U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) has long been critical of the impacts of China and U.S. trade policy on workers — and she said this weekend that President Donald Trump’s “chaotic” strategy isn’t helping.
“The problem is that the president’s trade strategy is chaotic. It’s more for headlines than for a strategic steady trade strategy,” Dingell said Saturday on Fox News.
On Sunday, Trump’s 15% tariffs on $112 billion in Chinese imports take effect. The tariff potentially means higher prices for consumers on clothes, shoes, sporting goods and other items. And that’s just the first step. On Dec. 15, the Trump administration’s second round of 15% tariffs kicks in and will apply to about $160 billion of imports.
Dingell has hit China many times over its trade practices and she did again in the interview.
“Trade with China is very complicated, and I actually think that we’ve got to do something about it. And we’ve needed to do something about it for some time,” she said. “They manipulate their currency.”
But she said Trump’s approach isn’t helping and she wants “him to be more strategic and to do a better job of explaining it.”
Because Dingell happened to make her comments on Fox News — which the president frequently watches — he quickly responded on Twitter, claiming she wants to “give up on our very successful Trade [sic] battle with China” and adding, without evidence that “we are taking in $Billions [sic].”
Just watched Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, and many other Democrats, wanting to give up on our very successful Trade battle with China, which has had its worst Economic year in memory (and getting worse). We are taking in $Billions. Will be big for Farmers and ALL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2019
Dingell represents the 12th Congressional District in Southeast Michigan, which includes liberal Ann Arbor, Dearborn and the Trump-friendly Downriver region.
She also has said that she doesn’t support the Trump administration’s proposed United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), the replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because it doesn’t do enough to protect workers. That’s something other Michigan Democrats have said, as well, particularly U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.).
On Saturday, Dingell tweeted in response to Trump: “Mr. President, I will always fight strongly against unfair trade practices and stand up for the hardworking men and women of my district. But we need a clear, consistent strategy.”
Mr. President, I will always fight strongly against unfair trade practices and stand up for the hardworking men and women of my district. But we need a clear, consistent strategy. https://t.co/MLEL1mZcmv
— Rep. Debbie Dingell (@RepDebDingell) August 31, 2019
Dingell also got some Twitter backup from U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester), a freshman who flipped the nearby 11th District in metro Detroit.
Funny, I JUST left a conversation with a Michigan business owner who said instead of expanding jobs in our community he has had to move jobs oversees because of YOUR failing trade war.
His business needs certainty but all he is getting is chaos. https://t.co/dK8tydNyo3
— Haley Stevens (@HaleyLive) August 31, 2019
In his tweet, Trump also claimed it will be “big for Farmers and All!” This week, the Republican National Committee (RNC) trumpeted Trump’s trade policies.
“From the USMCA to China to Japan, President Trump’s unwavering dedication to giving American businesses and workers a level playing field will pay dividends for our nation’s families, farmers, and manufacturers for generations to come,” said RNC spokesperson Michael Joyce.
However, as the Advance has reported, Michigan farmers — like others across the nation — are reeling from tariffs.
China has said it would suspend its purchase of U.S. agriculture products in retaliation. Michigan exported almost $300 million in oilseeds and grains to China in 2017, according to the U.S.-China Business Council.