Obama Announces WTO Action Against China for US Car Duties

Posted July 5th, 2012 at 4:55 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama says his government will fight to hold China accountable for practices harming American automakers.

Speaking at a campaign stop near Toledo, Ohio Thursday, Mr. Obama said Americans need a “fair playing field.” He announced a new complaint with the World Trade Organization on more than $3 billion in allegedly unfair Chinese duties on American-made cars.

Toledo is home to a big auto plant complex. Mr. Obama told the crowd that six previous WTO challenges to China have been successful.

Mr. Obama is spending Thursday and Friday in Ohio and Pennsylvania, two crucial states in the November general election.

He carried both in the 2008 election, and recent opinion polls show him holding a narrow lead over his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. The president will use the campaign swing to portray himself as a champion of average, working-class Americans, and to portray Romney as a wealthy businessman before he entered politics.

Romney is enjoying a break from the campaign, vacationing with his family in New Hampshire.

In a CBS Television interview, Ann Romney said her husband is considering a woman as his vice presidential running mate — an option she says she “loves.” The Romney campaign has said it is looking at a number of vice presidential candidates, but has not named anyone.

Mr. Obama's return to the campaign trail comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that his landmark heath care reform law was constitutional. The ruling upset Republican opponents of the law, especially the key provision that Americans who do not have health insurance must pay a penalty. The court ruled that the penalty is actually a tax and is constitutional.

The Romney campaign initially described the provision as a penalty. But Romney told CBS News he now agrees with the Supreme Court ruling that it is a tax. Romney imposed a similar provision in the health care law he enacted when he was governor of Massachusetts.

Mr. Obama's campaign tour could be overshadowed by Friday's scheduled release of the June employment rate. The dismal jobs report for May showed the economy created just 69,000 jobs, while unemployment rose slightly to 8.2 percent. It was a blow to Mr. Obama's claims that the U.S. economy has improved since he took office.

A report released earlier this week shows U.S. manufacturing shrank in June for the first time in nearly three years — raising new questions about the direction of the economy.