Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum says he has done the math when it comes to combating global warming, and the answer is to bring manufacturing jobs from China to American soil. Santorum said during Wednesday night's "undercard" Republican debate that Americans have lost 2 million jobs to trade with China.

"Why don't we -- if we really want to tackle environmental problems, global warming, what we need to do is take those jobs from China and bring them back here to the United States, employ workers in this country," Santorum said. "We've lost 2 million jobs -- 2 million jobs -- under this administration in manufacturing -- 15,000 manufacturers have left this country. Why? Because of bad tax policy, bad regulatory policy and, yes, bad trade policy."

Santorum claimed that the jobs would be done in America at lower CO2 levels, all while boosting the U.S. economy. To make America manufacturing more competitive, he said that he would lower the taxes for corporations.

China was granted permanent trade relations status in 2000, which eliminated the possibility that there could be an increase on goods. Santorum said Wednesday he would place tariffs on Chinese goods. 

Trade with China currently provides significant revenue for American manufacturers. The move in 2000 spurred more trade between the countries. In 2014, total trade with China was greater than any other single country, approaching $650 billion in exports and imports with a trade deficit of about $316 billion, according to MSNBC's Ed Schultz.

Some attribute job decline to the 2000 deal, but employment in the sector began dropping decades before. Since its peak in 1979, manufacturing employment has been on the decline. The number of jobs has declined by 7,231,000--or 37 percent--since 1979, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Economist Martin Baily from the centrist Brookings Institution said some of the job losses can be attributed to the deal, but not all.

"Part of what has happened is that there has been consolidation in the industry to take advantage of larger scale production," Baily told Politifact. "Manufacturing is changing because of technology and trade and that inevitably will lead to plant closures."

There is also the question of whether American manufacturers are looking to bring jobs home. In his State of the Union address this year, President Barack Obama said that more than half of manufacturing executives are actively looking to move factories to America. However, surveys do not back up his claim. He is correct that 54 percent of those surveyed “expressed interest in reshoring,” but only 16 percent said they are “already bringing production back from China to the United States,” reported FactCheck.org.

 

 

Santorum was one of the four candidates invited to the lower tier debate, which aired prior to the prime-time debate. The other candidates selected for the earlier forum were Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former New York Gov. George Pataki and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

To qualify for the debate, candidates needed to garner at least 1 percent of the vote in recent respected national polls. In the most recent CBS-New York Times poll,  Santorum was supported by just 1 percent of Republican primary voters. 

In reference to his campaign strategy, Santorum told Fox News that the “pack can thin,” especially after the next debate a week from Wednesday in Boulder, Colorado.