Sen. Angus King didn’t hold anything back when he shared his opinion of current U.S. trade policy at a recent event in Washington, D.C.
He said it’s “bullsh**” that manufacturers in other countries with weaker labor and environmental regulations are able to sell goods into the United States before improving their manufacturing standards, according to a report from ABC News.
Scott Ogden, a spokesman for Sen. King, confirmed the quote was accurate.
King made the comment at a screening of “American Made Movie,” a documentary about the decline of American manufacturing, hosted by the Alliance for American Manufacturing.
New Balance, which has received a lot of attention lately, is highlighted in the movie. King, along with Rep. Mike Michaud, toured New Balance’s manufacturing facility in Norridgewock on Monday with the U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. The athletic shoe company, which employs 900 people at three manufacturing facilities in Maine, is worried that a trade deal the United States is negotiating with Vietnam will remove existing tariffs and scuttle the company’s domestic manufacturing operations.
According to ABC News, King said he’s not a “protectionist,” but he does want the United States to pressure other countries to raise their labor and environmental standards if they want to sell their products in this country.
“I want to see immediate, measurable goals before they get access to our markets,” King said. “We are in a strong bargaining position because everybody wants to sell here.”
King wants to protect manufacturing in Maine and the United States because it will be integral to the future economy, he said. “You can’t build an economy on taking in each other’s laundry. You’ve got to make something,” he said, according to ABC News.
King’s advocacy for a robust manufacturing sector echoes what Bruce Katz, director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution and author of the 2006 report Charting Maine’s Future, told me late last year in an interview.
Katz said while the previous economy was driven by consumption — “We had literally convinced ourselves that home building was equal to economic growth, which it is not” — the “next economy” is driven by innovation and manufacturing.
“People think of manufacturing as the economy of the past,” he said. “It’s actually the economy of the future.”