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Ryan, Hagan Differ On Mahoning Valley Jobs, Lordstown, More Ahead Of Debate

A banner depicting the Chevrolet Cruze model vehicle is displayed at the General Motors Lordstown plant in this In this Nov. 27, 2018, file photo

Youngstown-area U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and other Democrats say the Trump administration has offshored more than 200,000 American jobs and the companies responsible were awarded $425 billion in federal contracts. 

The stats, released Monday, were compiled from Department of Labor assistance programs and federal spending figured by Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch.

Ryan's opponent this November, former Ohio State Rep. Christina Hagan (R), believes the numbers cited by Ryan and the Public Citizen's organization are a result of previous policies, like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Hagan touted President Donald Trump's new United States, Mexico and Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA).

"They're simply not looking at the numbers in the current time but in the previous time to those policies being passed and we won't be able to see the results of [USMCA] immediately," Hagan said.

The Lordstown automotive plant, recently sold by General Motors to electric startup Lordstown Motors, had 4,000 union jobs with GM when Trump entered office, Ryan said.

"It was us talking to the president, sending letters to the president, getting no response," he said Monday. "It was the head of the union, sending two letters to President Trump, got no response and then when it all fell apart, what did the president do? He blames the head of the union."

Hagan said Ryan's contentious relationship with Trump led to that outcome.

"That had a lot to do with Tim Ryan's personality, him waking up swinging his fist at the president every single day of the year instead of working with the president," Hagan said. "I mean, [Ryan] brought the CEO of Lordstown Motors to the State of the Union, the same State of the Union that Congressman Tim Ryan walked out of.

"The CEO of companies that are creating jobs in his backyard are meeting with the president of the United States,” Hagan said, “[It] just shows that [Ryan's] narrative doesn't reflect the reality of the district.”

In a virtual press conference with is non-profit, progressive consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen and Democratic Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), and Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Ryan said Trump's proposed budgets have zeroed out grants that would have helped Lordstown Motors – though some applicable grants have since been reinstated by Congress.

"Tax credits from the consumer side; the president has consistently been against those, consistently left them out of his budget," Ryan said.

Ryan also spent much of his time in the virtual press conference highlighting Democratic challenger Joe Biden's plan and Ryan believes the Democratic platform is what the electric vehicle industry needs.
"Battery storage, charging stations, artificial intelligence, all of these things are going to be part and parcel to help us; investments in the workforce training, investments in education," Ryan said.

Hagan said both she and Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns are in frequent communication with the Trump White House. 

"We're now working on a weekly basis with the White House political affairs team," Hagan said. "They want to see our region thrive and they want to see leaders that they can work with that are collaborative and intentional about job creation."

Ryan also used the Monday event to emphasize that he believes rejoining the Paris Climate Accords could result in other countries upping their environmental goals with higher standards for pollution control, helping the electrical vehicle industry.
"Driving the decisions that are being made, shaping those decisions that are being made around climate and helping other countries, especially or allies, recognizing that there are huge economic benefits for moving in this direction," Ryan said. "Make sure our allies recognize and understand that we are going to reengage, we are going to be committed and we are going to help drive saving this plant and it can be done while also creating jobs."

Hagan believes Ryan's hope to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords is misguided.

"We know that we can't control every other player but we can control ourselves," Hagan said. "So, what we need to do is advocate for job creation across all fronts, not one particular sector over another."

The Mahoning Valley is poised to add ethane cracker plants, Hagan said, which heat ethane, a component of natural gas, to the point that its molecular bonds break apart and form ethylene, a key compound in plastics manufacturing. 

"If we are just not imposing additional regulations and instead rewinding and reducing unnecessary and burdensome regulations from our local economy and our ability to produce energy right here at home, we're going to see all types of supply chain manufacturing opportunities," Hagan said.

Ryan, Hagan and Libertarian challenger Michael Fricke will debate Oct. 12 at Youngstown State University. 

Glenn Forbes is supervising producer of newscasts at Ideastream Public Media.