle-Class. So just continue saying ‘NO’ Republicans and Tea Party members so that in two years we can say ‘Good-bye’ and vote you out of office for idea barren protectors of the rich and vested interests you are every waking moment of your lives.

    Mike Flynn
    Middle-Class Mike

  6. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:


    Excellent editorial!

  7. Eyepublius says:

    Mr. Dohney is your typical rich guy who made it big on Wall Street and thinks he knows it all. He is strictly a GOP big business (the bigger the better) protector and defender. China and their currency (and other deals) are raping us one day at a time … Owens sees that clearly, and so do many of experts. Mr. Dohney does not. He is narrow-minded, a rabid GOP rightwing/TEA partisan, and weak on important issues. He is both out of touch and out of step.

    — Dan Francis (Watertown, NY) (in the middle of the 23d CD)

  8. Pete Klein says:

    Unlikely for a trade war to happen. If it did, we would lose.

  9. Peter Hahn says:

    I hope Doheny knows he’s spouting nonsense.

  10. Jake says:

    Rep. Bill Owens seems to want to reform our trade relations with China and make them more fair for Americans. Wannabe Rep. Matt Doheny seems to just want the status quo on this issue. To me Doheny is just another GOP big corporate protector and defender. We already have enough of those in Washington. Keep up the good work Rep. Owens.

  11. Scott says:

    Doheny only cares about himself and his personal agendas. Owens has helped me and the area he represents and will get my vote for certain.

  12. Peter Hahn says:

    The NY Times article does not support Doheny. Rather it argues that a congressional law would cause more harm than good because it is such a blunt instrument that is likely to be ineffective. But not by causing a trade war that would harm the North Country.

  13. jps4usa says:

    As Herman Cain has said, “We have a deficiency of leadership.” The current POTUS displays dim skills in dealing with China for he has sold his soul in exchange for ObamaCare. We need another Washington, Lincoln, Truman, or Reagan to deal with difficult & perplexing national problems.
    Until we have an authentic & strong leader at the top, China is going to drag us wherever they want us to go. They OWN us. But, like any bully, we can make them back down by not being intimidated, number one. Donald Trump has advised us to be tougher on China, and has recommended ways in which to deal with them. Roosevelt said it best, too. “Speak softly and carry a big stick…” Sadly, in President Obama, we only have the soft speech.

  14. scratchy says:

    Doheny is clueless and a supporter of outsourcing. The key to economic revival is to export more or import less, just like the Germans do. unless we start improving our balance of trade our economic future will be bleak.

  15. Jinnan Chen says:

    As a Chinese citizen currently lives in US, I would say please do play chicken. Not because this will fix any problems – it won’t since many jobs are already moving to lower cost countries like Vietnam anyway, and you cannot pass bills against every other country that has a lower cost than US, but because American is so weak and will eventually get hurt more than China with the trade wars.

    Think about that – in many states, like WA, CA, export to China is growing like crazy in the recently years. Domestic market in China expanded by huge after 2008 and they are so eager to buy American products, new middle class feels Made in USA is the way to go and is willing to pay high price for that. The slogans like Buy America is more effective in China, not in US. Any trade war will stop this from happening, and factories in China will turn to focus more on domestic market because they can still get the profit. How about Americans? Higher product price, less jobs. You can argue this may only last for a few years – and at that time, China already passed American as the #1 economy in the world, because we all know we(US) don’t have an effective congress to deal with what is happening quickly but China can.

    We will see.

  16. PNElba says:

    How is asking for fair trade a trade war?

Comments are closed.