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Ensuring Ohio Workers Can Compete

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More than 200 days ago, the Senate passed a bipartisan jobs bill that could create or save two million jobs at no cost to taxpayers. Yet, the House of Representatives has refused to consider this common-sense legislation. Now is the time for the House of Representatives to act.

The bill addresses one of the biggest challenges facing Ohio manufacturers -- unfair competition from Chinese products that are flooding our markets, priced artificially low. And these products are priced too low because China cheats by manipulating its currency.

We know American workers and American manufacturers can compete with anyone. We have skilled, productive workers and world class infrastructure. But when a country like China purposefully manipulates its currency to make its exports cheaper, that's not competing--that's cheating.

And China's blatant currency manipulation -- the act of undervaluing its currency, the Yuan, to effectively subsidize its exports -- drives American companies out-of-business, costs Ohio jobs, and undermines our economy.

The numbers speak for themselves. Last year, the U.S. trade deficit with China reached a record $295 billion. In June alone, the deficit was $27.4 billion, nearly one billion each day. Furthermore, a report released last year estimates that our trade deficit with China, exacerbated by Chinese currency manipulation, has caused the loss of more than 2.8 million American jobs since 2001 -- including more than 1.9 million manufacturing jobs.

And Ohio alone has lost more than 100,000 of those manufacturing jobs just as a result of the Chinese trade deficit.

This is unconscionable. It is our responsibility to ensure that Ohio businesses and workers compete on a level playing field. We can do this with a common-sense trade policy that rejects currency manipulation and puts Ohio workers first.

That's why I introduced the bipartisan Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011. This bill, which cleared the Senate by a 63-35 vote, seeks to stop Chinese currency manipulation, ensuring a fair and level playing field for American manufacturers.

The centerpiece of the bill treats currency manipulation as what it is -- an unfair subsidy and an illegal trade practice -- and provides our government with the tools to impose duties on these products flooding our markets.

Ohio jobs can be created when trade laws are enforced. In fact, a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute showed that addressing currency manipulation could support the creation of 2.25 million American jobs. Americans workers don't need to cheat; our domestic manufacturers just need a chance to compete.

We know enforcing fair trade rules works, because we've already seen some positive results. For example, in 2010 the International Trade Commission (ITC), in response to a petition by Ohio steel tube producers, ruled that China was artificially supporting its steel manufacturers. Because of this ruling, V&M Star was able to compete with its Chinese competitors and announced it would build a new facility in Youngstown, Ohio -- creating 700 construction jobs and more than 400 good-paying, permanent jobs.

And while this is a good start, we can't stop here. Allowing Chinese currency manipulation to also be treated as an export subsidy would allow more industries -- from autos to clean energy -- to petition the Commerce Department and the ITC to stand up to unfair foreign imports. It could mean jobs for a number of industries -- from paper to tires to wind energy components to aluminum.

The best way to move America's economy forward -- and reduce our deficit -- is to make sure that every American who wants to work has a job. The federal government has a responsibility to ensure that Ohio's domestic manufacturers and small businesses can compete with the rest of the world.

My bipartisan bill is a jobs bill. It would help level the playing field for Ohio businesses and manufacturers and help spur our economic recovery. The Senate realized this, set aside partisan politics, and passed a bill that stands up for Ohio manufacturers and workers who have endured years of talking and no action for far too long. Now it's time for the House to do the same.

That's why I will continue to urge the House to confront China's unfair tactics, pass the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011, and help join the fight for American manufacturing.


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