Clinton Remarks on Trade From Pittsburgh

CQ Transcripts
Monday, April 14, 2008; 1:24 PM

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.: We also need to immediately and aggressively crack down on China's unfair trade practices. China should be a trade partner, not a trade master. I'll start with currency manipulation. It is outrageous that China and other countries continue to manipulate their currencies to put our goods at a disadvantage.

I've already cosponsored legislation to crack down on currency manipulation as president and I will finish the job.

I'm also going to provide real relief for U.S. industries hurt by surges of Chinese imports. I'm talking about the special China safeguard in our trade laws, Section 421, which was a precondition for letting China join the WTO.

The idea behind these safeguards is simple: Protect American manufacturers from being disadvantaged by an influx of Chinese goods into the American markets.

But over the past seven years, every single time the International Trade Commission has recommended that American manufacturers, including the steel industry, get relief, the Bush administration has blocked it.

But when I'm president, when the International Trade Commission makes a legitimate finding that Chinese import surges are hurting our manufacturers, I'm going to provide relief.

As Leo said, I testified on behalf of relief for steel, gosh, back in '01 and '02. I thought we were going to get it because the case was open and shut, as far as I was concerned. But the Bush administration said no.

Well, you're going to have a problem who will say yes and we're going to start getting the results we need.


We're also going to stand up to China and other non-market countries that subsidize their exports and put our manufacturers at a disadvantage.

It took the Bush administration seven years and more than 3 million lost manufacturing jobs to finally permit U.S. anti-subsidy laws to be applied on imports from China.

But that decision could be revoked at any time. We know we can't rely on the whims of the Bush administration to support U.S. manufacturers.

That's why I'm calling for changing our laws to send China and other non-market economies a simple message: "If you subsidize your exports and hurt our manufacturers, you'll pay the price."

CLINTON: But leveling the playing field...


... for our manufacturers with smart fair trade is just the beginning. We also need an ambitious new strategy to help American manufacturing grow and thrive.

We've got to export more goods. We've got to create new jobs here in America.

Now, when I talk about solutions, I mean we can have a full, comprehensive approach to doing this.

Number one, we're going to go through the tax code line by line. We're going to get rid of any tax break that promotes or rewards outsourcing.


No company...


No company should be allowed to ship your job overseas, using your tax dollars to do it.

So instead, let's support American companies that in-source jobs, that create jobs right here, that look around America and say, "Boy, you know, Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania are good places to do business."

That's what I've tried to do in New York. I created a program called New Jobs for New York. And I tried to make the case to investors that we have a lot of capacity here in New York that is more skilled, more ready to do the jobs that are needed.

But when they look at the tax code and see that they can get a benefit from taking those jobs from Pittsburgh or western Pennsylvania, you know, that's a pretty big push to go ahead and take them out.

So we're going to change that.

We're also going to invest in green energy technologies and vehicles. I think we can create at least 5 million green-collar jobs. Those are jobs that can't be and won't be shipped overseas.

And I commend you on taking the lead with your blue-green alliance. It's time we promoted this work across America. And you have a lot of good ideas. You just need a president to work with you to implement them. And that's what I will do.


Now, when I say solutions, I'm talking about strengthening defense manufacturing right here in America.

I spent the day, on Saturday, with Evan Bayh in Indiana. We started out at a factory near Indianapolis, Allison, which makes axles and other parts of our heavy-duty military vehicles like tanks. They've been doing it for a long time. They've had to fight the Pentagon against outsourcing defense jobs to other countries.

From there, we went to the plant that makes the Humvees. You know, they kept telling the Pentagon, they could produce more and more. We were losing young men and women because the Humvees weren't armored. And we couldn't get the Pentagon to give them the contracts that they needed to put American workers to work protecting the American military.

And from there we went to a community that, a few years ago, had a company called Magnequench. Magnequench made magnets. And these weren't just any kind of magnets. They weren't the kind you put on your refrigerator doors. These were the kind of magnets that went into our precision-guided missiles, our so-called smart bombs, to guide those missiles to their target.

CLINTON: Well, a Chinese company bought Magnequench. The people of Indiana, the company and the elected officials begged the Bush administration to block the Chinese company from moving the jobs to China. Couldn't do it. So not only did the jobs go to China, but so did the intellectual property and the technological know-how to make those magnets.

And I tell these stories because defense manufacturing has to be looked at from the perspective of how we put Americans to work.

And its also a security issue. I'm not comfortable with the fact that we now have to buy magnet for our bombs from China. And I know darn well that the Chinese know how to make those magnets themselves. And they're building up they're military. They want to compete with us every step of the way. And we're basically helping them.

I'm the only candidate with a specific agenda about what to do to combat this. I released it this past weekend.

I would protect the buy-America provisions in our laws affecting special metals and other important work. Crack down on the theft...


Crack down on the theft of our military technology by China and other countries. Fully analyze our major defense contracts to know exactly how they would affect American jobs.

It makes no sense to me that the Pentagon says that they can't consider the impact on American jobs. You know, good jobs in a strong economy is part of America's national defense and security. And we need to start acting like that again.


If you want more details about this, please go to my Web site,, and take a look, because I think this is one of the critical issues in this campaign.

And of course when we talk about solutions for manufacturing, we've got to have quality affordable health care for every American because we've got to take it off the negotiation table. We can't continue to bargain over health care.

(APPLAUSE) I am the only candidate in this campaign who has a truly universal health care plan. No one's left out on my plan. I don't leave it up to the insurance companies to decide whether or not some people are going to get insured.

We're going to insure everybody because we're going to tell the insurance companies they no longer can make life-and-death decisions. They cannot discriminate against people who have been sick or could get sick because that's wrong morally and economically for America.


And we're also going to tackle the high cost of retiree health benefits. How can we possibly compete when a company like GM pays $1,635 in health care costs per car produced, while Toyota only pays $215?

CLINTON: So what we've got to do is keep faith with our retirees and help these companies be able to pay everything that they are required to pay, but to do it in a way that frees up more money, so that they can compete and win in the global economy.

I'm going to be providing tax credits to help employers cover these costs. This will be a temporary measure to address the needs of the aging and retiring workforce as we transition to universal health care. But it's going to help our manufacturers remain competitive.

You know, good plans are critical, but you also have to have the strength and determination to execute them. You've got to look at those of us who are running and say, "Who can I really count on? Who will be there for me? Who really gets it?"

Well, when I started the manufacturing caucus in the Senate, I did so because I saw firsthand how families were torn apart and communities devastated as jobs were lost.

I helped to create new partnerships to try to breathe life into struggling cities and towns in Upstate New York, and bring investors and capital and funds for infrastructure and economic development.

I didn't have any help from the Bush administration, but I think we can take a lot of those ideas and implement them when I'm president.

And when it comes to trade policies, it is going to be required that we have a president who will stand up against China. Well, with me, you know I've already done that.

You know, I went to Beijing and took on the Chinese government over their practices as they affected women and human rights, and I was willing to...


... confront them right in Beijing. They didn't like it. They blocked out my remarks from being heard. But they know that when I say I'm going to do something, I intend to do it.

I've taken them on on behalf of companies in my state who were being manipulated and disadvantaged by the policies of China. I've fought to stop China from manipulating its currency.

CLINTON: And I'm one of the original sponsors of the Foreign Debt Ceiling Act, which requires the administration to begin reversing the trade deficit.

And I'm standing up to the Chinese today by urging President Bush to sit out the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. It is the least we can ask our president to do.


Now, people have said, "Well, do you think that would make a difference?" Well, you don't know until you try.

All I know is that the Chinese are abusing human rights, mistreating the Tibetans, failing to help us stop the genocide in Darfur, violating human rights. And I think the president needs to say he will not attend that opening ceremony unless the Chinese begin to take action and change their behavior.

Now, I'm still waiting for my Democratic opponent to give us a clear answer on the Olympics. He says he is of two minds.

Well, as a president, you've got to be able to make up your mind and you've got to be able to stick with your decisions. And if you can't stand up to China over an opening ceremony, how are you going to stand up to China when it comes to trade and currency manipulation and stopping them from taking advantage of us?


Now, I was in Scranton yesterday, and it always brings back a lot of memories for me. My grandfather was a factory worker. He worked in the Scranton lace mills, starting as a young boy and working until he retired at the age of 65.

My memories go back, you know, to how proud my father and his brothers were that, you know, they had a good life because there were good jobs. There were jobs that supported a family. There were jobs that gave, you know, my grandfather, who started work at 11, didn't even finish high school, the chance to send his three sons to college.

Albeit my father, you know, went on a football scholarship to Penn State and would be the first to tell you he wasn't exactly the greatest of students. But it gave him a chance at a whole new set of options in life.

Well, we've got to make sure that we provide that for our children today.

You know, I see Jack Shay there. I was privileged to go meet with Jack and some of his members, sitting around a table before the St. Patrick's Day parade some weeks ago. And, you know, these are people who work hard and they represent so many hard-working Pennsylvanians.

CLINTON: They're not asking for anything special. They're just asking for a fair shake. They're asking for a president who cares about them. They're asking for a president who'll get up every day and go to work for you and for your jobs and your families and your futures.


And I feel especially strongly about that when it comes to steel.

Some of you may remember when the USS Cole was attacked back in 2000. And it was a horrific attack and we lost sailors. And then that wounded, damaged ship had to be towed away to be fixed.

Shortly after that, I was on the train going back up to New York from Washington. And there were a group of people from U.S. Steel who were there. And I was talking to them, and they told me something which I didn't know, which is that we have lost so much of our steel, as of 2000, that it would be very difficult to repair the hull of that ship using American steel.

I was so taken aback. You know, steel built the defense sector of America. Steel put cars in our garages. Steel gave us great cities like Pittsburgh and so many others.

But I don't think we should be looking backwards. I believe we should look forward.

People ask me all the time, you know, the next president's going to inherit so many problems. Well, that's for sure. Following George Bush and Dick Cheney is going to be a daunting task.


But, you see, I have total confidence and optimism that we're up to the task. We've been on a detour from America's destiny the last seven years. We've had leadership that just didn't get America, didn't understand that we are the greatest nation for a reason: because we solve problems. We're constantly looking toward the future and trying to figure out how it's going to be better than today.

So there is nothing stopping us from making sure that America's best years are still ahead.

(APPLAUSE) I'm going to do everything I can as your president to give you back the resources and the tools you need to do the job you can do better than anybody in the world.

American workers are the most productive, hardest-working people.

CLINTON: They just need a president who's going to be the most productive and hardest-working president. And that's what I am offering.

Thank you all very much.


Now, I understand we have some questions.

MODERATOR: Yes, Senator Clinton. Thank you for...

CLINTON: Excellent. Where am I looking, here?

MODERATOR: You're looking over here, right now, and then we'll send you over to your left.

CLINTON: Where? Right here?

MODERATOR: Right here.

CLINTON: Oh, I'm talking to this gentleman?

MODERATOR: So we will have our first question coming from the other side of the auditorium.



MODERATOR: Senator, it's a little bit of a game. We've got Glenn Dunaway (ph) who's going to ask the first question.

All right, Glenn, where are you from?

QUESTION: My name's Glenn Dunaway (ph). I'm president of United Steelworkers Local 735 out of (inaudible) Ohio.

In 1992, Bill Clinton told us that he would sign -- he would not sign NAFTA unless it was amended to include worker and environmental rights. It wasn't. Not only did he sign it, but he fought for it.

Already, the media is saying that your tough talk on trade is just rhetoric. How can you assure us that we won't be tricked again?

(APPLAUSE) CLINTON: Well, you know, as smart as my husband is, he does make mistakes. And...



And I think that we've now had, you know, 15 years of experience with NAFTA. And the evidence is clear that we have to change the basic provisions of NAFTA.

CLINTON: And I am committed and I'm the only candidate with a very specific plan of how I will fix NAFTA because I'm more interested in fixing the problem.

And what I will do is to tell our neighbors, Canada and Mexico, that we have to renegotiate NAFTA or we will pull out of NAFTA. And I am on record of having said that because...


... I believe that we will have a process that leads to renegotiation.

And here's what I want to do: We will put the labor and environmental standards in the core agreement. They weren't a side agreement. And unfortunately, that side agreement was viewed as not as instrumental or enforceable as it needed to be so we've got to get it into the core agreement.

I will end the provision in NAFTA which I have criticized where foreign companies get to come and sue us over our labor, environmental and health and safety rules.


I am not going to let that continue.


We do a much better job in protecting our environment. We have spent a 100 years coming up with health safety rules. And we also have strong labor protections. So from my perspective, I'm not going to let some foreign company looking for advantage do it by trying to tear our structure of support for workers apart and for our environment. So I'm going after that.

I'm also going to do more on enforcement.

You know, it's not only manufacturing that I worry about. And I told some of you this story. We share a border between New York and Canada. And it's the longest peaceful border in the world, and that's wonderful. But I have to say that a lot of my constituents have a difficult time getting their products into Canada. You know, I have dairy farmers and apple farmers and small businesses who can't get across the border. So I commissioned a study, as a senator, to try to figure out what was going on. And the evidence was pretty clear that there are so many layers of obstacles and barriers that are not really visible that prevent us from getting our goods into Canada. And I'm going to end that.

Because I complained to the U.S. trade representative. Told him what I had found: that, you know, my folks couldn't get apples, or dairy products across the border while people coming from Canada sure can get into our market. That was like talking to a wall.

So we're going to have a trade policy, backed up by strong trade enforcement, carried out by people who want to make sure our trade agreements are pro-American -- pro-American worker trade agreements. And we're going to start with renegotiating NAFTA.


MODERATOR: Senator, I have our next question for you.

QUESTION: Hello, Senator. My name is Terry Davidek (ph) and I work for ATI.

I'm vice president of Local Union 1196 United Steelworkers, and I'd like to give you a big Pittsburgh steelworker welcome.

CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you.


QUESTION: And my question is, the current administration has refused to take action on China, are officially holding down the value of its currency against the dollar. You have said you will take action, and I thank you for that.

My question is, if you become president, will you name China as a manipulator and stop this unfair practice?

CLINTON: Well, that's what I intend to do.

And we have to look at this from a comprehensive perspective because we have done so much in the last seven years to advantage China to our detriment.

You know, when George Bush became president, we had a balanced budget and a surplus. We were not borrowing billions of dollars a day from China.

And we have lost that advantage. We are now deeply in debt, we borrow from Beijing, we are dependent upon them to keep lending us money to pay the interest on George Bush's debt. That weakens us.

You know, I started saying years ago in Upstate New York, you know, it's very tough to crack down on your banker. And we have put ourselves in this position.

So we've got to move back toward fiscal responsibility so that we've got more leverage against China and other countries.

It's not only China; we owe money to everybody now. We owe money to Mexico. We owe money to everybody.

So, that's one thing.

Number two, if we move back toward fiscal responsibility, we can begin to attack our trade deficit. And part of that is taking a strong stand against currency manipulation.

There isn't any doubt it happens. And we have to push not only China, but push the international community to take steps against it.

But we're in a really weak position to do that right now because of our indebtedness to China. And that's what really bothers me.

So we've got to be moving on these tracks simultaneously to build up our fiscal strength again so that we can take on China.

We also have to demand that the companies -- American companies that do business in China have standards that we expect when they export back into our market. Because that will clearly remove some of the advantage that China has.

If you can export into the United States lead-laced toys and contaminated pet food, and now we think dozens of people have died from contaminated drugs made in China, many of those are made under the supervision of an American company.

CLINTON: And we're going to hold American companies more accountable. They can't just go over there and take advantage of those low wages and hurt us.


And also, as you said, I will be enforcing the trade rules, which will be a dramatic change from this current president. And I think that will also send a message to the Chinese.

But I want you to understand, we are in a much weakened position today to get tough on the Chinese than we were seven years ago. And I -- you know, I am deeply, you know, regretful that President Bush has pursued the policies that he has pursued.

But it's our obligation now to take what we have, which is the reality we're going to inherit from George Bush, and move aggressively and quickly to deal with the whole package, so that we can, when we say we're going to get tough on China, back it up. And that's what I intend to do.


QUESTION: My name is Kelly Verb (ph). I am a member of the Steelworkers Local 1408 and a proud woman of steel. First, I'd like to say you're awesome.

CLINTON: Thank you.


QUESTION: The contradiction (sic) of America's industrial base has been reduced has reduced our ability to supply our members of the armed services with the equipment that they need to defend our nation. What will you do when you become president to ensure our armed forces are supplied by domestic production and not dependent on foreign suppliers?

CLINTON: I'm really glad you asked that. Because, you know, as I briefly mentioned, this is a big issue for me. And I spent, you know, a whole day talking about it in Indiana. I'm going to talk about it here in Pennsylvania.

Because the fact is that our industrial base has shrunk. One of the ways to rebuild it is to make sure more of your tax dollars that go to the Pentagon come back in jobs right here in Pittsburgh. That is, to me, the way we should be thinking about this.


And, you know, we're going to have to do a number of things to repair the damage. Number one, we do need to take a hard look at the rules within the Pentagon that have been established under President Bush, because they have taken a very hands-off, kind of laissez-faire attitude, that if jobs that are essential to American defense go to China or anywhere else, that's not a problem.

CLINTON: I think it's a really big problem. I think it's a huge problem.

We have lost technology. We have lost know-how. And we are losing our competitive advantage, economically and militarily.

You know, one issue that is not covered enough in the press during this presidential campaign is the fact that China is investing huge amounts of money in building a blue-water navy to compete with ours; in taking every advantage they can to compete with us in missile technology. You probably read, a few months ago, they shot down a satellite to test one of their missiles.

I mean, they intend to compete with us militarily.

Now, I want to have a peaceful relationship with China. But I don't want to be taken advantage, either economically, or give up any of our military advantage.


And we've got to keep defense manufacturing here in order to avoid that.


And the other piece of this is I want to crack down on industrial espionage. You know, what the Chinese can't buy from us, they steal from us. And they've been stealing a lot of our technology and our intellectual property.

So I will put together a task force of the FBI and CIA, private businesses, unions, others who have insight into this, to begin to crack down on the industrial espionage that's going on.

And then, finally, as I mentioned, I think that there are critical components of our national defense that we have to protect with "Buy America" provisions.

You know, one of the things we're fighting right now -- George Bush and John McCain are on one side. Evan Bayh and I are on the other side. There are certain critical metals that we need for national defense.

In fact, there's a company headquartered here in Pittsburgh that is, I think, the largest company with respect to titanium; a critical metal.

And we have a provision in the law which says we have to maintain our metals industry in America, because it's so instrumental to our national defense.

Well, President Bush and John McCain -- I've taken to calling them McBush...


... have decided that they don't need that law anymore; just eliminate it; buy it from wherever you can find it. And I'm going to fight that. Once I'm president, you won't have to worry about it going away.


But that's an example of what we're up against. And that's why we need a president who will take all of this on.


MODERATOR: Senator, we have time for one more question, and it's going to be from Dwayne Cooper (ph).


QUESTION: Senator, my name is Dwayne Cooper (ph). And when I started to work at Universal-Cyclops Steel in Bridgeville, there were 2,483 people working there. Today, it's my understanding there are less than 300 people working in that plant.

Now, I've heard you talk about NAFTA, that's North American Fair Trade Agreement (sic). My question is a two-part question.

First, do we need a manufacturing policy in America? And the second part of that would be what will your policy be?

CLINTON: Well, I believe we do need a manufacturing policy. That's why I started the Manufacturing Caucus in the Senate; it's a bipartisan caucus. Because I think we've got to have a special emphasis on manufacturing.

And, you know, from my perspective, it is critical, both to our economy and to our national defense (inaudible) that the talking heads and the pundits -- and I'm occasionally confronted by my saying "We should have a manufacturing policy."

And people say, "Well, that's not what we do in America; we're a free market economy."

And I say, "Oh, really, then why do we subsidize the oil companies? If we're such a free market economy, why are we taking billions of your tax dollars and giving them to the oil companies?"


The fact is, we have policies in America that advantage certain industries and certain people. I think it's time we started investing in those industries that I believe are critical for our future well- being.

And manufacturing, steel, autos, where so many jobs are linked to them, would be my priority.

And, you know, as some of you know, Upstate New York was a great manufacturing center. And starting, you know, in the '60s, '70s, '80s, jobs began leaving. First they left from the north to the south. And then they left from our state to other countries. We've seen that all over.

And when you stop to think about it, America did really, really well. We built a strong middle class. We had the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world. We're now in a new global environment, so we have to be smarter and tougher about how we compete and protect ourselves.

But, for the life of me, I don't see how we do that if we don't make things.

CLINTON: Therefore, I want to take away the subsidies from the oil industry, from the drug companies, from the insurance companies, from Wall Street.


Let's put those subsidies to work for a change here in Pennsylvania putting hard-working Pennsylvanians to work.

And I think that's a totally appropriate switch.

So if anyone tells you that, you know, "Industrial policy, manufacturing policy, that's not what we do in America," you just come back and say, "Well, then I'm tired of subsidizing all these other companies."

You know, because they are making money with our help. And I think it's time we put steelworkers, and autoworkers, and other people back to work with our help.


And I know that we can do that. And if you give me a chance to be your president, I will get to work with you to make that happen.


Thank you all.



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