03.14.2016 2

Will NAFTA vote, TPP support hurt Kasich in Ohio?


By Robert Romano

“If Kasich voted for NAFTA and Trump gets a hold of that, he will lose Ohio.”

That was independent pollster Pat Caddell on with Breitbart News executive chairman and host Stephen K. Bannon on Breitbart News Daily March 11, citing results from a survey he conducted on behalf of Americans for Limited Government on the international trade issue that could hurt Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich in the Ohio presidential primary Tuesday.

The poll showed 59 percent of Republicans agreeing that “Over last two decades, free trade agreements signed by the U.S. were more of a benefit to other countries.”

In 1993, when it came up, Kasich, then a member of the House of Representatives, voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

As recently as the January 14 Republican debate in South Carolina, Kasich proclaimed, “I’m a free trader. I support NAFTA. I believe in the PTT [sic] because it’s important those countries in Asia are interfacing against China.” Here, Kasich meant the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal now under consideration in Congress.

In the Caddell poll, 66 percent of Republicans opposed TPP once they found out what was in it, being presented with arguments for and against it.

Well, on Saturday, in Cleveland, rival Donald Trump hammered Kasich on the issue: “Your governor when he was a congressman voted for NAFTA… He’s now in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It is a disaster. It is going to ruin your car industry, totally ruin it, and believe me, that deal is very bad for a lot of reasons.”

Tuesday’s Ohio primary will tell if those positions will hurt him in his home state, but suffice to say, it probably doesn’t help. Ohio has lost more than 307,000 manufacturing jobs since NAFTA, a 31 percent drop, according to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Citizen.org.

At the more recent CNN Republican debate on March 10 in Florida, Kasich tried to sound slightly stronger on the issue, saying, “[M]y position has always been we want to have free trade, but fair trade. And I’ve been arguing all along that it is absolutely critical that when other countries break those agreements, we don’t turn the process over to some international bureaucrat who comes back a couple years later and says, ‘Oh, America was right,’ and people are out of work.”

Kasich called for an “expedited” process for handling trade disputes on the existing framework of agreements, but fell short of calling for their repeal, underscoring the strong support for the trade deals that exists among those who have served or are serving in Congress.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio argued vociferously in favor of free trade at the March 10 debate, saying, “I support free trade deals that are good for America. We’re 5 percent of the world’s population. If all we do is sell things to each other, we can only sell to 5 percent of the people on earth. We have to have access to the hundreds of millions of people in the world today who can afford to buy things.”

Texas Senator Ted Cruz for his part stated opposition of the TPP while praising free trade and yet blasting the current situation: “I opposed TPP and have always opposed TPP, which is what you asked about. And when it comes to trade, look, free trade, when we open up foreign markets, helps Americans. But we’re getting killed in international trade right now. And we’re getting killed because we have an administration that’s doesn’t look out for American workers and jobs are going overseas. We’re driving jobs overseas.”

For his part, Donald Trump remained opposed to TPP and other bad trade deals including permanent normal trade relations with China, calling for tariffs. “I will say, trade deals are absolutely killing our country. The devaluations of their currencies by China and Japan and many, many other countries, and we don’t do it because we don’t play the game. and the only way we’re going to be able to do it is we’re going to have to do taxes unless they behave,” he said.

Trump added, “If you don’t tax certain products coming into this country from certain countries that are taking advantage of the United States and laughing at our stupidity, we’re going to continue to lose businesses and we’re going to continue to lose jobs.”

Which brings us to Ohio, but also to other states up for consideration on Tuesday as well. Everywhere you look, you find hundreds of thousands of people affected by the global trade agenda. For example, Illinois has lost 290,822 manufacturing jobs since NAFTA, a 33 percent drop. North Carolina has lost 359,794 manufacturing jobs, a 44 percent drop. Florida has lost 109,542 manufacturing jobs, a 25 percent drop. Missouri has lost 105,798 manufacturing jobs, a 29 percent drop.

How do we suppose voters in those states feel about the issue? They will probably tell us Tuesday, and we’ll find out just how potent the trade issue really is now that it is front and center in the Republican debate. This is a Republican issue.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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