President Trumpets End Of ‘NAFTA Disaster,’ Beginning Of USMCA
February 5, 2020
(WARREN) – President Donald Trump used his fifth visit to Michigan as president to herald the demise of the “nightmare known as NAFTA” and Wednesday’s signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which he proclaimed would bring more jobs back to the U.S. and the arguably politically swing state of Michigan.
At a minimum, USMCA will mean 80,000 more jobs, but 120,000 were more likely, the President said. The auto and dairy industries will be the big winners from a trade deal that will close the “terrible, unfair loopholes” that arguably marked NAFTA, signed in the Clinton administration.
The promise of new jobs coming amid an improving economy was the Republican President’s message, as he looks in his Nov. 3 reelection bid to retake Midwestern states like Michigan, which propelled him into the presidency in 2016.
Thursday’s event at Dana Inc. was an official White House event, with the crowd of 700 people standing for the entire speech. At one point, they broke into spontaneous chants of “four more years” and “USA,” giving the event more of a campaign feel.
The speech drew frequent applause, especially when he talked about “that glorious phrase . . . Made in the USA.” The President called out prior politicians who “promise to do something about the NAFTA disaster” only to “take your votes and go back to Washington and look at the beautiful columns, be intimidated by the marble and the beauty and the power and not come back.
“But I came back. A lot more companies are moving in and they’re producing jobs like you’ve never seen before,” Trump said. “So, I just wanted to say I kept my promise and not only my promise in loving the people of Michigan and the people all over this country, but in making sure other countries aren’t ripping us off.”
The credit to the better trade deal, however, should go to “our brothers and sisters in labor” who stood in solidarity to bargain for a better deal after Trump’s first proposal was “seriously flawed,” said AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber after the speech.
“Now for the first time, there will be labor standards that are actually enforceable,” he said. “We are grateful for Democrats in Congress for fighting for, and delivering, a trade deal that working people can proudly support.”
Unlike Trump’s campaign rallies, the 32-minute address was brief by Trump standards and most attendees were in suits, ties and other assorted business attire. A vast majority were men.
Five of Michigan’s six Republican members of Congress — U.S. Reps. Jack Bergman (R-Watersweet), Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland), John Moolenaar (R-Midland), Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) and Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden Twp.) — were present as were at least 20 GOP state legislators.
House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) and Rep. Diana Farrington (R-Utica) greeted the President as he disembarked Air Force One at Selfridge Air Force Base. Brian Calley, the president of the Small Business Association of Michigan, Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bednarski and Harrison Twp. Supervisor Kenneth Verkest also met Trump, who flew to Iowa after the address.
Prior to his address, the President entered the large factory floor crammed with machinery and industrial tools. He was shown what appeared to be a shiny new axle and a Dana Inc. sales chart. The enormous Warren manufacturing plant makes mostly axles and drive shafts for Ford and Fiat Chrysler.
The Warren plant is one of 25 major operations for the Maumee, Ohio-based company.
The President made some news in the visit, saying he was seriously considering basing F-35 fighter aircraft at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said if the assignment comes to pass, the new F-35 fighters would ensure the base’s long-term viability.
He said after talking about it “long and hard” on the flight into Michigan, the President has decided to give Iraqi Chaldean Christian refugees “an extension to stay in our country.”
Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes, Macomb County Commissioner Robert Mijac and worker Tony Durkacs stood outside Thursday’s event and accused Trump of “broken promises to Michigan workers.”
They said Michigan lost 5,300 manufacturing jobs last year due to Trump’s “erratic trade war” and the workers who lost their jobs last summer in the General Motors Warren Transmission Plant shutdown. This comes after Trump told Michigan on the campaign trail that “if I’m elected, you won’t lose one plant.”
“Yet again, Donald Trump is coming to Michigan to tell tall tales of economic success and promises kept,” Barnes said. “But I can tell you, Michigan voters aren’t buying it. They see the side of our state that Donald Trump refuses to mention.”
Trump, however, held up the opening of the new Fiat Chrysler Detroit-Hamtramck plant as a victory. It’s the first new Detroit plant in more than 30 years, he said.
Macomb County, in particular, is expected to be a hotly contested race this fall. Trump did markedly well in this blue-collar area, winning the county with 54% in 2016 based in large part on his plain-spoken appeal to the working class and his pledge to bring back auto-related jobs.
By comparison, Republican Mitt Romney lost Macomb County in 2012 with less than 48% of the vote.
However, a recent poll sponsored in part by Oakland University, has Trump down 13 points to a generic Democratic nominee. An EPIC-MRA poll has him down seven points to Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, six points to Joe Biden and five points to Bernie Sanders.