The Washington Post: Mike Huckabee open to tariffs on China

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee struck a nationalist, populist chord in an appearance at the annual Iowa State Fair Thursday, telling The Washington Post that new tariffs might be a fair response to China's devaluation of the yuan this week.

[Reposted from The Washington Post  |  David Wigel  |  August 13, 2015]

"I think we need to keep open the idea of tariffs on China," said Huckabee, after speaking at the political candidate "soap box" organized every cycle by the Des Moines Register. "They've cheated on the trade agreement. They've manipulated their currency. They've stolen ideas from us, and violated every law of intellectual property."

China's move, the largest devaluation of its currency in this century, has rattled international markets without making much of an impact on the presidential race. Only Donald Trump, the tycoon-turned candidate who sits stubbornly atop Iowa polls, has made a cause out of the yuan news. But atop the soap box, Huckabee told the story of a man named Mark who was "working three part-time jobs" after a job that paid better than the lot of them moved to Mexico.

"There are a lot of Americans who are sweating through their clothes, they’re lifting heavy things, and they're not getting a lot to show for it," said Huckabee. "It used to be if you just got through high school and got a good job, you could move up in the middle class."

Huckabee's answer, as it had been in his 2007 run for president, was to replace the tax code with the consumption-based FAIR Tax. After a member of the audience asked if 4 percent growth -- a target set by former Florida governor Jeb Bush -- was achievable, Huckabee said the FAIR tax could spur growth of 6 percent per year.

"We can't work when government regulation, taxation, and regulation creates job migration, and folks are getting the jobs in China, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia," Huckabee said. "I don't care whether they have jobs there, but I sure as heck care that people in this country have good jobs with good wages."

In the scrum after the speech, Huckabee told reporters that China had, for years, threatened American manufacturing and gotten away with it. "I'm well familiar of what the Chinese do when they dump steel into this country," he said. "That jeopardizes American jobs and American free enterprise."

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