Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

The Senate candidate also promises to find funding to rebuild America's aging infrastructure

Leading up to November’s midterm elections, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is following how developments on the campaign trail could impact U.S. manufacturers and their workers. AAM is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates — our goal is to highlight the discussion taking place.

Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) for Kentucky’s Senate seat, outlined her top priorities in an opinion piece published this week in the Community Recorder. It’s a rather typical campaign pledge op-ed, but here’s what caught AAM’s eye:

I will make leveling the playing field with China a top priority, to end currency manipulation and unfair trade practices that cost hundreds of thousands of American manufacturing jobs. I will pursue public-private partnerships to diversify the economy in depressed areas. I will search tirelessly for the funds needed to rebuild our infrastructure. 

Ending currency manipulation is something all congressional candidates should pledge to do. It’s a vital step in the effort to create U.S. manufacturing jobs — 5.8 million jobs could be created in three years if currency manipulation by 20 countries ended, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

And it's important to note that Grimes's currency manipulation promise is just the latest punch thrown in the ongoing fight between the two candidates over who will help Bluegrass State workers more, especially when it comes to saving Kentucky’s 227,700 manufacturing jobs.

Grimes has been tough on McConnell when it comes to his record, especially when it comes to China's currency manipulation. And as Politico reported Monday, her latest campaign ad accuses the Senator of “tending to China” rather than attending to his duties.

McConnell responded to Grimes’s accusations back in July with an ad noting that he helped “level the playing field” for workers by allowing a bill to come to the Senate floor that eventually became law and saved 400 Kentucky jobs. But as AAM pointed out at the time, while it's true that McConnell did allow that legislation to come to the floor, he also actively sought to prevent a vote in 2011 on a China currency bill that would have named China as a currency manipulator (despite the fact that ending currency manipulation would create 31,800 jobs in Kentucky). The bill eventually passed in a 63-35 vote. 

In addition, in 2012 McConnell voted against the two-year bill authorizing infrastructure investment (MAP-21) and against 2013 legislation to add Buy America preferences to cover water infrastructure projects through the new WIFIA loan program. 

The race between Grimes and McConnell remains close, and the back-and-forth between the two candidates no doubt will continue up until Election Day.

But in the meantime, we’re glad to see Grimes pledge to take a stand against China’s currency manipulation (along with expressing support for infrastructure investment, which is vital to keeping America competitive). Congressional candidates across the nation should also stand up to unfair trade practices and pledge to put American workers first. 

And we'll make a pledge of our own — If Grimes manages to unseat McConnell, we're going to hold her to her promise of fighting to end currency manipulation.