Romanoff unveils a plan to reward investment in American-based businesses

By Leslie Jorgensen
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

COLORADO SPRINGS — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff unveiled a five-point plan this week to reverse America’s burgeoning foreign trade deficit and loss of jobs to countries, including China, India and Mexico.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff offers a 5-point trade policy to boost America’s exports and save jobs during a tour of Springs Fabrication in Colorado Springs.
Photo by Leslie Jorgensen/The Colorado Statesman

“We’re exporting opportunity and importing unemployment,” declared Romanoff.

The deficit has continued to escalate since 1975, the last time that the United States had a trade surplus because more goods and services were exported than imported.

“Over the last decade, our annual trade deficit has averaged roughly half a trillion dollars,” he said.

Romanoff proposed a plan to help America become more competitive in the global market during a press conference on Wednesday at Springs Fabrication in Colorado Springs. Standing on a metal-ramp overlooking industrial workers, Romanoff’s voice was barely audible of the whirring noise of machinery.

The trade imbalance, he said, has been exacerbated by foreign countries offering financial incentives to American companies to build plants and create jobs overseas — and the U.S. tax code grants tax deferments to those companies.

Companies can produce goods and employ workers more cheaply overseas. However, that has resulted in the loss of American-based companies and jobs.

Romanoff’s five-point plan would:

1) Impose import duties on goods and services from countries such as China that manipulate their currency to an artificially low value in order to sell products more cheaply.

2) Negotiate and enforce trade agreements that will enable American companies to be more competitive in the global market and continue to uphold the rights of workers and protect the environment.

3) Revise the tax code to add incentives to encourage investment in American-based companies and workers.

4) Enforce laws against intellectual property theft, dumping, illegal boycotts and other predatory trade practices.

5) Require imported goods to be properly labeled and meet U.S. food and product safety standards.

American workers, he said, are being forced “to compete against countries that undervalue their currency, violate labor laws, abuse human rights and degrade the environment.”

“This globalization has hurt our industry,” said Tom Neppl, president of Springs Fabrication, a family-owned business established in 1986, and is now one of the largest milling centers in the Rocky Mountain region.

He said that the costs of abiding by federal regulations, such as those enforced by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Association) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), increase the costs of goods and services made by American companies — and that impedes their ability to compete in the global market against countries without standards.

The loss of product and service sales eventually leads to company closures and the loss of jobs.

“Companies that were built over years and years are being auctioned off in a day,” said Neppl, holding up a 3-inch stack of auction notices for failed businesses.

Not only are jobs exported overseas, so are manufacturing processes and high tech research and development. Those losses erode America’s reputation as an innovative leader in creating new technology and systems.

The manufacturing and information sectors have taken the hardest hit. Colorado lost 64,000 jobs in these industries over the past 10 years.

Bob Powell, a consultant with Continuous Improvement Associates, said that Colorado Springs has lost 14,600 manufacturing and high tech jobs since November 2007. The only way to reverse the trend, he said, is to creative incentives for foreign countries to import American goods and services — and that will stimulate job growth in United States.

Romanoff said, “Congressional inaction is costing our nation millions of jobs.”

If elected to the U.S. Senate, he vowed to reform trade policies, retool the tax code and strengthen the nation’s position in the global
economy.

“Many of the products we are importing are dangerous — and even deadly,” declared Romanoff.

The candidate balked when a TV reporter asked, “Is this isolationism?”

“No,” retorted Romanoff, “I believe in competition. I know that in a fair fight, America will win. But this fight isn’t fair.”

As Romanoff’s campaign noted, he is the first candidate — among Democrats and Republicans — in the U.S. Senate race to present trade policy reforms.

Romanoff, who served as Colorado House Speaker, is running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet. The Democratic nominee will run against the winner of a Republican primary contest that will likely include Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, former Colorado Lt. Gov. Jane Norton and former state Senator Tom Wiens.

Leslie@coloradostatesman.com