The Democratic candidate running for the South Carolina’s Second Congressional District seat in November says tariffs imposed by President Trump are hurting South Carolina businesses.
Sean Carrigan is challenging incumbent Republican Joe Wilson for his congressional seat, which largely covers the Midlands around Aiken and the Columbia suburbs. South Carolina Radio Network asked Wilson about the tariffs on his 18th Annual Bus Tour of the district last week.
“Right now we have a lot of Joe the Plumber type people out there that are losing their jobs,” Carrigan said, referring to the Ohio native Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, who became a symbol of working-class conservatives during the 2008 presidential race.
“We know that the Element TV factory, they’re shutting their doors. This is hurting other small businesses as well,” Carrigan said. Earlier this month Element announced it was closing its Winnsboro plant because it couldn’t afford the higher cost of components due to tariffs imposed on imports from China.
“This is hurting South Carolina workers. It’s going to end up hurting workers in the Second Congressional District because there’s a lot of support services that happen in the Second Congressional District that support the Element factory and the BMW factory,” he said. “Nothing good is going to come out of a tariff war.”
He also criticized the need for new subsidies provided to farmers after China imposed its own tariffs on U.S. soybean imports. China is one of the largest importers of U.S. soybeans in the world.
“Farmers don’t want to be bailed out,” Carrigan said. “Farmers want to produce their good and they want to sell them with the pride and the intent that they grow their crop and the goods. They don’t want to have a bailout. The just want a fair price and that’s what fair trade does for them.”
“Free trade has always been the mantra of the Republican Party and free trade is actually something that I, as a Democrat, support,” Carrigan said. “I think we need to let free trade take its course with these types of items without interference.”
“The MOX facility absolutely should be continued,” Carrigan said. “There is no perfect alternative. There’s no other viable alternative that keeps public safety in mind.”
The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication facility (MOX) slowly being built in Aiken County would convert weapons-grade plutonium currently stored at the Savannah River Site into nuclear reactor fuel. Although funding for the project was included in the most recent defense spending bill approved by Congress earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Energy wants to discontinue the project as its budget balloons well over projections.
“We need to stop playing games with the Savannah River Site,” he said. “The Savannah River Site is one of the most important nuclear sites in the country and it’s right here in our back yard in the Second Congressional District. We need to fully fund the Savannah River Site keeping safety in mind.
Carrigan also said funding for the SRS needs to be consistent and predictable, and employees there should be exempt from furloughs if the federal government shuts down over budget disputes. “We need to stop funding it on a year-to-year basis where we grant extension after extension after extension on those resolutions and go to a five or 10-year funding for the Savannah River Site. Because a site of that importance needs predictability,” he said.
Although Carrigan would not name which politicians he would prefer to see among the House leadership, he had a lot to say about its direction.
“Our country was really great when we had a bunch of people willing to work with each other in the middle of the road and put things forward so we could get things done incrementally,” he said. “It would be nice to have everyone get 100 percent of what they want all the time but that’s not just going to happen.”
“For too long we’ve had a do-nothing Congress,” he said. “There’s agendas being set that are so polarizing that we’re unwilling to talk to each other or unwilling to move positive agendas forward.”
Carrigan said he “fully expects” a blue wave of Democrats being elected to Congress in November to flip majority party control.