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Yesterday in Ohio candidate Mitt Romney said he would clamp down on China’s currency manipulation. Today he is still not asking the House Republicans to bring the China currency bill up for a vote. Mr. Romney has the opportunity to demonstrate leadership and put his actions where his campaign words are — or not. He can ask Republicans in the House to vote on the bill to do something about the problem – or not.

The Currency Manipulation Issue

China has been manipulating its currency rate, keeping it as much as 30% below market value. This means that things made in China cost as much as 30% less than things made elsewhere. This is 30% before taking into account the various subsidies China gives to companies manufacturing in China, or how China allows companies to pollute freely. This gives them a competitive advantage in world markets, and lures our own companies to outsource their manufacturing to China. And it contributes to our dramatic, huge, bloodsucking trade deficit that drains hundreds of billions of dollars a year out of our economy.

Steven Capozzola explained in Why Should Congress Pass China Currency Legislation?,

What few seem to understand is that we are already in a trade war with China. It’s not one that we launched, nor one that we wanted. But China’s undervaluation of its currency, which violates world trade rules, is part of a deliberate, well-coordinated strategy to undercut U.S. manufacturers.

… How did this happen? China intervenes in the currency market to buy dollars and set its own currency at an artificially low exchange rate. This makes Chinese goods 40% cheaper when entering the U.S. market while making our goods significantly more costly when exported to China.

… This is a bipartisan issue, one that marks a clear chance for Congress to stand up to a very protectionist, predatory campaign. China can purchase dollars, which are freely traded, in order to set its currency peg. But conversely, it is illegal to buy China’s closely held currency.

The Currency Bill And Discharge Petition

To address this (and other) currency manipulation the Senate passed a bill requiring our government to act against countries that manipulate their currency. This bill is waiting for the House to act because Speaker Boehner will not allow it to come to the floor for a vote.

The House has a procedure for forcing a bill to come to the floor when House leadership is blocking a vote. This is called a Discharge Petition. If enough Representatives sign a discharge petition it must be brought up for a vote. There are 67* Republican members of the House of Representatives who co-sponsored legislation to confront China over their currency manipulation: Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (HR639). If enough of them sign the discharge petition it has to be voted on, and it will pass.

From 61 House Republicans Co-Sponsored China Currency Bill, Now Side With China,

61 House Republicans … had co-sponsored the China currency bill, but who now side with China by refusing to help force a vote on the bill. The bill has passed the Senate and Republican leaders are refusing to allow a vote in the House. This bill means jobs. This bill means confronting China over their trade cheating. Call these members of Congress and demand that they side with American workers instead of China.

[. . .] The Club For Growth, a Wall Street front-group that backs China’s positions on these issues, has demanded that Republicans side with China on this, and has called it a “litmus test.” One Republican who actually did sign the discharge petition to force the House to vote, Harold Rogers, was forced by House leadership to remove his name!

Romney’s Etch-A-Sketch On Currency

At campaign stop after campaign stop Mitt Romney says that he will crack down on China’s currency manipulation on his first day in office. Yet he has an opportunity to do something about it right now. Romney has the opportunity right now to demonstrate that he will live up to his words. He can ask Speaker Boehner to bring the currency bill to the floor of the House for a vote. And he can ask Republicans in Congress to sign a discharge petition to bring up for a vote a currency manipulation bill that 61 of them co-sponsored. It is his own party that is holding this up.

So it this another Etch-A-Sketch or does Romney really mean what he says about China’s currency manipulation. He can show us right now.

*The number of Republican co-sponsors (who also refuse to sign the discharge petition) has risen.

Update – After writing this post earlier today, a petition came in my email, clicking through to:

Tell Congress to take a stand on China’s currency manipulation

End Currency Manipulation Now
Tell Congress to stop China’s cheating on currency manipulation, which stands in the way of free and fair trade, job creation, and a higher standard of living for millions of Americans.

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