Trump's America First trade pitch threatened by Biden manufacturing focus


President Trump's America First agenda is under threat from Democratic nominee Joe Biden's focus on trade and manufacturing, with top White House adviser Peter Navarro suggesting the former vice president was looking to rewrite the record of his years in office.

"Poor Joe seems to have a bad case of amnesia," Navarro told the Washington Examiner. "He seems to have forgotten that he and Barack Obama lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs during their administration while President Trump added half a million."

Biden, in Warren, Michigan, this week, pledged to crack down on U.S. companies outsourcing jobs, advance a tax credit for companies that invest in U.S. manufacturing, and close loopholes in the nearly 100-year-old Buy American Act, among other measures.

Trump, over four years in office, broke with decades of U.S. policy that sought closer ties with China, upending the policy with tariffs and pressure campaigns on U.S. allies to shun new Chinese technologies.

"Obama even claimed that manufacturing jobs would never come back to America and that President Trump would need a magic wand to do that," said Navarro, an assistant to the president and director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy. He said that Trump "obviously ... had the magic wand, while all Joe Biden did was stand on the shore and watch American workers drown."

He charged Biden as a "serial plagiarist" who "wants to steal" the Trump administration's America First trade and manufacturing agenda. He pointed to Trump's numerous 'Buy American' executive orders and said that "domestic government procurement has increased by 25% over fiscal years ’18 and ’19 compared to the [Obama]-Biden fiscal years of ’15 and ’16.”

Biden campaign spokeswoman Rosemary Boeglin countered that Trump had failed to grapple adequately with the economic fallout from the coronavirus and the health crisis itself.

"Trump thinks that if the stock market is up and his rich friends are happy, his job is done," Boeglin said. "The fact is, before the pandemic and now, Trump's economic agenda never put working people first."

"Instead," she said, "Trump turned his back on his promises to end offshoring and close gaping loopholes in Buy American policies, allowing the federal government to send taxpayer dollars to foreign companies instead of supporting American manufacturers."

Boeglin said Biden had long prioritized working people "and has a real plan to ... create millions of good-paying jobs and invest in an economy that rewards work and not just wealth."

Derek Scissors of the American Enterprise Institute said that Trump's first-term trade agenda has yet to demonstrate success and called Biden's U.S.-China trade agenda "vague" and said it failed to confront Beijing's predation.

"Trump thinks tariffs are the most important trade action and the bilateral deficit with China is the most important problem," Scissors said. "But in 2019, tariffs rose and the deficit with China fell, yet manufacturing job growth slowed. In the second quarter this year, the bilateral deficit rose $20 billion despite tariffs and the phase one deal that is supposed to help U.S. exports."

Trump allies argue that Biden would stifle economic growth and move companies overseas by reversing Trump's tax reform.

Biden's proposed tax agenda "would return the country to the bad old days of foreign takeovers and corporate inversions that he presided over as vice president," Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of conservative pro-business group Job Creators Network, said in a statement. JCN has ties to prominent Trump supporters.

The Trump campaign pointed to Biden's "nearly 50 years" in office as evidence of what voters could reasonably expect from his agenda if he were to win on Election Day.

“Biden has prioritized China’s interests over American workers, shipping manufacturing jobs overseas and implementing trade deals that killed American jobs," said Trump 2020 deputy national press secretary Samantha Zagar. "Trump was elected in 2016 on a promise to put America First, which included bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States — and he’s delivered."

Zagar singled out Trump's "deregulatory and pro-growth policies" that she said helped boost manufacturing despite the broader economic slowdown brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.