WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton gave a shout-out to Shinola on Friday as she unveiled a jobs and wage plan that called for stepped-up trade enforcement, using more tools such as tariffs to fight China on currency manipulation and implementing measures to penalize American corporations that move jobs and profits abroad.
Speaking in Detroit, Clinton repeatedly praised the growth and rebound of several industries, including auto parts and auto manufacturing in and around the distressed city and held it up as a model of creating the jobs of the future. She pointed to Shinola, which located the bulk of its manufacturing in Detroit, saying it has created more than 500 jobs and “cornered the market on watches for presidents. Both my husband and President Obama love their Shinolas.”
Clinton dubbed her plan a New Bargain in a major speech on employment and the economy.
“Throughout this campaign, I’ve said that creating good-paying jobs and raising incomes is the defining economic challenge of our time — that in order to get where I want us to go we need growth — strong, fair and long-term,” Clinton said. “That’s why we need a new bargain for the new economy — a new bargain to ensure that the jobs of the future are good-paying American jobs — the kind that provide both good incomes and the dignity, pride and sense of purpose that comes when you have something to look forward to when you get up in morning.”
Among the centerpieces of her proposed plan is one that would force companies that lay off workers and move abroad to pay back to the U.S. government any of the tax breaks they received, which is aimed at keeping jobs in the U.S. and encouraging more investment.
Clinton pointed to Nabisco, which she said laid off 600 workers in Chicago and moved its production line to Mexico, after receiving tax breaks for years from Illinois.
“If a company like Nabisco outsources and ships jobs overseas, we’ll make you give back the tax breaks you received here in America. If you aren’t going to invest in us, why should taxpayers invest in you?” she asked rhetorically. “Let’s take that money and put it to work in the communities that are being left behind.”
She called for making companies pay for tax inversions with a new “exit tax.”
“I’m not interested in condemning whole categories of businesses or the entire private sector, but I do want to send a clear message to every boardroom and executive suite: If you cheat your employees, you exploit your customers, you pollute our environment or rip off the taxpayers, we will hold you accountable,” Clinton declared.
Another pillar of her plan centered around cracking down on unfair trade and countries that intentionally undervalue their currencies, notably China, to gain an unfair trade advantage.
While noting that there has been some good news on the trade front — exports have risen 40 percent under President Obama — she said the benefits of trade “have not been widely enjoyed.”
“Enforcing trade laws means dealing with one country above all — China. When it comes to trade, China is by far the worst rule-breaker in the world,” Clinton said. “It dumps cheap products in our markets, subsidizes state-owned enterprises who undersell in the global market to hurt our companies and it discriminates against American companies.”
Clinton also warned that China’s economic slowdown could lead to more “bad acts,” including dumping more products to make up for lost demand.
“We have to stop that right now,” she said. “We have to prevent not just China, but other countries from manipulating their currencies to gain an unfair price advantage.”
Clinton said she will do that if elected president by expanding the tools the U.S. uses to go after countries that manipulate their currency, including using new remedies like retaliatory tariffs. She also reiterated her opposition to the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that she supported when she was Secretary of State under Obama.
“When it comes to trade deals, here’s my standard: I won’t support any agreement unless it helps create good jobs and higher wages for American workers and protects our national security,” Clinton said. “I need to be able to look into the eyes of any hard-working American worker anywhere in our country and say this deal will help raise your income. That’s why I voted against the last big multilateral trade deal called CAFTA [Central American Free Trade Agreement]. It’s why I don’t support the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.”