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Miles campaign goes after Amash on Michigan jobs issue

October 5, 2010

For the past 2 weeks now local TV stations have been running an ad paid for by the Pat Miles campaign that presents Republican candidate for Congress Justin Amash as sending jobs abroad.

Here is the commercial the Miles camp has been buying airtime for:

In some ways the Miles campaign has done it’s homework. It is true that Amash co-owns a factory in China that sells tools in the US, based on his personal financial disclosure.

The political ad also accuses Amash of voting against a bill in the Michigan legislature that “would hire Michigan workers first.” Amash did vote against SB 293 last year, but the language of the bill is a bit different than what the Miles campaign wants you to believe. A summary of the bill states:

“Under the bill, beginning July 1, 2009, when designating a renaissance zone, if all other considerations were equal, the State Administrative Board or the MSF would have to give preference to an applicant for renaissance zone status if the applicant agreed in writing to hire only Michigan residents or individuals who planned on becoming Michigan residents, or contract with businesses that agreed to hire only those people, to construct, renovate, rehabilitate, or improve a facility in the renaissance zone under the conditions described in Senate Bill 290 (S-1).”

While it certainly says that these businesses would have to “hire only Michigan residents or individuals who planned on becoming Michigan residents,” it also says that the “State Administrative Board would have to give preference” to an applicant who agreed to hire Michigan residents. Giving preference is not the same as requiring businesses to hire Michigan residents, so the claim from the Miles camp is a bit of a stretch here.

Clearly Amash is no defender of working people and keeping jobs in Michigan, but the Miles ad does not address much larger issues that have impacted jobs in Michigan.

First, to the issue of China and job loss, the US voted to include China in the WTO in 1999, under the Clinton administration. This designation really opened up the prospects of more US factories moving to China or the outsourcing of jobs.

Second, the other main factor in job loss to Michigan has been trade policies such as NAFTA and CAFTA. According to the data provided on the Public Citizen new Trade Data Center, Michigan lost 342,325 manufacturing jobs from 1993 – 2009 because of trade policies.

Unless trade policies are addressed supporting tax incentives for businesses to hire Michigan residents is not going to effectively counteract the impact that policies like NAFTA have had on Michigan.

In looking at Pat Miles campaign website he does, “Insist on fair and reciprocal trade agreements since West Michigan workers and products can compete with any in the world when there is a level playing field.” Unfortunately, this vague sentiment does not make any commitments to repealing trade policies such as NAFTA, which would take a strong stand in favor of Michigan workers.

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