House passes new trade restriction bill
The House on Wednesday fired a warning shot at China by passing a bill with strong bipartisan support that would raise tariffs on Chinese imports if the Asian giant keeps an artificial lid on its currency.
Republicans from industrial states joined most Democrats in giving new powers to the Commerce Department to consider whether China's policy of tying the value of its currency to the dollar, rather than allowing it to rise in response to market forces, represents an unfair trade practice.
The vote was 348-79, with all but five Democrats and 74 Republicans voting in favor.
"Talk doesn't work," said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander M. Levin, rejecting protests from the Obama administration — like the Bush administration before it — that the best way to persuade China to abandon its practices is to use quiet diplomacy in international forums.
China promised to loosen its currency restrictions this past spring in response to international pressures, but the Chinese yuan or renminbi has risen by less than 2 percent since then. Economists estimate that it is undervalued by as much as 40 percent.
"A 25 percent to 40 percent tilt against us is unacceptable," said Mr. Levin, Michigan Democrat. "This bill says we cannot and will not look the other way. We are going to act." . . .
Obama was the same guy who imposed steep tariffs on tires:
A 35 percent duty will be set on the tires from China for a year, followed by a 30 percent tariff for a second year and a 25 percent tariff for a third year. The tariffs come in addition to a 4 percent tariff already applied.
The petition for the tariffs was brought by the United Steelworkers union, which argued that increased imports from China had led to the closure of U.S. plants and elimination of U.S. jobs. . . .