Guy Page: Rep. Welch, Democratic Party business donors decry Trump tariffs

By Guy Page

On June 14, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., tweeted, “Today I met at @VTChamber with businesses of all sizes to learn about the damage #TrumpTradeWar is inflicting on Vermonters & our economy. I am fighting to pass legislation to protect these businesses & their employees from Trump’s erratic & irresponsible trade policies.”

As further reported by VT Digger,  Welch listened to members of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce in Barre prophesy economic woe due to the tariffs aimed at ending decades of unequal trading practices by (mostly) our largest trading partner, China.

Front-and-center among the complainers was Burton Snowboards, which predicted it could lose $5 million in profits next year due to the tariffs.

Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, and Physicians, Families & Friends for a Better Vermont.

Burton Snowboards, of course, is not some politically disinterested maker of outdoor gear. It is a longtime donor to Democratic and progressive politics. In 2018, Burton Snowboards (company, owners, employees combined) gave $42,630 to Democratic congressional candidates and $0 to Republican counterparts, according to the campaign finance website OpenSecrets.org. The company also is listed by OpenSecrets as #12 on the all-time donor list for Rep. Peter Welch, with $47,200 for business donations and another $47,200 in individual donations.  According to a May, 2019 Politico news story, company founder Jake Burton donated $5000 to the 2016 presidential campaign of Pres. Bernie Sanders.

It’s true that Burton, Vermont and the rest of the U.S. may suffer during a tariff war. But China has been dealing unfairly with the United States for almost 30 years. The U.S. lost a quarter of its manufacturing jobs to China between 1990 and 2007, according to Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post. Every president in the last 30 years has sought fairer treatment. No dice. China refuses to equalize trade relations. As the Wall Street Journal recently noted, “the president’s tough line now—heading into the final stretch of negotiations—will reduce friction later. China is less likely to cheat on any future agreement if it needs to comply to earn a reduction.”

Vermont critics of Trump’s economic policies seem willfully ignorant that Vermont individuals, families, companies, pensioners, and state revenue have benefited from the national economic boom spurred at least in part by Trump’s tax cuts and deregulation. Vermont unemployment is at an all-time low. The Trump tax cuts restored millions of dollars to Vermont ratepayers and employees. Headliners reported on that terrific windfall to Vermont energy users and workers in September, 2018. In October 2018, we reported the $15.5 million windfall in Vermont corporate tax revenue during the first three quarters of 2018, thanks to Trump’s forced repatriation of corporate tax revenue from off-shore businesses. When we published those two stories, we thought the Vermont political/business/media establishment might sit up and take notice.

Alas, no. That’s not what happened.

Instead, this “good news” story for Vermonters was toxic to political/media Montpelier. In the halls of the State House, it simply wasn’t discussed out loud – I know, because I tried. It’s not that lawmakers and media didn’t intellectually grasp that the tax cuts had just enriched virtually every Vermonter through cuts in power bills, and had also benefited thousands of workers. But they (including many Republicans) were unwilling to give public attaboys to Donald Trump – for any reason. To paraphrase something Fox News commentator Brit Hume recently said, “if Donald Trump suddenly announced a cure for all illness and death, he would be criticized for harming the health care industry and increasing the population crisis.”

Will tariffs hurt Vermont in the short run and/or the long run? Time will tell. But what Vermonters can confidently predict is that many of our elected officials and the businesses that financially support them will not say so if the Trump tariffs work, after all.

Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Image courtesy of U.S. House of Representatives
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8 thoughts on “Guy Page: Rep. Welch, Democratic Party business donors decry Trump tariffs

  1. The Democrats have negotiated flawed trade agreements for decades.

    They give our so-called “trading partners” near-zero tariff access and an edge to foreigners in US markets.

    They collectively keep US products out of THEIR markets by means of rules and regulations, which weakens the US business class, i.e., Republican Party in the US, such as the US car market being taken over by Germany, Japan and Korea, with Mexico’s help, as part of taking advantage of NAFTA.

    This is all about Democrats gaining and keeping absolute power and control. Open borders with Mexico is part of their strategy, because it increases government, a Democrat goal, and it brings in Democrat votes.

    Democrats do not give a damn about the American factory worker, because his vote will be more than double replaced by illegal alien/undocumented worker/legalized “Dreamer” votes.

    Three multilateral agreements contributed to US trade deficits and the US debtor nation status:

    1) The Trade Expansion Act (“Kennedy Round”), signed by Kennedy in 1962, significantly reduced US import tariffs, opened US markets to a flood of European imports. No wonder Kennedy was much loved in Europe. Subsequent GATT and WTO agreements cemented in place the Kennedy Round standards and extended similar opportunities for East Asia to access the US and European markets. Europe formed a trading bloc, the EU, complete with tariff wall, to protect its markets and jobs.

    2) NAFTA, signed by Clinton in 1993, allowed the EU and East Asia to have bilateral trade agreements with Mexico and Canada, which, over time, became advantageous to them and disadvantageous to the US. Regarding US manufacturing jobs, Ross Perot called NAFTA “the giant sucking sound”. NAFTA, to its disadvantage, does not act as a trading bloc, unlike the EU.

    In case of the car industry, NAFTA enabled EU and East Asian global companies to:

    1) Build plants for manufacturing car parts,
    2) Import parts near-duty-free into Canada and Mexico (per bilateral agreements), and
    3) Assemble entire cars in Mexico and Canada for import, duty free, into the US.

    By design, the US-made parts content of these cars, designed abroad, would be kept minimal to maximize jobs in Europe, East Asia, Mexico and Canada, to the disadvantage of US workers. Any exported US-made car parts, or entire cars, would face European and East Asian tariff and regulation walls. Try importing a Harley Davidson into Italy, or a US car into Korea and Japan.

    The adversities of NAFTA further increased the US trade deficits in goods from $132.4 billion in 1993 to $752.5 billion in 2016, and reduced well-paying, steady, US manufacturing jobs to lower levels than they could have been.

    3) China into the WTO, signed by Clinton in 2001, enabled China to have the advantageous status of “developing nation”, i.e., allowed China to restrict its imports, while building up its exports and foreign currency reserves. This further increased the US trade deficits in goods from $422.4 billion in 2001 to $752.5 billion in 2016, and reduced well-paying, steady, US manufacturing jobs to lower levels than they could have been.

    The US response effectively amounted to near nothing, as it became bogged down in the quagmires of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., adventures that wasted several trillion dollars, instead of being invested in infrastructures to improve economic and living conditions.

    History shows, the cumulative result of trade pacts, bilateral and multilateral, led to decades of increasing US trade deficits ever since 1971, the demise of US trade unions, and rustbelt conditions in many urban areas of the US.

    Trump’s call to renegotiate trade agreements likely will be slow-walked by “trading partners” until he is out of office, as it would upset their present advantageous situation, relative to the US, which is producing lucrative gains.

    • The real issues are about international trade, reducing the US trade deficit, reducing the US debtor nation status, bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US, and paying for world peacekeeping. The US would be less competitive in world markets if:

      – The US invested more in renewable energy systems, such as expensive offshore wind. It would increase its cost structure.
      – The US continues to overinvest in defense to maintain world peace. Others continue to underinvest.

      BTW, that debtor nation status is now about $10 TRILLION, on which foreigners earn about 5%/y, in addition to their annual profits of about $80 BILLION on their annual $800 billion trade surpluses with the US. No wonder foreigners want “rules-based”, screw the US world trade.

      For decades, the EU, Japan, Korea, etc., have invested to build up the skills of their technical personnel to develop, design and operate complex facilities to manufacture products and systems for their own markets and for export.

      That is the front end of the A to Z value chain, which is the most profitable part. It pays good profits to owners, good wages and benefits to workers and taxes to home governments. It is the real wealth builder of an economy. Those countries develop, design, build and own the ships to transport products and systems all over the world. Those countries own parts-making and assembly plants all over the world.

      The assembly of parts and sub-assemblies into end products, such as cars, is the less valuable part of the value chain. Usually it pays good profits to owners, but pays mediocre wages and benefits to workers. Clever transfer pricing avoids paying taxes to local governments.

      1) The give-away Pacific Trade Agreement, unfair to the US, was negotiated by Obama, as part of the ongoing Democrat strategy to weaken the GOP.

      2) Being part of Paris COP21, that would have required, as a minimum, for the US to pay THE UN about $20 billion PER YEAR for the UN $100 billion slush fund to save the world (India and China would pay nothing!), was negotiated by Obama, as part of the ongoing Democrat strategy to weaken the GOP. Oh, but we are saving the world was Obama’s red herring.

      Trump may be various things, but he is definitely no fool, and neither is Welch, who is just being a good Democrat soldier.

      Those two items would have been disadvantageous to the US, and US businesses, the GOP, and advantageous to Democrats and foreigners, especially the EU. No wonder foreigners and Democrats were crying so much. Stay tuned.

  2. “Political Hack from backwoods VT seeks dirt on Successful President from Supporters of
    Communist China Workforce.” or “Leftist Hack want’s to Earn his Corrupt Business Bribes by Attacking
    Successful President” good titles for welch’s sudden visit to the homeland.
    Pres Trump is the first President to go fully thru our trade agreements that have
    benefited everyone but the USA since they were begun. For the Hate Trump flatlander 3rd stooge to stick
    up for China’s benefit is very telling. Just like the national Demontards their all for everyone BUT
    America. Burton can move to China for all I care.

  3. Welch is just another Pelosi puppet. The Obama policies that President Trump put an end too was the start of making our economy prosper. President Trumps policies lowered the unemployment numbers, shot stock prices up to record levels, and put more money in taxpayers pockets. Welch is just another blind democrat that is just anti-Trump. The Trump tariff threatened on Mexico forced Mexican troops to their southern border to help put a stop to the illegal immigrants headed toward our southern border but Welch would never admit to the Trump successes just like the rest of his deep state phonies. I wouldn’t vote in as the street sweeper if that were an elected office. He’s as incompetent a legislator as he was an attorney but 60% of Vermont voters have fallen for his erratic & irresponsible rhetoric.

  4. Boo hoo for Burton – here’s a quote from 14 December 2018:

    ‘The excitement of the opportunity at hand grows each day. Smith was in Beijing a couple of weeks ago with Burton founder Jake Burton Carpenter, and among other tasks, the two met with local government officials—meetings that reaffirmed for Burton’s leadership team that the commitment to China was, and will continue be, a sound business decision.’

    SGB Media ‘Case Study: Burton’s Patience In China Paying Off’

    Burton moved production out of Vermont and now they’re complaining about potentially losing revenue – what a shame. Perhaps they should consider moving back and paying taxes here. They made a decision to move and now it turns out it wasn’t the best decision – now they’re looking for someone to blame – I suggest looking in a mirror.

  5. Welch thinks $800 billion dollar per year US trade deficits is good.

    Does he not understand our trading partners will fight to the death to keep their trade surpluses?

    They use part of them to buy US companies and companies all over the world and use transfer pricing to keep profits low in the US, paying minimal taxes, and high in Germany, Japan, Korea, etc., to pay taxes in their home countries, where all the high paying R&D jobs, and road testing jobs, and vehicle and factory design jobs are.

    Thé US workers just get the low paying final assembly jobs, if they are lucky.

  6. Idiots, all. They would ‘decry’ ANYTHING President Trump does. If Trump discovered a cure for cancer they would decry that! Let’s face it. Democrats don’t care about this country. They don’t care about YOU. All they care about is bringing this president down. Why? Because he is a stark contrast to them. He functions; they don’t. And they continue to show the world just what fools they are.

  7. Burton Snowboards, yes they may lose money with all of it ” Made In China ” goods that
    they push for the top dollar they charge because of the name ” Burton ” what a disgrace
    to Vermont’s namesake !!

    Capitalism at it’s best, sometimes you win ” Profit ” and some time you lose !!! How many
    tax breaks has burton taken over the years ??

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