This is the fourth part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, trade and job creation is worth 9 points.
This section of the dossier has been revised and updated to reflect the general election field.
According to the Caesar Rodney Institute, which defines itself as a “Delaware non-profit committed to protecting individual liberty,” the state’s economic status is in a long-term decline, so this category is important for our federal legislators to keep in mind. They obviously have input on our trade policy and hopefully are in tune with the idea that government can create the conditions which enhance opportunity. (Aside from limited jobs in creating and maintaining federal infrastructure, the government seldom creates jobs with actual value like, say, an oil derrick worker, a guy on the line at Jeep, or an architect who works with the private sector.)
Once again, I am going by party beginning with the Republicans for House and Senate, respectively, then proceeding through the Libertarians, Independent Party of Delaware candidates, and finally the incumbent Democrats Lisa Blunt Rochester and Chris Coons for House and Senate, respectively.
Lee Murphy (R) (House)
Lee doesn’t stray too far from conventional wisdom here, calling for an end to unnecessary regulations and more tax cuts. Pretty standard stuff. He does make the point that, “(i)nstead of passing minimum wage legislation, I will work tirelessly to bring real jobs back to Delaware.” The problem is that he’s left things really open-ended, although I suspect if prodded he can expand farther on these points. If he realizes that the true minimum wage is zero because it’s a job that was never created, then we may be on to something.
In looking at Lee’s previous campaign, I gleaned a lot more information about places he may go. Two years ago he advocated for Delaware to become a motion picture center, noting, “Having been in the motion picture industry for the past 30 years, and having lived and worked in New York and Louisiana, I have seen how, through innovative political leadership, these states have attracted the motion picture industry – and the dozens of related industries that support it – creating thousands of new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in added revenue. This, in turn, creates priceless exposure for their respective states. Why can’t we do the same here?”
Lee also opined in his 2018 campaign that, “Delaware once had a competitive advantage in the banking and payment systems industries. I believe a focused effort on training in coding, artificial intelligence, and database management, coordinated through the University of Delaware, Delaware State and the other fine institutions of higher learning throughout our state, could capitalize on the dynamic fintech and blockchain segments which are here to stay!” Perhaps he needs to bring back these old chestnuts and add them to the conversation. 5.5 points out of 9.
Lauren Witzke (R) (Senate)
Out of all she has said on the subject (and there is a lot!) there are two lines which I think best sum up her philosophy:
“Get me to Washington to ensure we rebuild American industrial might and promote FAIR trade! Let’s Make America Great Again and put America and her workers first!”
“I commit to supporting our unions, their right to collective bargaining, and incentivizing companies to hire American.”
Let’s look at these one at a time. I believe in free trade, but to make trade truly free we have to get it to be fair first. To do that, we need to have sensible tariffs until an overall balance is reached. While that may smack of protectionism, the idea is that we use the time to build up our competitiveness, not coast and make Trabants. Where we need the cattle prod is to insure improvement – if companies want to be part of the American rebirth, they must work quickly to be competitive.
Where I definitely part with Lauren is her blind support of organized labor. I believe in the right to work because it’s proven to be a job creator (companies prefer to locate in right-to-work states and jurisdictions) and it makes the union sell itself to the employees – they have to give a good reason and return on investment to workers who can forgo membership in an open shop. There are unions in right-to-work states so some must succeed in convincing employees and employers that they are fair bargaining agents.
I think a national right-to-work law would be a good thing, but it is an overreach on state’s rights. By the same token, there should be no federal prohibition on the right for states to mandate open shops. 4 points out of 9.
David Rogers (L) (House)
I’m quite disappointed I can’t find anything he’s said on this vital topic. No points.
Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)
It’s a very succinct way of saying it, but Nadine recently noted that regulations are “permanent solutions to temporary problems.” In her eyes, the best thing Congress can do is go through U.S. Code and cut things out. Sounds like a solid start. 5 points out of 9.
Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)
I’m sure she has something to say about this considering she’s a small business person herself as an Uber driver. I’ll give her 1 point of 9 for that.
Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)
Turley, who is also a businessman, couches many of his remarks on the government response to the pandemic, which he called “a good idea in theory, but poorly run.” And while he favors deregulation and is a “strong believer” in Made in America, he also isn’t opposed to government helping his chosen industry out at the expense of others, which hurts him a little bit here. 3.5 points out of 9.
Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)
She has heavy union support, which is not necessarily a help to job creation. In her previous campaign, she argued for tax credits for hiring but negated any help that would provide by demanding a higher minimum wage and the Obama-era overtime rules. Yet she also was an advocate for vocational training, meaning she has a more mixed bag than most Democrats. The only problem is that these are issues which mainly could (and probably should) be handled at the state level. 2 points out of 9.
Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)
As he says, “Chris also has a long record of protecting the rights and pensions of organized labor, advancing trade policies that support American workers, and ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
A champion of American jobs that build a strong, thriving middle class, Chris strongly supports raising the minimum wage, protecting the rights of workers and unions, and requiring equal pay for equal work.”
It sounds great until you think about treating the biggest slacker at work the same way you reward the guy who puts in 110 percent every day. This may be the biggest problem I have with organized labor, as someone I love dearly told me long ago, “unions are for the lazy man.” And Chris has Big Labor so far up his behind that no one knows where they stop and he begins. That little bit of protectionism isn’t enough to mask very serious flaws in the approach. 1 point of 9.
House: Murphy 15, LBR 3.5, CSP 3, Rogers 2.
Senate: Witzke 19.5, Frost 15.5, Turley 4.5, Coons 1.
I’m going to gather a little more information, so the next part may be circling back to energy issues or pressing forward to my next intended part, taxation. Whichever one comes first, it will probably arrive around midweek.