IndustryWeek submitted questions to candidates from three key political races to better understand how the upcoming election could shape the future of U.S. manufacturing. You can also read responses from Michigan gubernatorial candidates incumbent Democrat Jennifer Granholm and her GOP opponent Dick DeVos and Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).
Editors Note: DeWine opponent Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) did not respond to IW's interview request.
IW: What do you think are the most important public policy issues that must be addressed to ensure a strong economic future for manufacturing in the U.S. ? Why are these the most important?
DeWine: We must make sure that we promote free and fair trade. Trade is important to Ohio and tens of thousands of Ohio jobs absolutely depend on trade. I've worked hard to make sure that foreign countries don't get unfair trade advantages over the U.S. and Ohio companies. I successfully worked with Republicans and Democrats to convince the president to levy tariffs against the illegal dumping of steel that was hurting our steel industry. I also wrote the law that directed over $315 million in fines from illegal foreign dumping and gave that money to those who had suffered from the dumping -- Ohio companies and their employees. I routinely urge the president and various federal agencies to take steps necessary to defend Ohio companies facing unfair trade practices by foreign countries. I am also working to end China's illegal currency manipulation and cosponsored a bill that would impose a 27% tariff on Chinese goods until they change their illegal practices.
We must also work to lower energy costs and reduce our dependence on oil that comes from volatile regions of the world. That's why I voted for the Energy Bill last year, which is a step in the right direction. It promotes the use of renewable fuels like ethanol, which is good for Ohio farmers and helps lessen our dependence on foreign oil. The bill also provided tax incentives to build more ethanol plants like those being built and planned in Ohio and it gave tax credits to encourage companies and individuals to become more fuel efficient. But we have to do more. I support increased investment into the energy technologies of the future, like fuel cells, clean coal technologies and other cutting-edge programs that can be developed in Ohio and create jobs in Ohio. These new technologies will be developed, the question is only whether we are going to develop them in the U.S. and Ohio and sell them to other countries or we are going to end up buying them from our competitors?
IW: Where do you stand on pending trade bills, including Schumer-Graham, Hunter-Ryan, Grassley-Baucus? How do you think these bills would affect U.S. manufacturing?
DeWine: Chinese currency manipulation is a subsidy of Chinese imports putting American goods at a disadvantage. This hurts Ohio manufacturers who produce similar goods. China must change their policy. That is why I decided to cosponsor the Schumer-Graham legislation mentioned above. It was the first piece of legislation introduced in the Senate to specifically address Chinese currency manipulation. Ohioans deserve to compete on a level playing field and until the Chinese stop subsidizing their goods, U.S. goods will be at a disadvantage.
Senator Mike DeWine (R-Ohio)
IW: What do you think needs to be done to ease energy costs for U.S. manufacturers? Are you in favor of expanding offshore drilling for gas and oil in coastal waters and in Alaska ?
DeWine: We must increase funding for research and development of sources of energy that will get us away from our dependence on volatile countries like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. We need to support more renewable fuels like ethanol that is good for Ohio farmers, good for the environment and will help lower dependence on foreign oil and lower energy costs for Ohio consumers and industries. That's why I voted for Energy bill that requires the U.S. to produce more ethanol and gave tax incentives to build ethanol plants like those being built and planned in Ohio. I voted for the bill to expand drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico, which can increase our supply almost immediately.
IW: What is your stance on guest-worker visas?
DeWine: I believe that our nation should provide a limited number of guest-worker visas so that foreign workers can enter our country legally to perform low-skilled work that Americans will not do. An employer should not be permitted to hire a foreign guest worker until it first advertises the job for American workers and attests that no American is available, willing and qualified to do the job. In addition, I do not believe that American employers should be permitted to hire foreign guest workers in those regions with high unemployment rates. In my view, these visas should be available primarily for low-skilled, non-manufacturing work, such as work in agriculture and landscaping.