Government

Boulton: Iowa Republicans not helping with trade threat

With a possible trade war on the horizon, state Sen. Nate Boulton said Tuesday that Iowa isn’t getting much help from Republican officeholders trying to lobby the Trump administration on the issue.

“I don’t know that there’s a lot of evidence of that helping out Iowa,” Boulton, a Des Moines Democrat and one of six candidates seeking the party’s nomination for governor, told the editorial board of the Quad-City Times.

The Trump administration is in the midst of renegotiating NAFTA with Mexico and Canada. And last month, the administration proposed tariffs against China, which prompted a series of escalating threats between the two.

China has threatened to impose import duties on a range of agriculture products, and last week there were reports China had stopped buying U.S. soybeans.

Gov. Kim Reynolds met with the president last month on the trade issue, and she and other Republicans, including Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, have repeatedly stressed the importance of trade to the state’s economy.

Trump has said his more aggressive trade stand is aimed at helping American manufacturers and workers, which had some appeal to voters who usually voted for Democrats.

Labor unions have long faulted NAFTA, saying the agreement doesn’t adequately protect workers’ rights and wages.

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Boulton, who has been endorsed in the race for governor by the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, said Tuesday that while there are parts of NAFTA that should be renegotiated, “I think blowing up relationships is the wrong way to do it.”

“There are ways that we can be good about raising the standard of living on both sides of the borders with trade agreements, while also making sure that we are supporting the mission of feeding people that are hungry,” he said.

Boulton added that, if he were governor, he also would give more attention to Iowa manufacturing in the trade debate and its ties to agriculture.

Also seeking the party’s gubernatorial nomination are Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell, former U.S. Department of Agriculture chief of staff John Norris, former Iowa Democratic Party chair Andy McGuire, union leader Cathy Glasson and former Iowa City Mayor Ross Wilburn.

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