Obama lodges China unfair trade complaint
18 September 2012, 13:04
Cincinnati — President Barack Obama lodged an
unfair-trade complaint against China on Monday and immediately used it
as a wedge against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, whose beleaguered
campaign hit another pothole even it tried to regroup from a shaky few
Obama told voters in Ohio, where the auto industry is
important, of his administration's new push for the World Trade
Organisation to sanction China for subsidising exports of vehicles and
vehicle parts — and costing American jobs.
Romney responded to
Obama's actions quickly and dismissively. Obama "may think that
announcing new trade cases less than two months from Election Day will
distract from his record, but the American businesses and workers
struggling on an uneven playing field know better", the Republican said.
was Romney's own campaign, however, that preoccupied many Republican
activists on Monday. Just as aides were trying to calm unhappy
supporters, a video surfaced
showing Romney telling wealthy donors that almost half of all Americans
"believe they are victims" entitled to extensive government support.
"I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," he tells the donors.
In the video reported by Mother Jones magazine,
Romney was referring to the 46% of Americans who do not owe federal
income taxes; he put the figure at 47% in his videotaped remarks.
Off the cuff
of those Americans pay other forms of taxes. While many such households
are poor, some families making $100 000 a year or more pay no federal
income tax because of various deductions and credits.
hastily called news conference late in the day, Romney conceded the
comments weren't "elegantly stated" and that they were spoken "off the
The Romney campaign said "Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy".
Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina, called Romney's comments "shocking".
video surfaced as Republican activists have watched with growing
concern as opinion polls suggest Obama has opened a small lead over
Romney since the Republican and Democratic conventions last month.
allies have tried to dampen growing complaints that the campaign
fumbled opportunities at the Republican convention, on foreign unrest
and, most crucially, on the US economy, which is seen as Obama's weakest
Deficit hawks have long urged
politicians of all stripes to tell voters the painful truth that
services must be cut and/or taxes must be raised to slow federal deficit
Campaign adviser Ed Gillespie, in a conference call
with reporters, said voters want more details about Romney's tax and
spending proposals, and he promised they will come.
rolling out new policies," Gillespie said, but the campaign wants people
to "understand when we say we can do these things, here's how we're
going to get them done, and these are the specifics."
addressed another sensitive area on Monday, immigration, in his speech
to the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles.
to work with both parties to "permanently fix our immigration system".
He said a fair and efficient system would never be achieved "if we do
not first get control of our borders".
The careful language
underscored the fine line Romney must walk between appealing to Latino
voters and angering conservatives who oppose proposals for pathways to
citizenship for some illegal immigrants.
No new details
Sunday, the website Politico reported significant tension and disarray
in the Romney campaign. Particularly chaotic, according to the account,
were efforts to draft Romney's acceptance speech at his party's Florida
convention. The speech drew lackluster reviews in general, and rebukes
from some for making no mention of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
played down the reports in an interview with the Spanish-language
American TV network Telemundo. "I've got a terrific campaign," he said.
"My senior campaign people work extraordinarily well together. I work
well with them."
In his Los Angeles speech, Romney added no new
significant details to his deficit-cutting claims. He said he would put
the nation "on track to a balanced budget", in part by eliminating
non-essential programs or subsidies.
Obama, speaking in
Cincinnati, seemed eager to challenge the notion that Romney will detail
potentially painful changes Americans will have to accept to slow the
fast rise in the federal debt.
Obama's own spending plans would
not balance the budget. But he has offered more detailed
tax-and-spending proposals, in part because he must present budget
proposals to Congress.
China hits back
In Ohio on
Monday, Obama noted that he, unlike Romney, would raise taxes on
households making more than $250 000 a year. Romney's platform, the
president said, "doesn't add up".
"They say the most important
thing we have to do is reduce the deficit," Obama said. "Then the first
thing they do is to spend trillions of dollars more on tax breaks for
In Cincinnati, Obama reiterated his claims that
Bain Capital - the private equity firm Romney headed for years - helped
companies shift US jobs to China.
"He made money investing in
companies that uprooted from here and went to China," the president
said. "When other countries don't play by the rules, we've done
something about it. We've brought more trade cases against China in one
term than the previous administration did in two."
campaign recently began airing TV ads accusing Obama of allowing
American manufacturing jobs to be lost to China. The campaign says Bain
was not involved in moving jobs to China while Romney headed the firm.
China filed its own World Trade Organisation case on Monday challenging
US anti-dumping measures on billions of dollars of kitchen appliances,
paper and other goods, adding to worsening trade strains between the two