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Ohio Candidates Keep Focus on Trade Issues

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Message Dustin Ensinger
Ohio Democrats continued to pile on top of two Republicans in November's midterm elections, reminding voters that both Republicans unequivocally support the very same free-trade policies that transformed Ohio's economy from the envy of the nation to another Rust Belt state full of boarded up factories and unemployed blue-collar workers.

At Northwest Ohio Building Trades Council office on August 10, Chris Redfern, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman, along with dozens of labor leaders and Democratic lawmakers blasted Republican Gubernatorial candidate John Kasich and U.S. Senate candidate Rob Portman for supporting the very same policies that have left Ohio's once-proud economy a shell of its former self.

"After supporting the economic and trade policies that got us into this national recession these guys want to be put back in charge," Redfern said, according to The Toledo Blade. "We just can't allow that to happen."

Overall, Ohio has lost nearly 300,000 manufacturing jobs since 1997, or 29-percent of the jobs in what is typically one of the higher paying sectors of the economy. In 1997, manufacturing made up 23-percent of Ohio's total economic output. By 2008 that was down to just 14-percent, as jobs have been outsourced to low-wage countries like Mexico, China and India.

Overall, the loss of good paying manufacturing jobs has caused Ohio's real median income to fall by 10-percent from 2000 to 2008, or $2,300 below the national median.

Portman was at the forefront of Ohio's gradual economic downfall. As a member of the U.S. House, Portman regularly supported free trade agreements that put American workers in direct competition with those from the Third World. Later, as the U.S. Trade Representative under President Bush, Portman became the architect and main advocate of America's failed trade policies.

As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Portman supported free trade pacts with Central America, Australia, Singapore and Chile. He voted against withdrawing from the World Trade Organization and in favor of providing the president with even greater power to negotiate free trade agreements. He steadfastly opposed extending aid to those displaced because of free trade policies.

The Ohio Conference on Fair Trade said that during the Portman-era as U.S. Trade Representative, 17,000 Ohio jobs were outsourced, while the trade deficit rose 6.5 percent. Portman also allowed the U.S. trade deficit with China to swell to over $200 billion for the first time in history.

Kasich, who also served in the lower chamber of Congress before moving on to make millions working for Wall Street, has a long and undistinguished record on trade. He voted to grant China permanent most favored nation status, paving the way for its ascension into the World Trade Organization and drastically increasing trade with the U.S. He also supported a free trade agreement with Africa, the Caribbean Trade Partnership Act and the agreements reached at the Uruguay round of global trade negotiations.

"Kasich supports the unfair-trade deals that have shipped Ohio manufacturing jobs overseas and benefited Wall Street at the expense of Ohio workers," Allison Kolodziej, a Strickland campaign spokeswoman, said, according to The Youngstown Vindicator.

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Dustin Ensinger is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and political science.
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