For weeks I have said that I believe the Rust Belt is going to go to President Donald Trump. When I was on the ground in Michigan and Wisconsin talking to voters last month, I heard the same thing on repeat: midwesterners are happy NAFTA is gone and the USMCA brought manufacturing jobs home. Every single person I talked to hammered home the importance of the trade deal and the jobs that came with it. Remember, these are areas where entire families – and even entire neighborhoods – may work for the same company. If the plant shuts down or the business relocates, it doesn't just devastate that city or town. It devastates the entire area.
In 2018 then-Gov. Scott Walker (R) and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation worked tirelessly to get Oshkosh Truck – the last major manufacturing operation in the city – to stay put. Eventually the state struck up an $8 million tax incentive to help the company build a new worldwide headquarters. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Transportation Economic Assistance program also provided the city with almost $800,000 to modify the main highways getting into and out of Oshkosh Truck. The company has roughly 600 jobs at its worldwide headquarter location, a win for the city, state and employees alike.
President Trump went into his term with the goal of renegotiating trade agreements – like NAFTA – that had a detrimental impact on manufacturing jobs in the United States, like those at Oshkosh Truck. Why would companies choose to keep their businesses in the United States when they can move their manufacturing to other areas, like Canada or Mexico, where wages are lower? There was no incentive for them to remain here. Under USMCA, businesses like Oshkosh Truck have reason to want to stay here, where they can fairly compete with others.
The Trump campaign did a phenomenal job highlighting the issues with NAFTA by playing a montage of Joe Biden touting how great competition with China has been. In the Rust Belt, they associate China with the outsourcing of jobs. And they're not entirely wrong.
"I'm supporting NAFTA because I think it's a positive thing to do," Biden said in the 1990s. "And I do not pretend to be an expert on international trade matters."
Sen. Bernie Sanders slammed NAFTA, saying it's been a disaster for American workers.
"Trade agreements like NAFTA ... which force Americans to compete against people who are making pennies an hour, has resulted in a loss of 160,000 jobs." Sanders said.
Biden has repeatedly said that a "rising China" is great for America and the rest of the world.
Then there's the whole issue of fracking, which Biden continually flip-flops on. One minute he says he wants to ban fracking and implement the Green New Deal. When he's in places like Pennsylvania, he says there won't be any kind of bans on fracking.
The single greatest montage for the Rust Belt: pic.twitter.com/Rv3oeyFYbZ— Beth Baumann (@eb454) October 26, 2020
Why would people in the Rust Belt want to go backwards to a time when people were losing jobs left and right because the leaders in the White House cared more about the Chinese people than the American people?