GOP Candidates on Jobs & the Economy

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New information has come out of the Republican presidential campaign regarding their views on job and economic growth in America and Nevada.

I agree with most Americans that there is no other issue more important than jobs and the economy.  Voters have been telling us this for several election cycles.  The reason this is voters’ top priority is that without a strong economy and middle class, we cannot afford any of the expenses candidates talk about, including leading the free world. 

Pundits marvel at the interest in this election cycle but are attributing it mostly to the wrong things.  We can thank Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump for putting jobs and the economy center stage in the debate.  Voters believe that finally someone is listening to them.  The reason for the outsiders zooming to the top is that voters are fed up with the “Washington Cartel” that has given us decades of bad trade deals which shipped millions of good paying jobs to nations eager to take them.

If you total the poll numbers for the Republican candidates that have the right prescriptions for American job creation, you will find that more than 60% of Republican primary voters prefer candidates that have serious plans to grow jobs.  There are two major reasons why jobs have left and continue to leave America:

Tax Policy

Our out-dated tax policy puts American producers at a huge disadvantage.  Every major trading partner uses a Value Added Tax (VAT).  A VAT is “border adjustable” and in practice is a way to tax imports while excluding taxes on exports.  America has no such national consumption tax and we tax mostly production.

Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have published tax plans shifting our tax burden to consumption taxes via a “business tax” that works like a VAT, giving America the ability to counter the tax advantage foreign goods have over American products.

A consumption tax applies to ALL products and broadens the tax base to include taxing imports equally with American products.  Mike Huckabee goes further and advocates for the “Fair Tax” which eliminates all current federal taxes on Americans and replaces them with a national sales tax.  This would be a boon to American products which translates to millions of new jobs here.

Currency Manipulation and Trade Agreements

Foreign currency manipulation has been with us for decades and is WTO illegal. This creates another 30-40% disadvantage for U.S. products as it serves as both an illegal tariff and a subsidy.  The U.S. economy cannot produce jobs and wealth without addressing this problem.  China, Japan, Korea and Germany manipulate their currency to gain advantage over American products.  To pass various trade agreements, the administration always promises to address this with the signatories but never does.  Our most recent agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), waiting passage and signing into law is another NAFTA style agreement with a promise to address foreign currency manipulation later.  Fool us once, shame on you.  Fool us again, shame on us.

Candidates are being pressured into stating their position on confronting foreign nations who cheat by illegally manipulating their currencies.  We can thank Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders who advocate confronting the trade cheaters and making this a central issue.  Others indicated that they agree with Trump – specifically Cruz, Fiorina, Santorum and Huckabee.

Still others support the “Washington Cartel” view that we should not worry about losing manufacturing jobs because the nation is transitioning to a service and financial (post-industrial) economy and this is a natural process of maturing economies.  In this camp are Bush, Kasich and Rubio.

Ben Carson said recently that he supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement negotiated by the White House, aligning himself with the “Washington Cartel” rather than the social conservatives who have powered his campaign.  Dr. Carson’s backing of the 12-nation Pacific trade deal places him at odds with Donald Trump, his chief rival for support among anti-establishment Republicans.  Carson’s poll numbers have gone down in some polls placing him as low as 3rd behind Rubio.

Carly Fiorina warned, “There’s a whole bunch of stuff in there that can only be described as crony capitalism, special giveaways to certain industries,” adding the agreement is “a mess.”  Fiorina said she favors bilateral agreements over trade pacts because “bilateral agreements are always more effective. We have more leverage.”

Marco Rubio, who declared the Trans-Pacific Partnership to be one of three essential “pillars” of a Rubio Presidency, is now taking issue with a Wall Street Journal news report that lists Rubio as supporting the unpopular “Obamatrade” pact he voted to fast-track.  The article observed that: “Still backing the trade legislation are the party’s establishment wing candidates: Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Govs. John Kasich of Ohio and Chris Christie of New Jersey.”

Rubio and others are being coy on the subject.  I think every candidate should be forced to reveal how they stand on this issue.  We should know if they are a “globalist,” or do they instead put the American Constitution and American workers first?

Some are obviously conflicted between their financial supporters and their constituents.  These folks are walking a tight rope and can’t reveal their true beliefs as this would cost them financial or voter support.

During the last debate, Trump said that TPP was “a horrible deal that is going to lead to nothing but trouble” and he would rather make “individual deals with individual countries.”  He went on to say, “This is one of the worst trade deals,” Trump said. “I would rather not have it.  We should be negotiating these deals one-on-one with every country. Why wouldn’t we want to do that?  We should negotiate from a position of strength, not a position of weakness.”

I will be listening to hear other candidates reveal their views on this most critical issue.  You should too.

Frank Shannon served in the U.S. Army, was an engineering/operations manager for AT&T for 27 years, was the owner of a small manufacturing business for 23 years, served as Colorado Chair of the Coalition for a Prosperous America and moved to Mesquite in 2013.

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