RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- President Trump has made clear the road to his reelection runs through North Carolina, but this week his administration is also signaling how the road to a full economic recovery runs through the Tar Heel state as well.
"Imagine a state that both leads the country in tobacco, pork and turkey, and pharmaceutical production--that's some state," Peter Navarro, assistant to the president and director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, told ABC11 in an exclusive interview. "If we don't bring back manufacturing jobs to replace the service sector jobs we're losing from the (COVID-19 pandemic), we're going to be in deep trouble. We understand that."
A new White House report from Navarro's office reports an 18.4% rise in real median household income in North Carolina; at $61,159, the report says "North Carolinians are now enjoying the highest real median household income level since 1984."
The report also lauds the new United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), which administration officials say supports 400,000 North Carolina jobs and $12 billion in revenue, and Opportunity Zones to boost investments in minority communities.
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"It's tax cuts to bring onshore investment, deregulation to make our businesses competitive, it's strategic energy dominance which means keeping fracking wells open. It's fair trade certainly," Navarro said. "The secret of all of this is the onshoring of manufacturing jobs."
Indeed, with more than one million North Carolinians still collecting unemployment, Navarro insists boosting manufacturing is the answer to the lost service jobs in restaurants, entertainment and travel.
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"The people of North Carolina can make auto parts. The people of North Carolina can manufacture vaccines and North Carolina shouldn't have to compete with the sweatshops of China, the subsidies of China, the intellectual theft of China. Let's make the things we need in this country, both in the lower tech and higher tech end--pharmaceuticals, auto parts and everything in between."
As the president makes his pitch to the American people, Democrats are certainly pushing back with their own narrative about the economy and defeating the virus.
"(Trump) has no plan to get rid of this pandemic, no plan to create plans. He's been talking about an infrastructure plan before he got elected. Please, somebody, show me the infrastructure plan that he's put in place," Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina), one of Joe Biden's most ardent supporters on Capitol Hill, said to ABC11. "Joe Biden's background and experiences fit the southern states like a glove."
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Joe Biden has also announced a manufacturing jobs plan, called "Build Back Better", that calls for as much as $700 billion in new investments in buying domestic products and expanding new technology and clean energy projects.
"This country is at an inflection point," Clyburn laments. "I don't live by the stock market. I live by what happens on Main Street and not Wall Street. People live by whether they can educate their children or stay healthy and overcome the challenge of COVID19."
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President Trump's trade advisor promises NC manufacturing boost in second term