EATON — Ohio 8th District Representative Warren Davidson spoke with Eaton City Council members Monday, July 29, about partisan politics in Congress, the national debt, and America’s recent trade conflicts with China.
While he supported President Donald Trump’s efforts to improve on the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — which Trump and his allies have sought to replace with a new trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico — Davidson was critical of actions by the administration that have contributed to strained relations between the U.S. and China.
“I wish Navarro had gone a different way with that from the get-go,” Davidson said, referring to economist and U.S. Trade and Manufacturing Policy Director Peter Navarro. “The way we’re going about this is multiplying our enemies instead of multiplying our allies, and when you’re engaged in any kind of war, you want to multiply your allies.”
Davidson said Navarro is “the guy the president looks to” when it comes to trade policy, and that his own background makes him especially sensitive to issues involving trade.
“I worked in manufacturing,” Davidson said. “So I’ve lived with bad trade first hand.”
The key to improving trade relations with China, according to Davidson, lies in coming up with a compromise that allows the other country’s president to save face, while also addressing issues such as Chinese theft of American biotechnology and other intellectual property.
“In the U.S., there’s blame to go around if things don’t work out,” Davidson said. “Democrats can blame Republicans, Republicans can blame Democrats. But in China, the president has all the power, so who does he blame?”
“The question is, can we give China a way to save face, and still come up with a deal that matters?” Davidson continued.
On the issue of the national debt, Davidson said there was also blame to go around on both sides of the political aisle.
“We didn’t get this far in debt because one side was being good and the other wasn’t,” Davidson said. “It was bipartisan ‘Let’s Bankrupt America.’”
Davidson also said that while the wealthiest Americans stand to lose more money in an unstable economy, the real pain would be felt by those with fewer resources.
“If someone loses their job making $30,000 a year and finds a way to make $20,000, you could say, ‘Well, they only lost a third of their income,’” Davidson said. “When someone who makes $20 million a year and goes down to a million lost 95 percent. But they’re still going to get by just fine. The people who get hurt are going to be the people here at home.”
Davidson also addressed border defense, saying that “building the Wall” was only a partial solution to problems with illegal immigration.
“Even if you build a giant wall — if you don’t change the laws, then once somebody gets over that wall, or goes around that wall, or digs under that wall, you still have a broken legal framework that Congress needs to take action on,” Davidson said.
Finally, Davidson criticized partisan politics in the House of Representatives, saying that while the Senate managed to pass a defense budget bill with strong bipartisan support, the House has been less agreeable, with Republicans demanding Defense Department funds for border security and Democrats citing a lack of checks and balances, among other issues.
“Some things are going to continue to be partisan,” Davidson said. “I don’t think very many people’s minds are going to be changed.”