Jon Huntsman (R)
John Huntsman Jr. is the former United States Ambassador to China, serving in the Obama administration from 2009-2011. Prior to serving as ambassador, Huntsman served as the Governor of Utah from 2005-2009. He holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.
Jon Huntsman on China Currency Manipulation at GOP Debate
Jon Huntsman has suspended his bid for the Presidency.
On Saturday, the GOP candidates faced off in the 14th debate of the primary season. Here’s what they had to say about Manufacturing
I come from southwestern Pennsylvania, the heart of the steel country, the heart of manufacturing. And it’s been devastated because we are uncompetitive. Thirty years ago we were devastated because business and labor didn’t understand global competitiveness and they made a lot of mistakes. They did -- they weren’t prepared for it and we lost a lot of jobs.
That’s not what’s happening now. Our productivity gains, our labor force, their doing their job, they’re being competitive. But they’re running into a stiff headwind called government. And it’s government taxation, 35 percent corporate tax which is high -- the highest in the world. It’s a tax that doesn’t easily offset when we try to export, which makes it even more difficult...
We are once again on the cusp of a manufacturing renaissance in this country, if we do it right. China is going down in terms of GDP growth from 8 percent, 9 percent, 10 percent to 4 percent or 5 percent, 6 percent. And as they go down in growth, unemployment goes up.
We have an opportunity to win back that manufacturing investment, if we are smart enough, with the right kind of leadership to fix our taxes. No one up here is calling for the complete elimination of all the loopholes and the deductions, where the Wall Street Journal came out and endorsed my tax plan. That’s what needs to be done, not tinkering around the edges.
On China, however, there were more varied statements:
Listen, we have the most important relationship of the 21st Century with China. We’ve got to make it work. Of course we have challenges with them. We’ve had challenges for 40 years. It’s nonsense to think you can slap a tariff on China the first day that you’re in office, as Governor Romney would like to do.
My own view on the relationship with China is this, which is that China is stealing our intellectual property, our patents, our designs, our know-how, our brand names. They’re hacking into our computers, stealing information from not only corporate computers but from government computers. And they’re manipulating their currency.
And for those who don’t understand the impact of that, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it. And that is, if you hold down the value of your currency artificially, you make your products artificially low-priced and kill American jobs. That has happened here in this country.
And if I’m president of the United States, I’m not going to continue to talk about how important China is and how we have to get along. And I believe those things. They’re very important. And we do have to get along. But I’m also going to tell the Chinese it’s time to stop. You have to play by the rules. I will not let you kill American jobs any longer.
You cannot compete with China in the long run if you have an inferior infrastructure. You’ve got to move to a 21st-century model. That means you’ve got to be -- you’ve got to be technologically smart, and you have to make investments.
In last week’s GOP Debate, Jon Huntsman was asked about our trade relationship with China and their recent tariffs on American-made cars. Here’s his weak, vacillating response:
Well, it’s a large and complicated relationship. It’s part trade, it’s part North Korea, it’s part Iran, part Pakistan, part Burma, part South China Sea, party military-to-military engagement. You move one end of the relationship, it impacts the other.
The best thing to do, invite a few dissidents who are seeking freedom and want to expand democracy in China to the United States embassy, the kind of thing that I used to do. That is what matters to the Chinese people who are looking for change and looking for reform these days.
That is the kind of thing that over time is going to create enough swell of change and reform in that country that is going to make the U.S.-China relationship successful longer term.
Because eventually, we need more than just a transactional relationship. We need shared values infused into this relationship. Let’s face it, the 21st Century will only have two relationships that matter: the United States and China.
For that to succeed, we need shared values. That is democracy. That is human rights. That is recognition of the role of the Internet in society. That is greater tolerance toward religion, and so much more.
As president of the United States, I would drive that home. And I would make it a relationship that worked.
Contrasting with other GOP contenders, former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Jr. has been striking a much more conciliatory tone when it comes to China’s currency manipulation. He criticized retaliatory measures as “foolhardy” and added:
You don’t want to jeopardize all the many things we’re trying to achieve in what is the most important bilateral relationship in the world by acting in an impetuous unilateral way.
The Des Moines Register asked the presidential candidates “What specifically would you advocate as president, if anything, to encourage growth of manufacturing jobs?” Below is Jon Huntsman’s response:
“Onerous regulations are creating uncertainty and driving up costs, and our convoluted tax system inhibits growth. I have offered bold tax reform — which eliminates all subsidies and special interest carve-outs, while lowering rates across the board— as well as regulatory reform, including the repeal of Obamacare. This will empower American businesses — including manufacturers — to compete in the 21st century economy.”
As we’ve reported on, Mitt Romney was the first of the GOP field to take a strong stance against China’s currency manipulation. Now it appears that this incredibly popular stance is catching fire with some of the other candidates.
Newt Gingrich warned of China owning...
…trillions of dollars of our debt, and they have a superior manufacturing system and a superior military, then our range of independence will be within the framework the Chinese tolerate.
Jon Huntsman, meanwhile, takes a much more cautious stance:
I don’t want to find ourselves in a trade war. With respect to China, if you start slapping penalties on them ... you’re going to get the same thing in return.
Jon Huntsman came out against the China currency bill, expressing his fears that such action could spark a trade war. As the Wall Street Journal reports, this is a reversal from his previous position on the legislation:
“That in practice would be bad; it would result in a trade war,” said Mr. Huntsman, a former U.S. ambassador to China. “The last thing you need between the two top economies in the world is a trade war, particularly during a recession, for heaven’s sake.”
That’s a shade different from when Mr. Huntsman appeared on Fox News on Sept. 28. “I would sign it, simply because you need to keep pressure on China,” he said at the time. The former governor added that the bill would carry very little meaning, and he believes the country is already working to devalue its currency. Still, he said the law could be used to gain leverage in negotiations with China.
Although Jon Huntsman voiced his support for a strong industrial base, he refused to join Romney and others in condemning China’s currency cheating:
“We need to regain our industrial base… There are two things that critically need to be done for us to stay ahead in this highly competitive world, and when we lose one or both of them, we lose out to the Chinese and the Indians. One is maintaining a strong commitment to innovation, entrepreneurship and freedom in the marketplace. We have the sense of innovation that no country has been able to replicate. Some have tried, and some will continue to try, but nobody does it like we do here. And that gives rise to high technology, to regular manufacturing jobs cross the board. It makes this economy hum when it's working well.”
“Well, first of all, I don't subscribe to the Don Trump school or the Mitt Romney school of international trade. I don't want to find ourselves in a trade war.
With respect to China, if you start slapping penalties on them based on countervailing duties, you're going to get the same thing in return because what they're going to say, because of quantitative easing part one and part two, you're doing a similar thing to your currency. And then you're going to find yourself in a trade war very, very quickly.
And what does that do? That disadvantages our small businesses. It disadvantages our exporters. It disadvantages our agricultural producers. So I say, for the first and the second-largest economies in the world, we have no choice; we have to find common ground. We have to of course use our trade laws, and use them very, very aggressively.
But at the end of the day, we've got to find more market-opening measures. We've got to get more governors from this country together with governors from provinces of China, mayors together with mayors, and exploit the opportunities that exist for exporters. That's a job- creator in this country. It's a huge job creator. And we have to get used to the fact that as far as the eye can see into the 21st century, it's going to be the United States and China on the world stage.”
Like Gov. Perry, Governor Huntsman used the CNN/Tea Party debate last night to tout his job-creating record as governor:
I have put forward a program that I want all of you to understand is basically patterned after what I did as governor. I think when you look at everybody on the stage here, all you have to do is say, where have they been and what have they done?
First and foremost, I want to reform this tax code. I put forward a program that the Wall Street Journal has come out and endorsed. It basically calls for stripping out the loopholes and the deductions and lowering the rates for individuals, cleaning out corporate welfare and subsidies on the corporate side and lowering the rate, leaving us a whole lot more competitive for the 21st century. That's the first item of business I'd drop on the doorstep of Congress.
Eight candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination faced off against each other last night at the Ronald Reagan Library in California. During the 1-hour, 45-minute debate, the candidates all spoke about the need to create jobs and attacked President Obama for failing to do more on that front.
However, not a single candidate made mention of manufacturing jobs. In fact, the debate transcript reveals that there was not a single mention of the word “manufacturing.” The closest any of the candidates got to this topic was when Jon Huntsman was asked if he agreed with Mitt Romney’s plan to label China a currency manipulator. His weak response, which we’ve included below, was not what we should expect from the candidate who wants to be seen as the intellectual alternative:
Q: Governor Huntsman, as you know, Governor Romney's new economic plan calls for the U.S. government to officially label China a currency manipulator, But "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page says such a move would cause a trade war, perhaps.
You're a former ambassador to China. You have served four U.S. presidents. In your view, what does Governor Romney not get about China?
HUNTSMAN: He doesn't get the part that what will fix the U.S- China relationship, realistically, is fixing our core right here at home, because our core is weak, and it is broken, and we have no leverage at the negotiating table.
And I'd have to say, Mitt, now is not the time in a recession to enter a trade war. Ronald Reagan flew this plane. I was in China during the trip in 1984. He went on TV, he spoke to the Chinese people -- I'd love to do that too, in Chinese itself -- and he talked in optimistic, glowing terms.
And it reminds me about this, Ryan, we are the most blue sky, optimistic people on earth. We're going to find solutions, and I have an offer for the two great governors over here.
And I hate to rain on the parade of the Lone Star governor, but as governor of Utah, we were the number one job creator in this country during my years of service. That was 5.9 percent when you were creating jobs at 4.9 percent.
And to my good friend, Mitt, 47 just ain't going to cut it, my friend, not when you can be first. We've got to remember, that to beat President Obama, we have to have somebody who's been in the private sector, understands the fragility of the free market system, has been a successful governor as it relates to job creation, and knows something about this world.
I've lived overseas four times, I've been an ambassador to my country three times, I think I understand that.
The American people are angry at Washington for not doing enough to create jobs. Anybody who wants to run the country needs to listen to what the people want: jobs, jobs, jobs.
Read the transcript here.
Jon Huntsman released his full Jobs Plan this week. In this 12-page paper entitled “Time to Compete: An American Jobs Plan,” Huntsman lays out his ideas to create jobs and strengthen the economy. In the speech where he rolled out his plan, he noted that
“When I was born, manufacturing comprised 25 percent of our GDP. Today, it’s down to around 10 percent. This does not reflect a decline in American ingenuity or work ethic; it reflects our government’s failure to adapt to the realities of the 21st Century economy.
We need American entrepreneurs not only thinking of products like the IPhone or Segway; we need American workers building those products. It’s time for Made in America to mean something again.”
However, his only mention of “manufacturing” in “Time to Compete” is when he advocates curbing the power of the National Labor Relations Board, which is among a whole host of proposed rollbacks of regulations and regulatory agency authorities. He also advocates a whole host of new Free Trade agreements and – perhaps most striking for our former Ambassador to China – makes no mention of currency manipulation.
Read the enite plan here.
Jon Huntsman came out swinging on Mitt Romney’s business ties with China. As Romney has been critical of President Obama’s weak stance on China, it’s curious that his former company, Bain Capital (an investment firm, not a manufacturer) has taken a leading role in helping Chinese firms buy out American technology companies. Of course, Romney left Bain in 1999, but the company still has a long record of business with state-owned enterprises in China.