National Public Radio presidential debate

NORRIS: It's the holiday season and many Americans are heading to the stores, and many of the products that they're going to find on the shelves have a "Made in China" label. We've talked to Iowans about China, and there's one listener in particular, whose name is Don Frommelt(ph), he said that consumers and politicians both have a somewhat schizophrenic relationship when it comes to China. Let's listen to what he had to say.

MR. DON FROMMELT: (From tape.) You can't have it both ways. And I think we need candidates who are willing to bite the bullet. And if you're going to say our balance of trade is upside down with China, there's one way to fix it; put on some kind of a tariff and prevent the American people from buying $300 TVs instead of $600 TVs.

NORRIS: Senator Biden, how would — would you actually restrict trade with China? And given the WTO guidelines, could you actually do that?

SEN. BIDEN: With the WTO guidelines, we could stop these products coming in now. This president doesn't act. We have much more leverage on China than they have on us.

Let's get something straight here. We're making them into 10 feet tall. It took them 30 years to get 20% of their population out of poverty. They've got 800 million people in poverty. They're in real distress.

The idea that a country with 800 million people in poverty has greater leverage over us is preposterous. What it is: We've yielded to corporate America. We've yielded to this president's notion of what constitutes trade, and we've refused to enforce the laws that exist.

As president, I would end — flat, bang, no importation of those toys. Why? Under WTO, you're allowed to do it until you send inspectors to guarantee. Why aren't they doing it? Corporate America doesn't want —

NORRIS: Now, this listener called for tariffs. Are you willing to go there?

SEN. BIDEN: I'm not. No, I'm not willing to go there. You don't need to start a tariff war. All you have to do is enforce the law. Enforce the law.

NORRIS: Thank you.

Senator Dodd.

SEN. DODD: Well, I want to go back to the characterization of the relationship. Obviously it's a strategic one, but this is not a competition. If we're a competition, competition implies that people are playing by the same rules. We're not playing by the same rules here.

This is an adversarial relationship today. That needs to change. But when you manipulate your currency as they do, in violation of the World Trade Organization here, to the tune of 40%, you've immediately created a huge disadvantage for our country. When you employ slave labor in the production of your manufactured goods, when you deny access on your shelves to the products and services we produce, it is not a competition. It's adversarial.

Now, I'm not interested in being bellicose about this. But you need to understand exactly what the relationship is today, before we decide what steps you take. We ought to be far, not raising our voice in a loud necessarily way. But we ought to be able to talk about that we need to stand up and say, this is a market you want to be in.

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