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U.S. Senate candidates Berkley, Heller, trade barbs on Chinese currency issue

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By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Last week it was a dispute about the Small Business Jobs Act and whether it will create any jobs in Nevada that generated controversy between the two major party candidates for the U.S. Senate.

This week the issue is Chinese currency manipulation and its negative effects on job creation in Nevada and the nation that has the candidates firing back and forth.

Jobs, or more precisely the lack of jobs, is clearly the key in the U.S. Senate race between Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Rep. Shelly Berkley, D-Nev.

In a telephone conference call today, Berkley blasted Heller for opposing the legislation that would impose sanctions on the Chinese government for manipulating its currency, a practice she said has cost nearly 2.8 million jobs in the U.S. between 2001 and 2010, including 14,800 in Nevada.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., addresses the Legislature earlier this year. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“This election is about one issue: jobs,” Berkley said in a telephone conference with the media. “Nevada’s unemployment is still a record high. However, not everyone in Washington is working to create jobs for Nevada and for the rest of our nation. In fact, there are some here in the nation’s capital who are doing the exact opposite.”

The Senate voted 79-19 in support of the Chinese currency bill, with Heller, appointed to fill out the term of John Ensign, who resigned, voting against the measure. Some Democrat senators voted against the bill as well.

“This is not just unacceptable, it is shameful, and it shows my opponent just doesn’t get it,” Berkley said. “Across the state Nevadans are scratching their heads, and they are asking: ‘who do you work for Dean, the Chinese, the Chinese government, or Nevada’s working families.’ Job creation needs to be our top priority.”

Heller, speaking in support of three amendments to the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform bill on the Senate floor today, said the measure takes the wrong approach to job creation and could be detrimental to U.S. economic growth.

dean-heller-3909121-7865870
U.S. Senator Dean Heller.

“Inciting a trade war with China will not create jobs,” he said. “In my home state of Nevada, a trade war would hurt tourism. It would stifle growth in renewable energy development and increase costs to consumers at a time when they can least afford it.

“Working to sell American goods in foreign markets is what we should be fighting for,” Heller said. “Instead, it seems job creation and economic growth has taken a back seat to political posturing and grandstanding here in Washington.”

Heller has proposed an amendment to the legislation that he says would help create jobs in the U.S. by addressing government policies affecting the domestic critical minerals supply chain.

“Within the United States are some of the largest concentrations of rare earth minerals in the world,” Heller said in a release discussing the amendment. “At a time when Nevada is leading the country in unemployment, we need access to the natural resources in our backyard now more than ever.”

He also spoke in support of an amendment to the legislation that will rein in excessive federal regulations that are stifling job creation.

Heller said the proposal would require a market-benefit analysis so the public can know the true cost of any proposed regulations.

Berkley said during the telephone conference that the U.S. is already in a trade war with China, one that Nevada working families are losing. The measure would level the playing field, she said. By keeping the value of their currency artificially low, it makes it impossible for American manufacturing to compete, Berkley said.

Audio clips:

Rep. Shelley Berkley says Heller is not working to create jobs in Nevada:

100511Berkley1 :19 the exact opposite.”

Berkley says Heller is siding with the Chinese government over unemployed Nevadans:

100511Berkley2 :19 doesn’t get it.”

Berkley says Nevadans want to know who Heller is working for:

100511Berkley3 :13 our top priority.”

Sen. Dean Heller says the currency bill could incite a trade war with China:

100511Heller1 :24 least afford it.”

Heller says working to sell American goods in foreign markets is what we should be fighting for:

100511Heller2 :23 have failed miserably.”

Heller says Congress needs to roll back regulations that are tying the hands of entrepreneurs:

100511Heller3 :14 pockets of Americans.”

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