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Paul Ryan Bashes President on Chinese Currency Manipulation, But Ryan Opposed the Bill That Would Have Stopped It

The Romney campaign decided to put its new attack dog, Paul Ryan, out on a foreign policy measure today. Specifically, they had him discuss global trade, and Chinese currency manipulation.

Ryan, the GOP vice presidential candidate, was speaking in North Canton, Ohio, on Thursday.

“We also need trade that works for us. We come from manufacturing states. We make things, we grow things,” Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, said Thursday. “They [China] steal our intellectual property rights. They block access to their markets, they manipulate their currency.

“President Obama promised he would stop these practices. He said he would go to the mat with China,” the Wisconsin lawmaker continued. “Instead, they’re treating him like a doormat. We’re not going to let that happen. Mitt Romney and I are going to crack down on China cheating.”

Hmm, I wonder if Paul Ryan ever had a chance before this to make his feelings on Chinese currency manipulation known? Let’s see. Well, in 2010, the House passed a bill proposed by the other Ryan in Congress, Tim Ryan (D-OH), called the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act. The bill would have allowed the government to impose duties on any country found to be manipulating their currency, and it clearly focused on China. It passed the House pretty easily, by 348-79 on a bipartisan vote.

Paul Ryan voted against it. He was the only member of the Wisconsin delegation to do so. He was one of only 79 hardliners in the House to do so. He pronounced himself with his vote OK with currency manipulation that costs this country millions of jobs due to artificially low-priced exports.

You cannot find too many members of Congress in the Midwest who voted against this bill. The entire Michigan delegation voted for it. The entire Pennsylvania delegation voted for it. Only four members in Ohio, including then-Minority Leader John Boehner, voted against it. Only Mike Pence in Indiana voted against it (Steven Buyer did not vote).

But Paul Ryan did, aligning himself with corporate America, who likes those cheap imports from China so they can benefit from outsourcing their factories.

Unfortunately for Ryan, Mitt Romney needed someone to bash the President in a vaguely racial way, so he had to do a complete 180 on the issue within the first week of his Vice Presidential candidacy.

Incidentally, the President has done very little to bring this bill, which passed the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2011, any closer to passing into law. The President has enforced some trade laws against China at the WTO. He also steered the passage of three more corporate-written trade deals. His record on trade is decidedly mixed. But Paul Ryan is a straight-up hypocrite.

UPDATE: Alex Moe and Mark Murray at NBC actually managed to mention this. I haven’t seen another campaign reporter do the same.

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David Dayen

David Dayen