China Trade: Republicans Choosing Money Interests Over Voters — And Their Own Ads

Dave Johnson

The voters clearly voted to do something about the bad trade deals, trade cheating and currency manipulation that are draining our jobs and economy. The big money likes things just the way they are. Which will prevail — the voters who just voted, or the big money that just lost? One week after the election in which the airwaves were saturated with Republican ads blasting China, and so far the Republicans are still siding with the money, and with China.

The Voters And The Ads They Saw

A report on campaign ads was released today by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG) conducted for the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM). The report said, “more than 975,000 mentions were made in presidential TV advertising about the key issues of jobs, outsourcing, and trade generally or involving China specifically, and Gov. Romney’s involvement with Bain Capital.”

975,000 mentions, seen my X-million people, multiplied by 2 eyes and ears each is a lot of eye- and ear-minutes that were exposed to messages calling for doing something about the problem of our trade deals hurting our jobs, factories, industries and chunks of our economy.

China

When we say trade and manufacturing and jobs, we mean “China.”

Republicans used China trade again and again in their ads, blaming Democrats for the loss of jobs to China. But in spite of millions of dollars of ads blaming Democrats for inaction on China people understood who was and was not on their side. Reality intruded on Republican rhetoric. This chart from Think Progress shows what happened to our manufacturing base immediately after Bush took office. Seriously, look at this chart and see if you can just guess why we have such a terrible economy today:

This chart shows our import/export balance with China: (blue is imports from, red is exports to China)

People understand what happened, and is happening (see Sensata) people voted for American factories: Elizabeth Wilner, vice president of Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group said, “Even in today’s service-and-dotcom economy, one of the most popular images in 2012 political advertising was the American factory. Whether depicted as desolate through chained gates or shot from a brightly lit, busy floor, the factory starred in an air war dominated by debate over the American economy.” Scott Paul, Executive Director of AAM agreed, saying, “Both the Democratic and Republican candidates spent a stunning amount of money on television advertising to convince voters that they could best represent the interests of America’s manufacturers and their workers. Obviously they latched on to the right issues because jobs and outsourcing are absolute, top-of-mind issues. Across the partisan spectrum, these issues move voters.”

The Money

The Club for Growth is a big-money Wall Street front group. The Chamber of Commerce is looking a lot like a big-money China front group.

John Nichols explains in The Nation, Club for Growth Pressures Republican Candidates to Choose China Over US in Currency Manipulation Fight. John calls Club for Growth, “the exceptionally well-financed conservative pressure group that takes bushels of money from Wall Street speculators—who, of course, like nothing better than a little currency manipulation.”

Currency manipulation achieves many ends for the Chinese government and the corporate interests with which it has aligned: wages are depressed in the United States and China. Corporations that are willing to play one country against another come out ahead. And speculators make a boatland of money.

These goals are all so appealing to the Club for Growth that the group has now made the stance of GOP presidential candidates on the question of whether to crack down on currency manipulation an official “litmus test.”

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce says that enforcing trade rules is “protectionism” because it would protect American wages, jobs and factories. From the Wall Street Journal, Chamber of Commerce’s Donohue: China Currency Bill Invites Retaliation

Thomas Donohue, the president and CEO of the influential business group, told a group of Dow Jones reporters and editors that U.S. policy makers should resist embracing protectionism. While understandable in times of economic stress, an attempt to force China’s hand could have negative repercussions for U.S. firms, he said, as Beijing seeks to maintain full employment for its citizens.

The Money is siding with China. (Of course, the Money is getting a lot of its money from China…)

The Politicians

So the public is solidly behind doing something about the problem of jobs, factories, industries and big chunks of our economy moving to China.

The politicians? Well, the Republicans so far — having just run tens of millions of dollars of ads promising to side with the voters and do something about China and currency manpulation — are still siding with the money over the voters.

Specifically, there is a bill to crack down on Chinese currency manipulation — that thing Romney promised he would do “on my first day in office.” The bill has passed the Senate, the only bill to pass over a Republican/McConnel “side with the money” filibuster. The bill has more than 60 Republican House co-sponsors. But even having overwhelmingly passed the Senate, and even with more than 60 Republican co-sponsors in the House — and even though Republican just campaigned promising to do this — the Republican leadership refuses to bring this bill up for a vote and those 60-plus Republican co-sponsors refuse to ask that it be brought up for a vote.

The election was then, the money is now.

Again: In spite of running tens of millions of dollars of ads calling for a crackdown on China, not one House Republican has asked Boehner to bring the China currency bill up for a vote.

The Study

Some key findings from the study:

  • Republicans outspent and out-aired Democrats on jobs. In all five races, Republicans spent more money and had higher spot count rates than Democrats on advertising that mentioned “jobs.”
  • Democrats’ ads about jobs focused on businesses that sent jobs overseas and laid off workers, which explains why the two sides’ spending and spot-count levels on jobs were closer to parity in the Presidential contest but much further apart in the Senate races. While Bain Capital’s business practices were a major theme of advertising in the race for the White House, the issue was exclusive to that race.
  • Despite being outspent and out-aired, Democrats’ messaging on jobs proved more effective.
  • Republican mentions of “jobs” tended to increase, and Democratic mentions tended to decrease, around the release time of the monthly jobs reports.
  • “Jobs” was the most-mentioned issue in 2012 advertising by far, not just in the five races but in federal races overall.
  • In the four Senate races in particular, Republicans outspent and out-aired Democrats on jobs mentions by anywhere from 2:1 to 4:1. The Democrats used their ads about outsourcing and firing workers to distance the Republican candidates from the voting blocs they needed to win, often punctuating them with taglines such as, “He’s not for us anymore,” and “If [he] wins, the middle class loses.”
  • Looking more closely at the presidential race, Democrats spent $57 million in TV advertising attacking Gov. Romney’s former firm, Bain Capital, for its alleged practices of shipping jobs overseas or eliminating them altogether. The Obama campaign also devoted substantial advertising to the outsourcing angle, including an ad suggesting that, under Romney’s leadership, Bain laid off workers and destroyed livelihoods.
  • While the anti-Bain ads received enormous media attention, more money—$68 million—actually was spent to advertise about trade. The two sides spent roughly the same amount on ads mentioning trade, about $34 million, but all the Republican spending went toward ads specifically mentioning China trade. The Romney campaign in particular used ads to accuse the President of not being tough enough on China trade and currency manipulation.
  • The Ohio market in general and Cleveland in particular were dominant for both presidential ad spending and occurrences on all these issues. Across all markets seeing presidential advertising, Cleveland ranked second-highest for both spending and spot mentions of jobs: $37 million and 33,877, respectively. For anti-Bain mentions, it ranked second-highest for spending and highest for spots: $4.8 million and 5,676. On trade, it ranked second-highest for spending and highest for spots: $5.8 million and 5,138. And on China trade, it ranked highest for both spending and spots: $4.6 million and 4,722.

READ AAM’S SUMMARY: Post-election Analysis Finds Manufacturing, China, and Outsourcing Dominated 2012 Political TV Advertising

READ THE FULL REPORT: Post-election analysis by Kantar Media/CMAG.

DOWNLOAD: Kantar Media/CMAG’s full summary of election ads and costs.

VIEW A CHART: Spot count trend of TV ads mentioning “jobs” in the election.

Hey check out what happens when you click these:

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