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Romney and Obama fight back and forth about who would be tougher on China, but both are flawed.

President Obama and Governor Romney continue to take to the airwaves with competing ads that claim each is tougher than the other in confronting China's predatory trade practices.

In battleground states like Ohio, Obama has run television spots that tout the tariffs he imposed three years ago on surging tire imports from China.

GOP challenger Romney has also been trekking through Ohio.  On Friday, he blasted the Obama Administration for delaying a Treasury report (due today) that could have been used to formally designate China as a currency manipulator.

Romney has repeatedly promised to hold China accountable for its cheating by designating Beijing as a currency manipulator on day one of his presidency.  In contrast, the Obama Administration has so far refused to take such a step despite seven consecutive opportunities in semi-annual Treasury reports on currency.

Unfortunately for America's manufacturers and their workers, there's plenty of hypocrisy to go around.  While President Obama campaigned in 2008 on a strong pledge to tackle China's currency peg, he has indeed failed to act on it, as Romney accuses.

However, Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) doesn't have a very good track record either.  He had tough words at a campaign stop in Ohio this past weekend, lamenting the manufacturing jobs that America has lost to China.  Sadly, Ryan was among a small minority of Congress that did not support a China currency measure in 2010.  That bill, which passed by a strong, bipartisan vote of 348-79, was intended to specifically address China's ongoing currency undervaluation.

While Gov. Romney has vowed to tackle China's currency peg, his real commitment on the issue remains in question.  Currently, a majority of the House has co-sponsored a new bill, H.R.639, "The Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act," including 64 House Republican cosponsors.  Frustratingly, House Speaker John Boehner has refused to let H.R.639 to come to the floor for a vote, though.

Boehner's obstruction on the bill is extremely disappointing.  But it becomes all the more unfortunate because Romney has made no public comment on the matter.  As the current standard-bearer for the Republican Party, Romney could easily and publicly confront Boehner on the matter, and ask that the bill move forward.  But he has made no such effort.

And so the "China issue" muddles along.

 

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