Dingell hits Trump on trade on Fox News, so he obviously responds

Debbie Dingell (left) and Donald Trump (right)

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].”

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.”

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.

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.

Trump’s trade war with China hits home in Michigan

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.


Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.


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