If we want to bring jobs and wealth back to the United States for the 99% of us who have been under extreme pressure we’re going to have to do something about trade. The huge trade imbalances — especially with China — are sucking our jobs and factories and companies and industries and money out of the country. The biggest thing that can be done right now is to take action on China’s currency manipulation. Here are two things you can do today.

The Senate votes today on a bill to push back against China’s (and a few other countries’) currency manipulation, and the bill is expected to pass. The bill also has to pass the House and be signed by the President before it can take effect. CNN explains, in Senate targets China’s currency,

For years, U.S. officials have been pressuring China to allow its renminbi — or yuan — to appreciate more rapidly. Between 2008 and 2010, China had pegged the yuan to the dollar, keeping its value artificially low and Chinese exports comparatively cheap.

Besides hiking tariffs on Chinese goods, the bill also takes aim at the administration, which already has some ability to point out nations that purposefully manipulate their currency but has avoided doing so.

The bill would:
– Force the administration to officially red-flag nations whose currencies are undervalued for long periods with the term “fundamentally misaligned currency.”
– Make it tougher for the Commerce Department to ignore calls to investigate accusations of undervalued currencies.
– Force the administration to give Congress a list of nations with “misaligned” currencies.
And if a nation is accused of having an undervalued currency and makes no effort to rebalance the currency for three months or more, that’s when the tariffs kick in.

Jobs And Wealth

It’s complicated, but by manipulating its currency instead of letting it “float” to world market value, China can sell goods to other countries at a much lower price than they would cost without the manipulation. In effect China puts its own money into the currency markets, which works out the same as subsidizing the products directly so they have a lower price, in order to get the orders. While this might seem like a dumb thing to do the long-term result is that China is buying themselves a very big chunk of the world’s manufacturing business. In the long term this pays off for them in jobs, industries, wealth and power.

And as we now know, the result for us is a big loss of jobs and wealth and factories and companies and industries — in other words, our ability to make a living in the world.

The House

Even as the bill likely passes the Senate today, Speaker of the House Boehner is siding with China and is refusing to allow it to come before the House for a vote. (Reminder to self: do some research into the Citizens United Supreme Court decision enabling foreign money to influence our elections.)

The bill can be forced onto the House floor using a “discharge petition.” You can take action to help get Republicans to sign the discharge petition so it comes to the floor. Click here to contact members of Congress and ask them to sign this discharge petition and end Chinese currency manipulation now.

Tell Congress to stop China’s cheating on currency manipulation, which stands in the way of free and fair trade, job creation, and a higher standard of living for millions of Americans.

Click here to see the actual discharge petition.

The President

In his news conference last week President Obama said that China is manipulating their currency but that he doesn’t want a law that is just “symbolic.” He was not clear about whether he would sign this bill or not, should it pass. He said,

“…China has been very aggressive in gaming the trading system to its advantage and to the disadvantage of other countries, particularly the United States. And I have said that publicly, but I’ve also said it privately to Chinese leaders. And currency manipulation is one example of it. [. . .] My main concern — and I’ve expressed this to Senator Schumer — is whatever tools we put in place, let’s make sure that these are tools that can actually work, that they’re consistent with our international treaties and obligations. I don’t want a situation where we’re just passing laws that are symbolic knowing that they’re probably not going to be upheld by the World Trade Organization, for example, and then suddenly U.S. companies are subject to a whole bunch of sanctions. We’ve got a — I think we’ve got a strong case to make, but we’ve just got to make sure that we do it in a way that’s going to be effective.”

So it is not clear if he intends to sign this legislation. You can sign a petition encouraging him to sign it, should it pass, and take other steps to push China to stop their trade violations. Click the following: WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO: Take Action to Stop China’s Job-Killing Currency Manipulation.

Please take the time to urge members of Congress to sign the discharge petition, and to urge President Obama to sign the bill if&when it passes.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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About the Author

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson (Redwood City, CA) is a Fellow at Campaign for America's Future, writing about American manufacturing, trade and economic/industrial policy. He is also a Senior Fellow with Renew California. Dave has more than 20 years of technology industry experience including positions as CEO and VP of marketing. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. And he was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.

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