Ripon Forum - November 2018

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Joni Ernst looks back on her first four years in office: “I work hard every day to keep the promises that I have made.”

November 2018 Volume 52, No. 5

Promises made, Promises kept. Cathy McMorris Rodgers on the Republican effort to cut taxes, reduce red tape, and strengthen our national defense.

Plus: Kay Granger on the push to rebuild America’s military.

Juanita Duggan on why small business optimism is at an all-time high.

And: Deborah Wince-Smith on the U.S. manufacturing renaissance.

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“Ideas that matter, since 1965.“ Volume 52, Number 5 Cover Story

Special Report (cont’d.)


Promises Made, Promises Kept By Cathy McMorris Rodgers After years of slow growth and a lack of confidence, Americans asked for a better way. From cutting taxing to strengthing our national defense, the 115th Congress has shown that we found it.


A View from Northampton County, PA By Christopher P. Borick “Nothstein’s allegiance to Trump appears to be more of a burden than a boost as the mid-terms draw near.”


How We Rebuilt America’s Military By Kay Granger The bipartisan budget agreement passed earlier this year has enabled us to deliver what we’ve long promised: making sure our troops have the training and equipment they need.


A View from Trumbull County, OH By Adam Fuller “Trump’s single greatest achievement is his tearing up of NAFTA.“

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The State of the Small Business Economy Heading into the Midterms By Juanita D. Duggan In August, the NFIB Optimism Index soared to a record high of 108.8, breaking the 1983 record of 108 that occurred during the Administration of President Reagan.


A View from Macomb County, MI By David A. Dulio & John S. Klemanski “Macomb residents are sticking with President Trump.”


A View from Kenosha County, WI By Arthur I. Cyr “Kenosha County reflects both traditional Democratic Party roots and recent Republican strength.”

America is Building Things Again By Deborah Wince-Smith The U.S. has gained back 15,000 manufacturing establishments and more than a million manufacturing jobs, with 278,000 of those jobs coming in the past year alone.

Special Report -- checking in with the counties that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 after supporting Barack Obama in 2008 & 2012 12

A View from Dubuque County, IA By Christopher Budzisz “The current picture of Iowa and Dubuque is that it is not yet firmly Trump Country.” Publisher The Ripon Society

Editor Lou Zickar

President Jim Conzelman

Editorial Assistant Kyle Chance

Editorial Board Thomas Tauke Michael Castle Billy Pitts Pamela Sederholm Judy Van Rest Jim Murtha John Feehery

Advertising Coordinator Asher Kaithern Editorial Intern William Clutterbuck © Copyright 2018 By The Ripon Society All Rights Reserved

Politics & Perspective 22

Leveling the Playing Field with China By Simon Lester & Huan Zhu China’s wealth has grown significantly in recent decades, yet some of its trade practices remain rooted in its past as a fairly poor country.

Sections 3

In this Edition


News & Events - Breakfast with the Majority Leader


Ripon Profile - U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst

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RIPON FORUM November 2018

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THE RIPON SOCIETY HONORARY CONGRESSIONAL ADVISORY BOARD U.S. Senators: Shelley Moore Capito - Senate Co-Chair Cory Gardner - Senate Co-Chair Roy Blunt Richard Burr Bill Cassidy, M.D. Susan M. Collins Steve Daines Joni Ernst Deb Fischer Orrin G. Hatch John Hoeven Jerry Moran Pat Roberts Mike Rounds Thom Tillis Roger Wicker Todd Young U.S. Representatives: Susan W. Brooks - House Chair Martha Roby - Vice Chair, South Erik Paulsen - Vice Chair, Midwest Bill Shuster - Vice Chair, Northeast Greg Walden - Vice Chair, West Mark Amodei Don Bacon Andy Barr Mike Bishop Diane Black Marsha Blackburn Vern Buchanan Larry Bucshon, M.D. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. Ken Calvert Tom Cole Barbara Comstock Ryan Costello Carlos Curbelo Rodney Davis Jeff Denham Charlie Dent Dan Donovan Sean Duffy Tom Emmer Bill Flores Rodney Frelinghuysen Kay Granger Sam Graves French Hill Bill Huizenga Randy Hultgren Darrell Issa Evan Jenkins Lynn Jenkins Dave Joyce John Katko Mike Kelly Adam Kinzinger Darin LaHood Leonard Lance Billy Long Frank Lucas Tom MacArthur Tom Marino Kevin McCarthy Michael McCaul Cathy McMorris Rodgers John Moolenaar Kristi Noem Bruce Poliquin John Ratcliffe Tom Reed Jim Renacci Tom Rice Tom Rooney Peter Roskam Steve Scalise John Shimkus Lamar Smith Steve Stivers Glenn Thompson Mac Thornberry Mike Turner Fred Upton Jackie Walorski Mimi Walters Brad Wenstrup Steve Womack

In this Edition

Like a lot of other people who moved to the Washington area from somewhere else, I often check my hometown newspaper to stay on top of what is happening in the area where I grew up. My hometown paper is the Youngstown Vindicator. In the 32 years since I moved away, the news has often been pretty grim. The area has one of the highest crime rates in the nation, more people are moving away from the area than moving in, and a report last year called Youngstown the most distressed small, mid-sized city in the U.S. Truth be told, it’s been that way for quite a while a now. Most people say the turning point in the area occurred on September 19, 1977. Referred to today as “Black Monday,” it was the day that Youngstown Sheet & Tube announced it was closing the Campbell works, the largest steel mill in the area. In all, 5,000 people lost their jobs that day. And as Salena Zito reported last year for the New York Post, it was only just the beginning. “Within a decade, 40,000 jobs were gone,” Zito wrote. “Within that same decade, 50,000 people had left the region, and by the next decade, that number was up to 100,000. Today the 22 miles of booming steel mills and the support industries that once lined the Mahoning River have mostly disappeared — either blown up, dismantled or reclaimed by nature. If a bomb had hit this region, the scar would be no less severe on its landscape.” Which brings me back to the Youngstown Vindicator. A few weeks ago, the paper published an article that was headlined: “Local manufacturing companies struggling to fill open jobs.” The article talked about how area businesses which were producing products ranging from steel pipes to electromagnets were having problems finding qualified workers for positions that paid up to sixfigures. The problems are due not only to a shortage of skilled trades workers, but to the fact that many who are skilled are also addicted to opioids and are therefore unable to pass the drug test that is required to get the job. It is a serious problem, and one that, to their credit, lawmakers like Senator Rob Portman are working to address. And while it clearly represents something of a challenge for companies in the Youngstown area, it also represents, for all intents and purposes, a surprising bit of good news for an area that has not seen much in recent years. Which is why it caught my eye. It also reminded me of another surprise I saw in the area in recent years. This surprise occurred during a visit my wife Lisa and I made to the area in October of 2016. Driving through the area around Youngstown and Lisa’s hometown just across the border in western Pennsylvania, we were both struck by the number of yard signs we saw. For every one yard sign we saw for Hillary Clinton, we saw nine for Donald Trump. Now, anecdotes can be a dangerous thing in politics. They present you with a snapshot when, more often than not, the bigger picture must also be viewed. Usually, only in hindsight does it become apparent that an anecdote represents something more — a surprise at the time that is part of a bigger trend. Seeing an overwhelming number of Trump yard signs in overwhelmingly Democratic areas of Ohio and Pennsylvania in October 2016 was clearly a surprise. When he won both states two weeks later, it was clearly something more. Today, I wonder the same thing about that article in the Youngstown Vindicator. Pick up the paper or turn on the news here in Washington, and all you read about or see is the latest reporting on Trump’s Tweets or the Mueller probe or the latest scandal to rock DC. Make no mistake -- I think that many of these matters, especially the question of Russian interference in our elections, merit reporting and investigation. But when I think about the people in Youngstown, I wonder — are they paying attention to that, as well? Or are they more interested in the surprising bit of good news they read about in their hometown newspaper that, they hope, after all these years of misery, turns into something more? We’ll have a better sense of these and other questions when Americans cast their ballots in the mid-terms on November 6th. In the meantime, we are publishing this special pre-election edition of The Ripon Forum to examine some of the accomplishments in Congress over the past two years, and some of the issues people will be thinking about when they vote. As with all of our editions, we appreciate your readership, and welcome any comments you may have. Lou Zickar, Editor RIPON FORUM November 2018


Cover Story

Promises made, Promises kept. Republicans came into office two years ago saying they were going to cut taxes, reduce red tape and strengthen our national defense. They’ve accomplished all of those things -and more.

by CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS Two years ago, House Republicans laid out a bold policy agenda called A Better Way to tackle some of the biggest challenges of the day. At the time, I said that restoring the people’s voice in Congress is not just one part of our Better Way agenda -- it’s the most important part. Because unless people are back in the driver’s seat, we won’t be able to rebuild our military, roll back the red tape, or help our most vulnerable. Only ‘we, the people’ know the way to achieve our dreams – not the government. I still believe that. It’s the voice of the American people – their stories, their struggles, their hopes and dreams -- that inspired our Better Way. We promised to 4

focus on their priorities for a safer, stronger, and more secure America. We’ve kept those promises and as a result, the American people are seeing jobs, opportunity, and confidence come roaring back. Thanks to tax reform and our work to repeal a record 16 Obama administration regulations, the economy is booming. America was just named the world’s most competitive economy. There are a record 7 million job openings, wages are rising, and consumer confidence has hit an 18-year high. In all 10 counties I represent, wages have grown between 3 and 9 percent. Behind all these numbers are real people who are dreaming again because they are optimistic about the future.

RIPON FORUM November 2018

Take for example, a furniture store in my district troops’ lives and threatened our national security. In called the Tin Roof. The owners of this family owned 2017, more troops were killed in training accidents than business told me that business is better and more in combat. That same year, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis people are walking into their store to buy higher quality warned Congress that America had diminished military furniture. Tin Roof is expanding, purchasing two new might. He said, “Every operating domain – including trucks, increasing wages, and, for the first time in nearly outer space, air, sea, undersea, land and cyberspace – is a decade, they are offering health insurance to their contested.” employees again. These are the exact results we said were So just like we did with our economy, Republicans possible if we put power back in the hands of people in in Congress promised and delivered on a Better Way to our communities. keep America safe. In addition to giving our troops their Remember, the overall unemployment rate was 9.9 biggest pay raise in almost a decade, we provided for percent in 2010. Last month, it was 3.7 percent, the the largest year-to-year increase in defense funding in 15 lowest it’s been in nearly a years. Now our troops will half century. Middle-class have more resources for income hit a record high training and to complete last year. In my home state their missions around the of Washington, the average world so they can return wage increase is at a 10home safely. year high. This is what a America is stronger booming economy looks at home and abroad, with like, and it’s this economic a booming economy, resurgence that is helping safer communities, and people across the country. a stronger military. Of In fact, more people with course, more work remains, disabilities are finding but Republican policies are work and a job that gives helping improve people’s them purpose. The Hispanic lives and making it easier unemployment rate is the for families to get ahead, lowest on record, and the with a renewed sense of black unemployment rate is confidence for the future. the lowest in 10 years. After years of slow In a stronger economy growth and lack of with rising wages and confidence, Americans record-breaking optimism, asked for a better way. Our Thanks to tax reform and we’ve also worked to make work proves that we found our work to repeal a record sure our communities are it. We’ve kept our promise stronger and safer. to the American people to 16 Obama administration We’ve made a historic restore their voice and put regulations, the economy is investment in the fight their priorities first. That’s against opioid addiction why our country is better booming. There are a record to help our communities off now, and why we need 7 million job openings, wages prevent and recover from to keep this momentum are rising, and consumer this crisis. Additionally, going. While some are important legislation was trying to distract from confidence has hit enacted to fight the scourge this record of results and an 18-year high. of human trafficking, target stop all the progress we’ve dangerous criminals, protect made, I’m here to say that communities from gangs like MS-13, and improve school we are just getting started. RF safety. We’ve also taken important steps to secure our nation Cathy McMorris Rodgers represents Washington’s 5th from threats abroad. After the Obama administration Congressional District. She is the chairwoman of the House left our Armed Forces depleted, we made good on our Republican Conference, the lead communications arm of promise to restore and rebuild our military. the House Republican leadership team. She is the fourthWhen our military was forced to do more with less, highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives. it created a readiness crisis that has jeopardized our You can follow her on Twitter: @cathymcmorris RIPON FORUM November 2018


How We Rebuilt America’s Military by KAY GRANGER

When Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen What did the Appropriations “minibus” funding bill that asked me to serve as the Chairwoman of the House Defense President Trump signed last month do for our national security? Appropriations Subcommittee two years ago, I knew I had one First, it included an additional $17 billion to continue to major challenge facing me: how to devote the resources we need rebuild our military and ensure our warfighters are ready for any to rebuild our military. threat. This is on top of a history-making Defense Appropriations I wanted to not just reverse the destructive sequester cuts bill for FY19, signed into law this summer, which funded the of the Obama era, but ensure that we equipped our armed largest single increase in defense spending in fifteen years. forces with the resources they needed to address a devastating Second, it included significant efforts to help rebuild our readiness crisis. I didn’t want to just make up for previous cuts; armed forces and support our service members, including: I wanted to transform our military and make it better than ever. -Fully funding a 2.6 percent pay raise for our troops—the Thanks to leadership on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue over largest in nine years. the last two years, we’ve moved from -Funding the procurement of new aging equipment and undertrained troops equipment, including 13 Navy ships, 93 to a historic defense buildup. F-35 aircraft, 18 C-130J aircraft, 58 UHHow did we do it? Early last year, I 60 Black Hawk helicopters, 13 V-22 worked with Secretary of Defense James aircraft, and the upgrade of 135 Abrams Mattis to develop a plan to fully fund our tanks. military. Secretary Mattis told me that the -Providing for an increase of 16,400 money is important, but giving it to us in our total troop end strength. on time so we have time to plan and to -Funding research and build is really the most important thing. development into new defense systems Thanks to his leadership, we in Congress and technologies, including the F-35 were able to deliver a historic increase in Joint Strike Fighter, nuclear force defense spending while at the same time modernization, and the Ohio-class funding the military on time for the first submarine replacement. time in 10 years. -Caring for service members and For the Pentagon, stability and military forces with funding above the For years, our military predictability are critical. Yet for years, president’s request for cancer research, our military has been subject to stopgap traumatic brain injury research, and has been subject to funding and a string of continuing sexual assault prevention. stopgap funding and resolutions. Not anymore. This budget After years of devastating cuts, a string of continuing uncertainty exacerbated a staggering we’re now rebuilding our military like readiness crisis. we never have before. We know that our resolutions. Not Last year, Secretary Mattis said freedom depends upon the might of our anymore. that making the Pentagon operate under military, and we know that if we fund our continuing resolutions is “about as military, no enemy on Earth can match unwise as could be.” He added: “It just creates unpredictability. the strength, courage, and skill of the U.S. Armed Forces. It makes us rigid. We cannot deal with new and revealing threats. Now that this bill is law, Secretary Mattis is getting what he We know our enemies are not standing still.” General Dunford, needs to build a more agile, lethal 21st-century fighting force. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said earlier this year, “That We are finally giving our military the support it needs and we are lack of predictability and that lack of stability in the budget has giving our country the national security it deserves. RF not allowed us to most efficiently plan and use the resources available to us.” They are both right. And the way we’ve been Kay Granger is a Republican congresswoman from Fort funding defense on a piecemeal basis is wrong. Worth, representing the 12th District of Texas. Elected in The two-year, bipartisan budget agreement that was 1996, she currently serves as the Chairwoman of the House approved earlier this year has enabled us to finally deliver what Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. She is seeking the full we’ve long promised: making sure our women and men in the House Appropriations Committee chairmanship for the 116th Congress. military have the training and the equipment they need. 6

RIPON FORUM November 2018

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The State of the Small Business Economy Heading into the Midterms by J U A N I TA D . D U G G A N

For the past 23 months, small businesses have shown a Consult, found that more than seven in ten Americans streak of optimism never seen before. With small businesses often purchase goods and services from small businesses. employing nearly half the nation’s workforce and accounting Small and independent businesses make up more than 99 for almost half of the GDP, when small businesses do well, it percent of all U.S. businesses, and their plans to grow and boosts the entire economy. increase compensation affect all our communities. When I travel around the country to meet with NFIB Business is, indeed, booming on Main Street, and members, I hear “business is booming” from almost everyone. Congress has an important role in helping sustain this Business is so good that they can’t find historic growth. For years, our enough workers to keep up with the members have cited taxes as a demand. The statistics back up the top concern. The 20 percent small anecdotes. business pass-through deduction, For 45 years, NFIB has taken the created in the Tax Cuts and Jobs pulse of the small business economy by Act passed last year, finally gave surveying small business owners about small businesses tax relief that their business operations. The survey was long overdue. But the small is called the Small Business Economic business deduction expires in ten Trends (SBET) report, or Optimism years, while the corporate tax cut Index. In August, the NFIB Optimism is permanent. It is crucial that Index soared to a record high of 108.8, Congress make the small business breaking the 1983 record of 108 under deduction permanent so that small President Reagan. business owners can be certain and The NFIB Optimism Index is make the right decisions so that made up of ten questions – half are they can hire, increase wages, and about business owners’ expectations in grow their businesses. Juanita D. Duggan the next three to six months; the other That’s why this midterm half are about actual business activity. election is so important -- there is In August, the NFIB The Optimism Index has long been a more work to be done. Pro-small leading economic indicator because business control of Congress is on Optimism Index soared when owners report high expectations the line in November. In addition to a record high of 108.8, to prominent issues like making for the economy, about six months later they spend money to invest and grow breaking the 1983 record the small business pass-through their businesses, creating growth. In deduction permanent, many of 108 under President 2017, NFIB members reported high crucial issues are on the ballot in Reagan. expectations. In 2018, they invested statehouses across the country that in real business activity based on those determine whether small businesses expectations, and the result is four succeed or fail. percent growth in GDP. Fortunately, small business The Optimism all-time record set in August was owners are active and they’re not willing to cede the dominated by real business activity. This year has produced ground we’ve gained in the last two years. At NFIB, we 45-year record high measures of job openings, hiring plans, make sure that our members know exactly how their actual compensation increases, and profit growth. Capital elected officials voted. Consider that a small business spending plans and inventory investment plans both hit levels owner may have family, employees with families, and not seen in a decade. hundreds of thousands of customers, and it isn’t hard to Optimism among small business owners is good for all see how Small Business Voters can make the difference Americans. A recent NFIB survey, conducted by Morning in an election. 8

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In 2016, 264 NFIB endorsed candidates were elected to Congress. This cycle, we’ve endorsed 274 candidates for Congress. When NFIB-endorsed candidates, which include many small business owners, are elected to office, they have a proven record of supporting and passing policies that contribute to a robust small business economy. The state of small business is the strongest in a half century, but to sustain this level of success we must be proactive both legislatively and politically. The next Congress could determine whether the small business passthrough deduction is made permanent or if it is repealed, the next Supreme Court nominee makes it through the

Senate, or small business owners receive healthcare cost relief. It is imperative that all who care about the future of small business turn out to vote and hold elected officials accountable for how they vote. RF Juanita D. Duggan is the President & CEO of NFIB. NFIB is the voice of small business, advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven. Since their founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses, and remains so today.


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America is Building Things Again

Now, let’s turn this rebound into a renaissance by DEBORAH WINCE-SMITH

The American manufacturing sector matters, for its pivotal optimize their operations and supply chains. The autonomous role in driving U.S. economic growth, value added and job systems coming to factories will detect and react to problems, creation across the economy, for its critical role in innovation and adapt machinery and systems to changing conditions. and as the largest funder of U.S. R&D, and for its indispensable New revolutionary technologies – from nanotechnology and role in U.S. national security. biomanufacturing, to 3-D printing and artificial intelligence – U.S. manufacturing stands at a crossroads. A deep transition will offer a host of new opportunities for product innovations. in the world order of production But this is no time to take a during the 2000s leveled a severe breather with competitive challengers blow. From 2001-2013, we lost about breathing down our neck, particularly 62,800 manufacturing establishments a rapidly strengthening China that and, from 2001-2010, we lost about 5 has taken aim at world leadership in million manufacturing jobs. technology and the geopolitical power Now U.S. manufacturing is that confers. China’s investment rebounding. We’ve gained back 15,000 in R&D has more than doubled manufacturing establishments and more since 2010, reaching $451 billion in than a million manufacturing jobs, with 2016 – which is second only to U.S. 278,000 of those jobs coming in the past investment, and set to outpace the year alone. Private fixed investment United States by the end of this decade. in industrial equipment is surging, up China has overtaken the United $100 billion to more than $240 billion States in science and engineering annually compared to 2010, while real publications, has posted double-digit gross private investment in R&D is up growth rates in international patent more than $115 billion annually since filings in every year since 2003, and Deborah Wince-Smith 2010, reaching more than $408 billion now lags behind only the United States a year. in patents filed. While the United States Manufacturers are optimistic after remains the world leader in high-tech We’ve gained back a long-needed cut in the corporate tax manufacturing, with a 31 percent 15,000 manufacturing rate to a globally competitive level, and global share and growing output, with the promise of reduced regulatory establishments and more China has a 24 percent share and is burdens, new trade agreements in the closing the gap with the United States. than a million manufacworks, and a crackdown to protect Abundant U.S. energy, and American intellectual property. Energy the unprecedented flow of new turing jobs, with 278,000 and manufacturing are inextricably technologies transforming the U.S. of those jobs coming in linked and, thanks to new technology, manufacturing sector and raising the past year alone. U.S. energy is more abundant than its potential for innovation, can ever. As the world’s top producer of be America’s springboard for its natural gas and petroleum, the United future competitiveness, productivity, States is producing at record levels. With energy a major cost economic growth, and higher wage jobs. But an outdated factor in production, lower cost supplies mean greater global regulatory and physical infrastructure, lack of a coordinated competitiveness for many U.S. producers. research agenda, insufficiently-funded R&D, and a skills gap At the same time, U.S. manufacturers are transforming could hold us back. their operations in the midst of an ever-evolving digital The bipartisan Council on Competitiveness just released disruption, using sensors, networks, computing, and big data to Accelerate: Turbocharging the Manufacturing Renaissance 10

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in an Era of Energy Abundance, a policy roadmap of concrete must support and accelerate advanced technology development actions to take to help unleash America’s strengths, boost our in the United States from start-up to scale-up. Actions to spur manufacturing engines, and raise technology commercialization broader deployment of the Internet of Things and cyber secure systems, and greater exploitation of the data tsunami are to new heights. High on the policy agenda is creating a modern regulatory needed. Finally, we must take steps to ensure our workforce is infrastructure that keeps pace with innovation and does not create capable of succeeding in a hyper-connected, hyper-competitive advanced technology-based unnecessary burdens on economy. advancing new technologies This is no time to take a breather We can either seize to the marketplace. We the opportunity in front must break the cycle of with competitive challengers of us or watch others take incremental infrastructure breathing down our neck, the lead. If we act now, improvements, with major better leveraging and increases in Federal and state particularly a rapidly optimizing our competitive investment for repairs and strengthening China. assets for this new era modernization. As we do of technology disruption so, we must also look to the future, to deploying a transformative 21st century infrastructure and transformation, we can extend our rebound into a bold, with intelligent roads and highways, smart grids, automated productive, and prosperous manufacturing renaissance. RF transit, and smart energy-efficient cities. Increasing Federal R&D investment will help reaffirm Deborah Wince-Smith is President and CEO of the Council U.S. leadership in knowledge creation, and our national on Competitiveness, a bipartisan leadership organization of research agenda should be aligned with disruptive technologies corporate CEOs, university presidents, labor leaders, and with high potential for economic and social impact. To help national laboratory directors dedicated to advancing U.S. ensure our research investments return economic gains, we competitiveness in the global economy.

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Special Report

A View from

Dubuque County

“The current picture of Iowa and Dubuque is that it is not yet firmly Trump Country.” by CHRISTOPHER B. BUDZISZ Nearly two years since their election, President Trump is that it is not yet firmly Trump Country. It is contested and Vice President Pence’s repeated trips to Iowa underscore ground, and the president’s approval ratings in Iowa largely the current political realities in the state, including here in mirror that of the country. This fuels the president and Dubuque. Despite strong economic conditions, Republican vice-president’s continued focus. In a visit to Dubuque vulnerability is a prominent part of that reality this cycle. this summer, President Trump participated in a workforce The President’s success in states such as Iowa was a key development event at the local community college. As he to his 2016 victory, and the state delivered his remarks, a green hat remains vital for his and the was conspicuously present in front Republican Party’s fortunes in of him. The hat read “Make Our 2018 and into the next presidential Farmers Great Again.” A variation cycle of 2020. of his ubiquitous campaign theme, The toss-up gubernatorial the hat served as a tangible symbol contest between the incumbent of both the president’s pitfall and Republican Governor Kim promise for voters here in Northeast Reynolds and Democrat Fred Iowa. Hubbell, as well as the tight The pitfalls include fallout from contest in the Iowa Third District trade unrest threatening farmers between the incumbent Republican and industrial interests, as markets Congressman David Young and such as China started to close as Democratic challenger Cindy part of an escalating trade conflict. Axne typify GOP vulnerability Dubuque is home to both significant this year. Dubuque’s Republican agricultural interests as well as a Christopher B. Budzisz Congressman, Rod Blum, John Deere production facility, and represents Iowa’s First District the impact of trade conflicts and Dubuque is home to both and is cited as among the most tariffs became prominent issues for endangered incumbents in the voters over the past year. Anxiety significant agricultural country due to the composition of was particularly acute for those interests as well as a John the district and its voting history. who had cast a reluctant vote for Blum has been outraised by his Trump in 2016. The promise part Deere production facility, opponent, State Representative of the equation is President Trump’s and the impact of trade Abby Finkenauer, although Blum self-styled hard-nosed approach to conflicts and tariffs retains a cash on hand advantage. negotiation, which he claims will This edge is substantially blunted ultimately deliver for farmers and became prominent by the sheer amount of Super industry in negotiations with China issues for voters over PAC money pouring in to aid and other prominent markets such Finkenauer’s efforts. Estimates as Canada and Mexico. the past year. indicate Representative Blum The recent unveiling of the is being outspent ten to one in prosaically named United States advertising. However, the Congressional Leadership Fund Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) was well timed to just announced its first ad buy in the district, and two recent reassure voters, as was his most recent trip to Iowa just this internal polls released by the Blum campaign show a much month, when the president announced a rule change allowing closer race than the limited public polling. for year-round sales of ethanol. Such a development, which Taken together, the current picture of Iowa and Dubuque would be largely ignored in other parts of the country, was 12

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of affairs. Many such voters here comment on the tenor particularly welcomed in Iowa by corngrowers. While the and conduct of politics in Washington, with President farm bill remains stalled in Congress, the administration Trump at the center of such discussions. announced financial support for farmers. On the ground, The fundamentals of Iowa’s First District favor support for the president remains strong in the rural parts Finkenauer. If she does unseat Blum, as many predict, of Dubuque. There is little sign that rural voters in the the result will likely be due primarily to the political area who voted Republican in 2016 are ready to leave for environment, and not to the Democrats in 2018. the particular strength There have been moments of concern by these voters The recent unveiling of the prosaically of the challenger. Blum has proven resilient, due to the trade conflicts, named United States Mexico Canada and he has been and, should market outspent before, but the pressures continue over Agreement was well-timed to reassure 2018 environment may the longer term, support voters, as was the President’s most simply be too much. may soften. recent trip to Iowa just this month. What remains to be Given the seen is whether other competitiveness of the vulnerable Republicans electoral landscape, in the state find themselves caught up as well. Whatever the outcome of the November elections will come down the outcome, it is safe to say that Iowa will remain to voters without strong party allegiances, especially in contested ground, and President Trump will remain a suburban areas. Such voters often sit out midterms, but for presence here one way or the other. RF those who do participate, the impression of Washington is often one of growing dysfunction. While stalwarts of both Christopher B. Budzisz is Associate Professor of Politics at parties readily see the other side as the main culprit in any Loras College and the Director of the Loras College Poll. dysfunction, centrist minded voters lament the general state

Dubuque, iowa RIPON FORUM November 2018


A View from

Northampton County

“Nothstein’s allegiance to Trump appears to be more of a burden than a boost as the mid-terms draw near.” by CHRISTOPHER P. BORICK In the Summer of 2017, I authored a piece in The Ripon Commonwealth’s constitution. For residents of Northampton Forum that examined Northampton County, Pennsylvania County and the broader Lehigh Valley region, this meant and its status as one of only three counties in Pennsylvania that the 2018 congressional race would be contested on carried by both Donald Trump and Barack Obama. dramatically different terrain. While Northampton County I concluded the piece by writing: “An election map of had been divided among two districts under the previous Pennsylvania shows Northampton County to be surrounded district lines, the entire county was placed in the same district by counties that Hillary Clinton under the new plan. carried, leaving Northampton an Long-term Republican island of Trump electoral strength. Congressman Charlie Dent, who had But as waves develop in politics, represented most of Northampton as in oceans, islands are often the County, announced his retirement places that feel the changes first and from Congress in the Fall of 2017 most directly.” before the redistricting occurred. Now as the much anticipated Dent had become one of the most 2018 mid-term election approaches prominent House Republican critics Trump’s “Northampton Island” is of Trump, and while there are indeed feeling the push of strong numerous factors that may have led political currents that may once to his decision to step aside, a likely again alter the political landscape of primary battle was certainly not an this pivotal region of the Keystone attractive option for the long-term State. representative. With Dent on the Signals of the tenuous hold that sidelines, the Republican primary Christopher P. Borick the GOP maintained in Northampton to replace him saw the candidates County after President Trump’s declare strong support for President win there emerged in late 2017 in Signals of the tenuous hold Trump in a bid to win favor with the form of local election results. GOP primary voters in the district that the GOP maintained Democrats had tremendous success who polls showed overwhelmingly across county-wide elections in a approved of the 45th President’s in Northampton County county that President Trump carried work in office. The winner of the after President Trump’s by 4% a year earlier, knocking off Republican primary in the new the incumbent Republican County win there emerged in late 7th Congressional District, Marty Executive and claiming a majority Nothstein, went “all in” with the 2017 in the form of local of the seats on the County Council President during the primary. But election results. for the first time in about a decade. in a district that had moved from a A more granular look at voting +8 Trump margin under the old lines districts across the county indicates to a +1 Clinton advantage under the many “Trump Districts” flipping to Democratic majorities in new lines, Nothstein’s allegiance to Trump appears to be these off-year contests. more of a burden than a boost as the mid-terms draw near. As the calendar turned to 2018, the political landscape Since the summer of 2017, The Muhlenberg College in Northampton County was further altered by a landmark Institute of Public Opinion has polled the Northampton County decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In February, region a number of times and found President Trump’s standing the Court ordered the state’s 18 congressional districts to locally to be near state and national averages, with approval be redrawn for what they identified as a violation of the ratings hovering around the 40% mark. The gender gap that 14

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appears to be ever-expanding since 2016 is particularly robust a place where he was victorious two years earlier. In 2016, Donald Trump’s ability to win Northampton in Northampton County, with approval of the President among women in the region consistently in the mid-30s, compared to County was pivotal as he secured Pennsylvania’s 20 mid- to upper-40s among local men. Notably, the Democrats Electoral College votes in what amounted to one of his have selected local attorney Susan Wild as their nominee in most impressive and unexpected victories. Nearly two the newly constructed 7th District, as she attempts to become years removed from Trump’s triumph in this Pennsylvania county nestled along the first women to ever the Delaware River, represent Northampton County in Congress. As the calendar turned to 2018, the political it appears that he has solidified loyalty While President landscape in Northampton County was among many of his Trump is not on the further altered by a landmark decision of ballot in Northampton 2016 supporters, but that his broader County this the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. reach within this November, one of his region has eroded. closest proxies is. In In early November it will become apparent if that the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania, a Trump acolyte, Congressman Lou Barletta, is seeking to unseat two-term erosion in Northampton County will not only contribute to Democratic incumbent Bob Casey Jr. Barletta was one of the loss of a congressional seat for his party, but add to a the earliest supporters of Trump’s presidential bid, and the wave that could jeopardize Trump’s agenda in the remaining RF President encouraged Barletta to run and has campaigned two years of his term. for him in the state. Polls show Barletta trailing badly in the race, including in the Lehigh Valley region, and a substantial Christopher P. Borick, Ph.D., is a Professor of Political defeat of Barletta in Northampton County will be read by Science and the Director of the Muhlenberg College many as a sign of Trump’s diminished standing and clout in Institute of Public Opinion.

bethlehem, pennsylvania RIPON FORUM November 2018


A View from

Trumbull County

“Trump’s single greatest achievement is his tearing up of NAFTA.“ by A D A M L . F U L L E R Resonating most of all are Trump’s protectionist Although Trumbull County is a Democratic Party stronghold in congressional politics, presidential trade policies. What many people in other parts of the country see as a frightening trade war, Trumbull elections are not about partisan loyalty in this area. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-13), who represents County voters see as a Herculean fight for America’s most of the county and who challenged Nancy Pelosi national interests against the forces of greed and the for leadership of the House Democratic Caucus in do-gooders who expect Americans to make sacrifices without getting anything back in 2017, will easily coast to rereturn. election against his Republican A very significant industry in challenger. Similarly, U.S. Sen. this county is steel. Trump’s steel Sherrod Brown can also count and aluminum tariffs are seen as on getting the Trumbull County a step in the right direction to vote in his bid for re-election bring back manufacturing jobs this year. to this area. While Trump’s President Trump, on the promise at the Youngstown other hand, appears to be holding airport in 2016 to restore the the same high level of support in city’s abandoned steel mills has this county that he got in 2016. not happened and probably never His public approval has dipped will, people in Trumbull County here, but only marginally. The see successes in similar cities question, then, is what accounts that give them hope that the for Trump’s popularity in this future will be bright here, too. county? Adam L. Fuller After Trump’s announcement of The simple answer is that the 25 percent tariff on imported they like what he is doing. steel, the steel factory in Granite At a recent rally in the What many people in City, Illinois that was closed in neighboring Rust Belt state other parts of the country 2015 has reopened, bringing of Indiana, President Trump declared mission accomplished see as a frightening trade over 500 laid-off workers back to work. in his goal of making America war, Trumbull County Perhaps what is seen here great again. He said his slogan voters see as a Herculean in Trumbull County as Trump’s would now be, “Keep America single greatest achievement is Great.” He cited strong fight for America’s his tearing up of NAFTA and economic numbers, trillions of national interests. replacing it with the USMCA. dollars of added wealth, and low The most locally significant unemployment. provision in the new agreement Accomplishments like these are music to the ears of the typical grass roots, working is one pertaining to the auto industry. It requires class, Democratic voter in the Rust Belt who put the autoworkers to be paid $16 an hour. This will likely President into office in 2016. It not only means that bring more jobs back to the U.S. from Mexico, because they have jobs and a feeling of job security, but that Mexican auto plants rarely pay more than $5 an hour. the policies set forth by the President are providing The local Chevy Cruze plant in Lordstown, Ohio them with a path back to the America they and their closed two of its shifts last year and laid off hundreds of workers. People in Trumbull County now feel parents once knew. 16

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hopeful that jobs will return as a result of Trump’s new area and Ohio in Washington for over four decades -- are in trouble this year because of their ineffectual agreement with our North American trading partners. Ron Verb, the local radio talk show host on WKBN, opposition to NAFTA? No – the roots of Democratic has been one of Trump’s most unflinching supporters. politics run too deep here. For that reason, Trumbull He, like many in this county who feel the same way, County will remain blue in November. But Trump has supported Barack Obama in the previous elections. He made a dent in this longtime Democratic stronghold. And if his policies continue bearing fruit, and if now feels utterly disappointed in the Democratic Party and most particularly with the local representatives the economic rebirth occurring in cities like Granite City occurs in to Congress who communities like have been longtime Lordstown that are opponents of Trumbull County will remain blue in closer to home, NAFTA. He thinks November. But Trump has made a dent in then I wouldn’t they say the right be surprised if things just to get this longtime Democratic stronghold. Republicans running votes but never for the House and actually take steps to replace NAFTA with an agreement that protects Senate get more than a passing glance by county voters RF Ohio’s interests. Every day on his radio show, Verb in 2020. praises Trump for doing in two years what our career Adam L. Fuller, Ph.D, is an Assistant Professor in the politicians have failed to do in decades. Does this mean that Tim Ryan and Sherrod Brown Department of Politics & International Relations at – who, between them, have been representing this Youngstown State University.

lordstown, ohio RIPON FORUM November 2018


A View from

Macomb County

“Macomb residents are sticking with President Trump.” by DAVID A. DULIO & JOHN S. KLEMANSKI In addition, Greenberg and his colleague Nancy Macomb County, Michigan was a major reason why Donald Trump carried Michigan and its 16 electoral votes in Zdunkewicz returned to Macomb earlier in 2018 to continue 2016. While Trump won the state’s popular vote by less than their research on voters in the County. One of their key 11,000 in 2016, he garnered 35,000 more votes than Mitt findings: “The majority of Trump voters, including all of the Romney, and Hillary Clinton earned 35,000 fewer than Barack white working-class men, say he is meeting their expectations.” Trump’s “no-nonsense” approach, the fact that he “doesn’t Obama four years before in Macomb County alone. The foundation for the strong performance in Macomb sugarcoat” his comments, and his “bravado against competition” can be traced back to the 1980s and Ronald Reagan. It was are three of the qualities supporters in Macomb like best. They also “feel vindicated that a in Macomb that Democratic businessman like Trump has pollster Stanley Greenberg produced a strong macrocoined the term Reagan economy and kept his Democrat. The Reagan promises on immigration. Democrats, Greenberg They continue to appreciate said, were voters who had how he speaks his mind, traditionally voted for unlike a typical politician.” Democratic presidential Moreover, Macomb voters candidates but felt are very positive about abandoned by their party, Trump’s “patriotic” stances liked Reagan’s vision and and his focus on “making strength of his convictions, America great again.” and voted for him in Interestingly, one area 1980 and 1984. Reagan where Trump and his allies Democrats were alive and arguably have some work well in 2016 and made David A. Dulio John S. Klemanski to do is on the tax cut that their presence felt as many passed in late 2017. It is voted for Donald Trump for Macomb voters are very positive somewhat surprising that it similar reasons. about Trump’s “patriotic” stances is not more popular across The question now is: the nation and some of that has the political dynamic and his focus on “making America sentiment can be seen in in Macomb changed in the great again.” Macomb. One Macomb two years since Trump’s resident in the Greenberg/ improbable victory? Zdunkewicz focus groups The short answer is a firm “no” – Macomb residents are sticking with President said, “The standardized deduction going up – that’s real good. Trump. The same kinds of qualities that drew votes to Trump in The $1,000 he’s saying extra we’re going to get here – it’s 2016 appear to be holding strong. Trump returned to Macomb OK.” A major factor in Macomb County in terms of perception – Washington Township, specifically – in early 2018 for a rally on the same night as the White House Correspondents’ of the economy is likely Trump’s action on trade. During his Dinner. Lynn Vineyard, a self-described “Democratic Trump campaign, Trump said he would “rip up” the nation’s trade supporter” said at the rally: “For the first time, I feel like we agreements because they were bad for America. One of these was the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that might get back to what America was founded on.” 18

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many in Macomb blame for their difficult economic times since the 1990s. In late September 2018, the Trump administration announced a “new NAFTA” deal, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). This could have important effects for Macomb County and Michigan. First, Trump can claim victory and count it as a campaign promise kept. In addition, several key components of the deal may appeal to Macomb County voters, especially the blue-collar Reagan Democrats. These include that if an automobile enters the U.S. duty-free from elsewhere in North America, at least 75% (up from 62.5%) of it has to originate in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Moreover, at least 40% of the production workers for each car or truck must be paid at least $16 per hour. This is music to the ears of Macomb voters who had responded to Trump’s populist message and his promise to “bring your jobs back” in 2016. We would not be surprised if Trump returned to Macomb just prior to the 2018 election cycle to take a victory lap on the new NAFTA and to mobilize supporters for the midterm election. One set of campaigns in 2018 where this might be felt is in Michigan’s U.S. House races and the U.S. Senate contest. Macomb County is split between two congressional districts; the southern third or so is in the 9th District and the remainder in the 10th. It is difficult to assess the impact of President Trump in these races because they are both safe seats. The 9th was held by former Representative Sander Levin for decades; his son, Andy, is poised to take over for his father with an easy win in November. The 10th is held by first-term congressman Paul Mitchell and there is no indication that he is in any danger of losing.

The Trump factor is, however, being felt in other races around the state. In particular, in neighboring Oakland County, two GOP-leaning districts are potential pickups for Democrats. Representative Mike Bishop is in the fight of his political life against Elissa Slotkin in the 8th District and Democrat Haley Stevens appears to be running ahead of GOP nominee Lena Epstein in the 11th District’s open seat contest to fill the seat of retiring GOP Representative Dave Trott. In both of these races Trump is playing a role. In a recent debate with Bishop, Slotkin noted Trump’s tone was not what the nation needed. In the 11th, Stevens has focused heavily on Epstein’s connections to Trump – Epstein served as co-chair of his Michigan campaign in 2016. Both the 8th and 11th Districts are two of the suburban districts that many observers have said will determine which party controls the House in 2019. Back in Macomb, President Trump has likely slipped only slightly in terms of his perception among Macomb County voters in the two years since his victory in 2016. Macomb voters are still with him on his “make America great again” agenda. While the tax cut could be more popular, the renegotiation of NAFTA is likely going to be a big seller with Reagan Democrats. Will this be enough to carry Macomb County in 2020? That remains to be seen, but Trump certainly has a strong base of support that likely is not going to leave him any time soon. RF David A. Dulio is Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at Oakland University, while John S. Klemanski is a Professor of Political Science at Oakland University.

sterling heights, mi RIPON FORUM November 2018


A View from

Kenosha County

“Kenosha County reflects both traditional Democratic Party roots and recent Republican strength.” by A R T H U R I . C Y R The Republican Party has been strong in Wisconsin Ryan has represented Wisconsin’s First Congressional under the leadership of Governor Scott Walker, but that District, which includes Kenosha, since 1999 but is not may be changing, in part due to intraparty tensions. running for reelection. The respected Almanac of American Politics 2018 Previously, Democrat Les Aspin held the First edition emphasizes vexed relationships in the 2016 District seat from 1971 to 1993. A respected defense election campaign between Republican presidential policy expert, he served briefly as Secretary of Defense nominee Donald Trump and state early in the administration of leaders, in particular Congressman President Bill Clinton. Democrat Paul Ryan, Speaker of the U.S. Peter Barca was Aspin’s immediate House of Representatives.1 successor in the House. This year the Democrats have The Republican Party nominee nominated Wisconsin School for the First District seat is Superintendent Tony Evers for Bryan Steil, a corporate lawyer. Governor. To this point, he has a Previously, he served on Ryan’s narrow lead in the polls. Governor staff, and the Speaker has endorsed Walker has won two elections for him. his current office, and survived Democratic Party nominee a recall initiative. He has earned Randy Bryce is a union member and a reputation as a ferocious industrial worker. The United Auto campaigner. He may win yet again, Workers remains a presence in the but there is no assumption of any region. Historically, Kenosha was a Republican advantage. major center of the auto industry, The massive new investment especially assembly plants. Arthur I. Cyr in Southeast Wisconsin by Despite Ryan’s lengthy success Foxconn Technology Group is in the 1st District, the strength of Wisconsin reflects both an economic opportunity and the Democrats is also notable. In source of controversy. Foxconn 2016, Donald Trump carried the the mixed political is the trade name of Hon Hai county by less than 1,000 votes. By party trends across the Precision Industry Company based contrast, Barack Obama in 2012 nation. in Taiwan, the world’s largest had a vote margin of nearly 10,000. producer of electronic contract Kenosha County Executive Jim products. Wisconsin’s financial Kreuser and Kenosha Mayor John underwriting of approximately $4 billion for Foxconn, Antaramian served as Democrats in the State Assembly. along with the disruptions accompanying associated Democratic State Senator Bob Wirch emphasizes his construction, has caused controversy. labor union background. He survived an aggressive The Democrats appear solidly ahead in the United 2010 Republican attack campaign to defeat him. States Senate race. Incumbent Senator Tammy Baldwin Kenosha County played a prominent role in the holds a steady lead of 10 percentage points over 2016 presidential primary campaign. Senator Bernie conservative Republican challenger State Senator Leah Sanders, Democratic contender for the nomination, Vukmir. spoke at Carthage College in Kenosha in March of Kenosha County reflects both traditional that year to an overflow crowd. Along with the college Democratic Party roots and recent Republican strength. community, the audience was comprised of a large 20

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number of working people. demanded an eight-hour workday. Milwaukee saw one Sanders won the Wisconsin primary, defeating Hillary of the largest efforts. In 1933, UAW workers sat down Clinton, who did not campaign in the state. The assumption on the job at Nash Motors in Kenosha. Republicans led that Wisconsin would be part of an upper Midwest “blue by Robert M. La Follette, who served as both Governor wall” that would deny Trump a presidential election and U.S. Senator, achieved a law requiring state primary victory proved illusory. He carried the state by just over elections, first held in 1906. 22,000 votes. Wisconsin reflects Local history was the mixed political party a factor in the visit of trends across the nation. Current polls indicate Democrats President Donald Trump to Current polls indicate will do well in the state as a Snap-on Tools in Kenosha in Democrats will do well in whole, and Republicans in the April 2017. During the visit, the state as a whole, and he announced an executive Republicans in the First First District. order to “buy American, hire District. However, polls American.” Snap-on is an were wrong in the 2016 American institution emphasizing quality workmanship, elections. RF though today the company is global in hiring, production and sales. Arthur I. Cyr is the A.W. and Mary Margaret Clausen Wisconsin historically was in the forefront of Distinguished Professor of Political Economy and labor union organizing and industrial reform, along World Business, and Director of the Clausen Center for with Progressive Republican politics and policies. In World Business, at Carthage College. 1865, a local chapter of the Molders Union originated in Milwaukee. In 1886, labor protest across the nation



Politics & Perspective

Leveling the Playing Field with China by SIMON LESTER and HUAN ZHU In recent months, the Trump administration has intensified regulations, and also improve its intellectual property its trade war with China. Some have suggested there is an protection, including efforts to address the cyber-espionage impending “economic cold war” between the United States that has been well-documented in the Office of the U.S. Trade and China, with an effort to “decouple” the world’s two biggest Representative’s Section 301 Report. The Trump Administration should encourage China’s economies. While this kind of talk can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, such an outcome is not a foregone conclusion at this efforts in these areas, but unilateral tariffs will not help. They point. With a change in approach, it is still possible to find a come across as “bullying” to China, to which China reacts badly.2 Just as importantly, tariffs will undermine economic peaceful solution. well-being in both economies. The administration is One good alternative for right to criticize China for the Trump administration is its relatively closed markets. to work with other nations China’s wealth has grown and file a wide range of WTO significantly in recent decades, complaints against China. yet some of its trade practices China’s compliance record remain rooted in its past as with decisions rendered a fairly poor country. At this in WTO disputes is better point, it is fair to ask China to than many people realize. take on trade commitments Intellectual property protection commensurate with its rising and subsidies are two income level. promising areas in this regard. The problem lies with the For other issues, clearer administration’s strategy. It has and more explicit obligations imposed tariffs on almost half are needed -- either within the of Chinese imports, which has Simon Lester Huan Zhu existing WTO framework or led China to impose retaliatory though bilateral/multilateral tariffs on nearly all U.S. China’s wealth has grown negotiations. The TPP was imports. There is no sign of one avenue to pursue this, but significantly in recent decades, either side backing down. If the bilateral or multilateral efforts administration’s goal is to open yet some of its trade practices could also work. up China’s market, its strategy remain rooted in its past as a In contrast to those is not working, and it is time to approaches, the Trump consider alternatives. fairly poor country. administration’s latest idea is China is already doing to look for ways to pressure some liberalizing on its own. For instance, China is slowly opening up more sectors certain allies into taking collective action against China’s for foreign investment and lowering its tariffs.1 Chinese practices. The most recent initiative of this kind is a provision officials have promised to continue with more of this type of in the new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that creates hurdles for Canada and Mexico if they want to negotiate liberalization. But China needs to extend its efforts beyond these a trade deal with China. Article 32.10 of this agreement narrow issues and make broader structural improvements to requires a Party to inform other Parties of the intention to its economy. China should reform its state-owned enterprises, negotiate a trade agreement with a non-market economy and rein in its subsidies, pare back its various restrictive domestic provide the full text of the agreement for review. If such an

1) t20180930_3033435.html



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agreement is negotiated, other Parties may terminate the If the Trump Administration really wants to convince USMCA and negotiate a new bilateral agreement to replace it. China to move in a more market-oriented direction, it needs The USMCA provision does not mention China by name, but to understand that unilateral tariffs and bullying will not work. it clearly targets China. China may be a difficult negotiator, but it has made concessions in While some may worry that this provision completely trade agreements before, and it would be willing to do so again.3 eliminates the possibility of an FTA with China, it could actually Overall, China has more respect for the international rule of law offer an opportunity. The than people realize, at least Trump Administration in the area of economic seems reluctant to relations. It is also looking China should reform its state-owned engage in a real to play a bigger role in the enterprises, rein in its subsidies, pare negotiation with China, global economy. Instead back its various restrictive domestic through which each side of fanning the flames of gives something and gets a trade war, let’s use this regulations, and also improve its something. But rather opportunity to move China intellectual property protection. than give in to the U.S. in a more market-oriented pressure here, Canada direction. RF may be better served by demonstrating to the Trump Administration how to negotiate Simon Lester is the Associate Director of the Herbert A. Stiefel with China in order to address some of the trade practices in Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Huan Zhu question. Australia and New Zealand have already concluded is a Research Associate at the Stiefel Center. trade deals with China. If Canada could do so as well, some people in the U.S. government might take notice. The conditions set out in Article 32.10 could make the negotiating process a 3) bumpy, but they do not prohibit a Canada-China deal. b9069bde0956

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RIPON FORUM November 2018


News & Events

McConnell Reflects on Senate Accomplishments Says Reshaping the Courts & Reviving the Economy Have Been Key

WASHINGTON, DC – In remarks on October 18 before a breakfast meeting of The Ripon Society, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the 115th Congress was one of the most successful he has ever served in, and pointed to reshaping the courts and reviving the economy as top accomplishments of the past two years. “The most important thing that the Majority Leader has to do to is set the agenda,” the veteran lawmaker stated in describing his job. “Once you set the agenda, you’re not sure sometimes how it’s going to come out. I think the single biggest decision I’ve made in my career is the decision not to do something -- and that was


to fill the Scalia vacancy in 2016 … If Schumer had my job, we wouldn’t be doing any of the things that we’re doing -- wouldn’t be confirming any of these judges. “I wanted to go to the judges first because I think it’s the single most important thing we’re doing. I love the tax bill. But I always like to remind everybody that the ‘86 tax act lasted four years … The only way to get permanency in tax law is to keep winning elections, because every time the majority shifts, each side goes back at the tax code with their own particular set of priorities. So regardless of which part of the tax bill was permanent or not permanent, I think the key to its survivability is

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future elections. That cannot be said of lifetime appointments to the courts.” McConnell was elected to the Senate in 1984. He has served as the leader of Senate Republicans since January 2007, when his colleagues elected him Minority Leader. He became Majority Leader after Republicans won back control of the chamber in 2014. In his remarks yesterday morning, he talked about the results of the last electionin 2016, and a conversation he had at the time with now-recently-departed White House Counsel Don McGahn about the historic opportunity that Republicans had at hand. “Don and I talked a week after the President was elected about how

we might take advantage of a situation President and McGahn deserve credit not. Because I may not be the one for which only comes along occasionally,” for nominating qualified candidates whom the judge has empathy. But they the Leader recounted. “You can go for the circuit court. He noted that find this very frightening, and I think back 100 years, and in only 20 of the many of these candidates are not only the reason they do is when you look last 100 years have Republicans had young, but are strict constructionists at the kind of people that President the Presidency, the House and the – meaning they will be serving on the Obama and President Clinton tended Senate at the same time. They’ve had bench without legislating from the to appoint, they were people who enormous periods of dominance -- the bench for a long time. were like super legislators. And ‘30s, the ‘60s, the first years of Barack “We’ve done 29 so far this every opportunity they had to get an Obama. We haven’t had more than 55 Congress,” McConnell said of the outcome they wanted, they did. This Republican senators in 100 years. Let judicial nominees. “That’s a record is the great divide between the two me say that again -- we’ve haven’t had for any administration in the first two parties -- over what these lifetime more than 55 Republican senators in years. We’ve done 84 judges overall. appointments ought to be like. And I 100 years. We’re going to do more of them before found it comforting and rewarding that “So when I woke up the day after the end of the year. And I’m amazed we can use these four years, if we hold the election, I said, ‘My goodness, the that they get so freaked out over the Senate, to put these kinds of men stars are aligned. Let’s don’t waste this having these kinds of people in the and women on the courts.” opportunity.’ The next thought was, court. What is a strict constructionist? McConnell then turned his ‘What’s the single most long lasting Justice Scalia, who had many attention to some of the other thing we could do for the accomplishments by country to make it as right Congress over the past two of center as possible?’ And years, and why he believes “This is the most successful obviously, that’s a judicial the 115thCongress is one of appointment. So Don the “most successful” he Congress – right of center – in the and I talked a week after has ever seen. 34 years I’ve been here.” the election. I gave him “This is the most some advice based on my successful Congress -experience that frequently right of center -- in the 34 the pre-nomination process was too memorable things to say, said you’re years I’ve been here,” the Kentucky convoluted. You’d have the White not a very good judge if you’re not Republican declared. “Everything House Counsel, you’d have the Justice occasionally uncomfortable with the from taxes to regulations to the rollback Department, and they’d have a hard result you reach, because it’s not your of Dodd-Frank and on and on and on. time ever deciding who to send up in personal opinion. You’re supposed The Senate is not broken. In the same the first place.” to apply the law or the Constitution week we were slugging it out over “Another problem that George and not just make it up on the fly. He Justice Kavanaugh, we did an opioid Bush 43 dispensed with was -- believe would also go on to say, ‘If you want bill -- overwhelmingly bipartisan. We it or not -- Republican and Democratic to make policy, why don’t you run did a five-year extension of the FAA Presidents, except for Bush 43, gave for office? That’s not our job.’ I had that hadn’t been done in 20 years. the American Bar Association a pre- Justice Gorsuch down to Kentucky last And a couple of weeks before that we nomination blackball. Let me say that year after his confirmation. This was funded 75 percent of the government again -- gave the ABA, for God’s sake, the way he put it -- he said, ‘We don’t before the end of the fiscal year, which a pre-nomination blackball. So if you wear red robes or blue robes. We wear hadn’t been done since ‘97. There’s nothing broken about the Senate. But couldn’t clear the ABA, you couldn’t black robes.’ even get nominated. Bush 43 said “So I don’t know why people are we have had some big arguments over you’re just another interest group. frightened about these kinds of judges. big things that we disagree on -- taxes, If you have an opinion, give it to the Put yourself in the place of a litigant. judges. This is America, for goodness Judiciary Committee. President Obama wanted to put people sake -- that’s what we do.” Making reference to the “So I said, ‘Don, don’t waste any on the bench who had ‘empathy.’ Now time with the ABA. My advice to you think about that a minute. What if Kavanaugh fight, the Majority Leader is keep this within the White House you’re the litigant for whom the judge also paid tribute to his colleagues for Counsel’s office because if you and does not have empathy? You’re not in not only standing up to a literal mob, the Justice Department are constantly such good shape. I’d like to think if but for standing up for a principle that going back and forth, it will slow the I’m a litigant that I got a fair shot of is too often forgotten in American life process and just take too much time.” being before somebody who’s going – the presumption of innocence. “Is the presumption of innocence According to McConnell, the to apply the laws as written rather than RIPON FORUM November 2018


still valid in America?” McConnell asked. “I thought the tactics of the mob that descended on the Capitol were demonstrably different from the demonstrations that are going on here all the time. We’re used to demonstration. Everybody demonstrates in America for whatever they want to. They were running us out of restaurants, meeting us at our homes, getting in our faces right in the Capitol building. They were trying to intimidate us -- to scare us into voting against this good man. “At the end of that week delay, there was no corroborating evidence, so you were going to operate on the presumption of innocence or not in the end. You had to have some corroborating evidence, and there was none. So the presumption of innocence was going to apply or it wasn’t. And I’m really proud of my members. They stood up to the mob

and they stood up for the presumption of innocence and we succeeded. But it was one hell of a fight.” Following his remarks, McConnell took a number of questions, including one about comments he was reported to have made about the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on the national debt and that Republicans were going to have to cut entitlement spending to bring down the debt as a result. “That’s not what I said,” he stated bluntly. “The drivers of the debt are popular entitlement programs -- Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. What I said was the only way that can that ever be addressed is on a bipartisan basis. The deficit -the annual deficit -- is up principally because we had to expand defense spending. But the revenues are also up, so the tax cut didn’t produce less

revenue. So far, it’s produced more revenue, but the deal that we cut with the Democrats in order to get $700 billion and then the $716 billion on defense required that we give them more than we wanted to do on the domestic side. “So we spent more, but we thought the needs of defense and foreign policy -- we’ve got two big state rivals in Russia and China, two rogue rivals in North Korea and Iran, and terrorism -- warranted a defense buildup. So that’s where we are at the moment. Now, if you look at it over the life of the deal that we made, I think it will not end up increasing the deficit because of the tax cut. I mean, this is a robust economy. More people are working. Unemployment is at a 50 year low. We’re proud of that. And I wouldn’t undo it for a minute.” RF


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RIPON FORUM November 2018

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WE’RE DEDICATED TO EMPOWERING PEOPLE AND COMMUNITIES EVERYWHERE. As a nonprofit, we empower people to choose how they live as they age and have been for 60 years. With drive and compassion, we advocate every day for health and financial security, and we strengthen communities across the nation.

Name: Joni Ernst Occupation: United States Senator, R-Iowa First job & lesson(s) learned from it: I was taught the value of hard work from an early age, as I plowed the fields of our farm and worked construction with my dad. My first paid job, off the family farm, was working the biscuit line at Hardees. In this job, I not only learned to get up early – but also the importance of customer service and treating people with dignity. Book(s) you’re recommending to friends: I recently read the Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. It is a book that spoke to me, as it addresses many of the tough issues that rural America faces. I would also recommend This Kind of War by T.R. Fehrenbach. It’s a book that is widely read among the military, as it provides a close look at infantry soldiers in Korea during the 1950s, and also talks about the broader tragedies of war. Looking back on your first four years in office, what are some of the top accomplishments you have been able to achieve during that time? Anytime that I can make a difference to improve the lives of Iowans is a win. I work hard every day to keep the promises that I have made to Iowans, and I am constantly working to find ways to cut waste, fraud and abuse in the government. For example, Sen. Heitkamp and I wrote a bill to help make the government less wasteful and more efficient. At the end of 2016, President Obama signed into law the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act, which reduces cost overruns and increases accountability to create a more productive government through better management procedures. This was my fourth bill to be signed into law during the 114th Congress. I am also proud of my bill to scrap the Waters of the United States rule that, under the Obama Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to expand their power over farmers, small businesses, ranchers and other landowners. The 2015 WOTUS rule would give the federal government authority to regulate water on 97 percent of the land in Iowa. We Iowans have an incentive to conserve our land. We don’t need Washington bureaucrats telling us what is best. While my legislation to put an end to the expanded definition of WOTUS passed the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support, it was vetoed by President Obama. With the new administration, my efforts to scrap WOTUS will continue until we have a favorable solution for our state. How about next year? What are some of the challenges still facing your State that you’re working hard to address? I am proud that Iowa was ranked the number one state by U.S. News and World Report in 2018 – a reflection of the hard work that has been done by our Iowa delegation, and the leadership of Governor Kim Reynolds. Iowa is first in infrastructure, high school graduation rates - and in the top five for health care, opportunity and four-year college graduation rates. We also have record unemployment and low taxes. But, we still have work to do. Iowa is a rural state, so access to broadband internet is very important. Rural Iowans need to have this access to expand their businesses and take advantage of the innovative technology that’s involved with agriculture. Finally, finish this sentence: “If I could reform one government agency, it would be…”: … the VA – we have to do better for our veterans. We have an incredible responsibility to not only make sure our country is protected, but to ensure that we live up to the promises made to our veterans. Upon being elected to the Senate, the first bill I introduced increased veterans’ access to mental health care services. One of my proudest moments was watching President Trump sign the VA MISSION Act into law earlier this year. The VA MISSION Act helps our country reach an important milestone in providing our veterans with the quality of care they earned and deserve. This bipartisan legislation improves veterans’ access to health care services, giving those who have selflessly defended our nation greater access to hospital care, life-saving medical services and extended care services – right in their own community.


RIPON FORUM November 2018

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