YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, seeing an opening in a manufacturing-heavy swing state, attacked the Obama administration today for delaying a report on Chinese currency manipulation until after the election.
"The administration had their eighth chance to label china a currency manipulator," Ryan told an audience of several hundred at his town hall meeting at Youngstown State University, ascribing political motivation to the decision. "It's due in two days. They say they are going to push this deadline off until after the election."
On Friday the Treasury Department announced that it will delay publishing the semi-annual Report to Congress on International Economic and Exchange Rate Policies to include the results of next month's G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers. The report, which can label trading partners as "currency manipulators," has been a focal point for Republican criticism of the Obama administration, as Mitt Romney and his running mate have pledged a tougher stance on Chinese intellectual property theft and unfair monetary policy.
"That's eight opportunities they had to say: You know what? Play fair with us — trade with us fairly," Ryan said. "We've lost hundreds of thousands of jobs according to one study because of just this problem. 2 million jobs we've lost, according to the International trade Commission, because of one country — China — taking our intellectual property rights."
"That's not correct, that's not right," Ryan added. "That's cheating."
The Treasury report has been frequently delayed to accomodate international meetings. The last one was held until May 25, 2012, and found significant intervention on the part of Chinese authorities to control their currency.
The issue is of particular importance in manufacturing areas, who are hard hit by Chinese imports made cheaper by Chinese efforts to keep the value of their currency low. And if the report were to label china as a manipulator, U.S. officials would be able to place duties on Chinese imports.
“Congressman Ryan’s tough rhetoric can’t hide the fact that Mitt Romney will never crack down on China’s cheating – just look at his record," said Obama spokesman Danny Kanner, who added that Romney's tax plan would create jobs overseas.
Ryan himself has wavered on the issue. In 2010, he voted against the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act which allows the federal government to impose penalties on manipulators.
"The administration doesn't need more tools, it needs leadership," said Ryan spokesman Michael Steel.