Romney Is the Most Protectionist GOP Candidate in Living Memory

The Republican presidential hopeful is at odds with his party's free-trade beliefs.

The reason the third presidential debate got so loud is that the only way Barack Obama and Mitt Romney could distinguish themselves from each other was by their decibel level.

Take trade: Both candidates agreed about the need for energy independence, fewer imports, and—above all—more retaliation against Chinese currency manipulation.

They are both wrong. But Romney's shrillness on China is more troubling. Obama is only pandering to his party's base, but Romney seems at odds with his party's free-trade beliefs.

Every president since Richard Nixon has promised and failed to deliver energy independence—and that's a good thing. When America imports more oil than it produces, it's usually because foreign oil is cheaper. Attempts to ramp up domestic energy production artificially—through subsidies and politically correct renewables such as wind or solar (Democratic plan) or ethanol (Romney's promise)—only makes American consumers poorer and kills American jobs by drawing resources away from their most productive uses. There is only one noble goal for any energy policy: cheaper, baby, cheaper.

Equally illiterate is the notion that the hoarding of dollars—by selling more to other countries (exports) than we buy from them (imports)—is the road to riches. Adam Smith debunked this mercantilist fallacy over 200 years ago pointing out that countries maximize their wealth when they trade what they value less for what they value more—whether money or wine.

Yet this fallacy lived on as Romney and Obama each strove to out-China-bash the other. Obama bragged that he had imposed tariffs to deter Chinese tire imports and, with his auto bailout, was selling cars to China rather than buying them from it (a claim that is both false and silly).

Romney harrumphed that Obama hadn't done enough to stop China from taking away American jobs by deliberately undervaluing the renminbi to keep its exports cheap. He promised to declare China a "currency manipulator" on day one, something candidate Obama promised in 2008 but never did.

One silver lining was that both men refrained from recycling the trope du jour of the last election, that Chinese ownership of U.S. debt meant China could decimate America's economy by dumping American bonds at will—never mind that this would also decimate the value of its own holdings. Romney even suggested—rightly—that the power in the China-U.S. relationship was on America's side. Hence, retaliation against China wouldn't trigger a trade war, because that would hurt China's trade-dependent economy far more than America's domestic-oriented one.

But just because China is in no position to retaliate in kind, does it mean that Romney's plan to declare it a currency manipulator and impose sanctions a good one? No. Tariffs on foreign goods hurt American consumers by leaving them with higher prices and inferior goods. And there are more consumers who benefit from Chinese currency manipulation than producers hurt by it. But would a higher renminbi produce more export jobs in the United States? Not necessarily.

A higher renminbi would lower the cost of China's manufacturing inputs—capital goods, oil, raw materials. This means the final prices on Chinese finished products would not change much, nor would the competitiveness of American goods increase significantly. What's more, plenty of American jobs are in import-dependent industries that are harmed by a weaker dollar. Our trade deficit with China allows China to reinvest its surplus dollars in U.S. plants, assets, and debt—all of which provide employment to Americans.

At best, anti-China sanctions are useless. At worst, they are harmful. Many Republicans are therefore uncomfortable with Romney's tirades. House Speaker John Boehner, Florida's Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, and the conservative Club for Growth have all distanced themselves from Romney's position on China, warning that anti-China sanctions would hurt growth.

Romney is the most protectionist GOP presidential candidate in living memory. Odds are he'll be more temperate in office—especially because acting on his bellicosity would require picking an immediate fight with his own party. Still, having campaigned on a protectionist message, he has neutered his ability to champion free trade if he wins. And that's a great pity.

This column originally appeared in The Washington Examiner.

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  • Lord Humungus||

    It's political pandering for Ohio. If elected, I bet Romney will do little or nothing against China.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Yep.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Bingo!

    And he can't do anything about our trade policy either way if he isn't in the White House.

    If Romney gets in, I'm hopin' for an etch-a-sketch on this dealio.

    I would also suggest that in most legal negotiations, the party that wins is the one with the most leverage.

    I know assuming Romney is lying to us out of the gate seems cynical, but then assuming he's always telling us the truth would be naive.

    And threatening to do something like label China a currency manipulator and actually doing it are two different things.

    Think about Reagan using non-existent Star Wars technology to negotiate with the Soviets. If Romney can create leverage out of thin air with threats like this, and it helps him win in a negotiation, then a threats like this can be a good thing.

  • Azathoth!!||

    It's kinda creepy that she doesn't realize that.

  • tarran||

    I should point out that the Republicans' economic philosophy has always been mercantilist - it's in the genetic material they inherited from the Whigs.

    They've stayed consistent while the Democrats went from a party that supported free trade (just not for blacks) to one that supported socialism.

  • LiberTarHeel||

    Great big upcheck to paragraph #1

  • Tybus||

    The one noble goal for energy policy should be to eliminate energy policy.

  • BarryD||

    The first rule of energy policy is, you don't talk about energy policy.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    "I am Jack's increasing fuel mileage..."

  • Loki||

    "I am Jack's enlarged energy subsidy."

  • Rick Santorum||

    The last time we had "free trade," there was a giant sucking sound as good paying manufacturing jobs went to Mexico.

  • tarran||

    And your point?

  • Rick Santorum||

    "Free trade" is a sham that hurts Americans.

  • Question of Auban||

    By that, I take it, you mean that it hurts labor unions who claim to represent the workers they take protection money from.

  • Rick Santorum||

    Yeah, all those LABOR UNIONS who compose 11.4% of the workforce.

  • Question of Auban||

    Slightly above the real unemployment rate - must be a coincidence.

    Why do you believe that free trade "hurts Americans"?

    Why should I be prevented from trading with people I wish to trade with? How would my ability to do so "hurt Americans"?

  • Rick Santorum||

    You can trade with who you want. But if you're buying Chinese, you have to pay extra.

    You mad?

  • tarran||

    You can go to whatever church you want, but if you go to one that isn't Catholic, you have to pay extra.

    You mad?

  • Alex the wolf||

    Hurts some americans that benefit from government restrictions on personal freedom. Benefits other americans who want to freely trade with people in other countries.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    "Free trade" is a sham that hurts AmericansMichiganers.

    Damn southern, non-union states.

  • tarran||

    It hurts Americans?

    How? Who is hurting whom? And how?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    You're being trolled.

  • Rick Santorum||

    Americans who lose their jobs or have their wages slashed because they're competing with little Ching Tsu who makes a few dollars a month.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Well, obviously little Ching Tsu does the job better and for cheaper.

    Not my fault Americans who working in manufacturing are either unwilling or unable to emigrate to where the jobs are.

  • ||

    I don't about "better", but cheaper, yes, I agree.

  • Loki||

    Agreed. "Better", not so much, just much cheaper. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

    That being said, most consumer goods that are manufactured in China are "close" enough to the same quality for most people. Plus when you're just going to replace your iPhone 4 with an iPhone 5 in a year or 2, who cares that it will only last ~2.5 years on average? In the industry I work in though (aerospace), we kind of need things to be a little better quality.

    For instance, there was recently a minor SNAFU where I currently work where we bought "plenum rated cables" from a supplier who got the cables from China. The cables were labeled "plenum cables". Notice the missing word "rated". Turns out they weren't "plenum rated" at all (FYI, plenum rating means they have a higher flame resistance, since they have to go through firewalls in structures). Just one example of "Chinese quality".

  • Rick Santorum||

    Well, obviously little Ching Tsu does the job better and for cheaper.

    Chinese goods are higher quality than American goods.

    /facepalm

    This is what being disconnected from reality sounds like.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Do you have any evidence to disprove my claim other than anecdotes and urban myth?

  • Moe Effingood||

    Chinese goods are higher quality than American goods.

    /facepalm

    My high quality iPhone 5 was made in China by "little Ching Tsu" as you disparagingly call him.

    Fuck you Rick Santorum.

  • tarran||

    Sorry, Ricky, you didn't answer my questions.

    I guess I need to break it down into three questions:

  • tarran||

    I) Who is injured?

  • tarran||

    II) Who is injuring them?

  • tarran||

    III) What form does the injury take Damage to their property? Or damage to their persons? Kidnapping/False Imprisonment?

  • Rick Santorum||

    Only an assburger could interpret "hurting Americans" as literally as kidnapping.

    Do you perhaps have Asperger's?

  • Loki||

    Are you a cumfart?

  • tarran||

    Mary, honey, when people ask you to explain your arguments, it doesn't mean they have Aspergers.

    It merely means that they want you to explain your reasoning.

    You've repeatedly claimed you're smarter than us, so explaining yourself should be child's play!

  • sarcasmic||

    I know. It sure sucks that consumers across the country are paying less for goods made in Mexico, and have money left over to buy other things. It would be so much better if consumers of Mexican goods were subjected to high taxes in the form of tariffs, and then not able to buy other things.

    Do you suggest that Congress should repeal that pesky Law of Comparative Advantage?

    Besides, I thought that Americans were supposed to all go to college because blue collar manufacturing jobs are beneath us.

  • SugarFree||

    Are you guys really arguing with a joke handle?

  • tarran||

    Shut up! You can't judge us! You read Jezebel!

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm bored out of my fucking mind right now. Got nothing else to do.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Are you guys really arguing with a joke handle?

    I thought all the handles were jokes.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    "The first rule of Joke Handle is..."

  • Loki||

    You do not argue with Joke Handle?

  • Question of Auban||

    "Do you suggest that Congress should repeal that pesky Law of Comparative Advantage?"

    It must be repealed. We also must repeal the four laws of thermodynamics! Free energy for all!!!!!!!

  • Rick Santorum||

    It sure sucks that consumers across the country are paying less for goods made in Mexico

    We see the lie of free trade in NIKE (as but one example) where the CEO makes millions and his child laborers make squat, yet the price of their product is grossly inflated. The savings go straight to compensation and benefits for upper management.

    Of course, in libertarian land, the poor deserve to be poor and all the wealthy worked hard for their wealth, so this makes sense.

  • tarran||

    OK Ricky, sweetie, If the Nike is grossly overpricing its shoes, what is to prevent these laid off workers from starting their own shoe factory and undercutting Nike?

    Think hard, Ricky.

  • Rick Santorum||

    They lack capital to start a foreign business venture in India. You idiot.

  • tarran||

    But lil Ricky, I thought you just said Nike was making such a huge profit that they could make money employing American labor!

    It stands to reason that all those laid off American workers and idle factories could produce shoes and undercut Nike?

    Are you admitting Nike did cut their prices after hiring cheaper workers?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    We see the lie of free trade in NIKE (as but one example) where the CEO makes millions and his child laborers make squat...They lack capital to start a foreign business venture in India. You idiot.

    And I care about that because....?

  • Rick Santorum||

    You don't, because you're an autistic libertarian who idolizes greed, material wealth, and the exaltation of the self.

  • tarran||

    HI MARY!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    You don't, because you're an autistic libertarian who idolizes greed, material wealth, and the exaltation of the self.

    And....?

  • Rick Santorum||

    Those are all vices.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Those are all vices.

    To whom?

  • MWG||

    "You don't, because you're an autistic libertarian who idolizes greed, material wealth, and the exaltation of the self."

    ...but you're not a Marxist, right Rick?

  • Rick Santorum||

    No, just Protestant.

  • Loki||

    Go fuck yourself Mary.

  • sarcasmic||

    And I care about that because....?

    Dude, they're rich! I mean, they're rich! You're supposed to hate them because they are rich! How can you defend the rich? They're rich! Every dollar that they have was stolen from a poor person! How do I know this? Because they're rich!

  • VG Zaytsev||

    OK Ricky, sweetie, If the Nike is grossly overpricing its shoes, what is to prevent these laid off workers from starting their own shoe factory and undercutting Nike?

    Overly stringent IP protections and the fact that we have managed trade with China, not free trade.

  • tarran||

    IP protections prevent making good shoes? Since when?

  • BarryD||

    In reality land, the poor who spend the bulk of their income on those Nikes do deserve to be poor, in a sense, yes.

    In Democrat Land, we need to tax prudent people who work and save, and give the money to poor people who blow their money on brightly-colored athletic shoes.

    In Republican Land, it's all the fault of the evil Chinese. Well, in Democrat Land, too. And the two Lands are fighting a bitter war, to see which one can blame the Chinese for more of its own fuckups.

  • T o n y||

    poor people who blow their money on brightly-colored athletic shoes

    They probably just stole them.

  • BarryD||

    Then they deserve credit for resourcefulness, I suppose. It's not easy to steal oversized safety-orange shoes!

    I don't think Nike should be punished for selling shoes people choose to buy, but I have no love for Nike, either, for a number of reasons.

  • Jordan||

    They probably just stole them.

    Only the pro-regressive ones. It's central to their political philosophy.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    poor people who blow their money on brightly-colored athletic shoes

    They probably just stole them.

    But remember, Tony is not a racist.

  • Rick Santorum||

    Tony is both racist and classist.

    He hates poor white people unless they vote the "right way" (that is, Democrat).

  • Rick Santorum||

    In reality, Americans are out of work while the politicians take a dump on them to further their own prosperity, and libertarians are blaming them while defending a corrupt system because they worship greed and will reflexively defend the wealthy.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    In reality, Americans are out of work

    Where is it written that every American MUST have a job?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    It's in the Constitution!

  • Rick Santorum||

    This is why libtertarianism is stupid. So enamored are you with defending the wealthy that you cannot respond to anything that challenges the status quo (unless it's about how you want to smoke weed, man, lay off and stuff). What your response SHOULD have been is that unemployment would be lower with fewer regulations in place because it would easier (and less expensive) to start up new businesses.

    But you can't do that, because your ideology is stupid and shortsighted.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    What your response SHOULD have been is that unemployment would be lower with fewer regulations in place because it would easier (and less expensive) to start up new businesses.

    That is exactly what most people here have said, over and over. But what does this have to do with free trade? Are you saying we should relax regulations here AND implement tariffs?

  • Rick Santorum||

    That is exactly what most people here have said, over and over. But what does this have to do with free trade? Are you saying we should relax regulations here AND implement tariffs?

    Yes.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Yes

    Should this be done within the U.S. as well? Because lower wages in some states hurt the states with higher wages doing the same type of work (autos).

  • Rick Santorum||

    No, because the United States is one nation. My interest is enriching her people, not those of China, India, Mexico, or any other nation.

  • tarran||

    You're enriching them by making them pay more for the stuff they consume?

  • goneGalt||

    Should this be done within the U.S. as well? Because lower wages in some states hurt the states with higher wages doing the same type of work (autos).

    Well... If it means getting rid of that pesky Commerce Clause...

    I am intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter!

  • Question of Auban||

    "you cannot respond to anything that challenges the status quo"

    Tell me, how do you describe what you believe to be the status quo? What is it that you think allows the quo to remain in its current status?

  • Rick Santorum||

    Tell me, how do you describe what you believe to be the status quo?

    A globalist system of corporate and government collusion that enriches special interests at the expense of the people.

    What is it that you think allows the quo to remain in its current status?

    The political class, corporate profiteers, clueless conservatives, malicious progressives, the Cold War, the military-industrial complex, unions, Israel, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, Marxist professors, the two party system...

    In short, a fractured society of competing interests, most of them developed after the Gilded Age.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    unemployment would be lower with fewer regulations in place because it would easier (and less expensive) to start up new businesses.

    That's true, but you haven't answered my question. Where is it written that every American MUST have a job?

    But you can't do that, because your ideology is stupid and shortsighted.

    You're the Time Cube guy?

  • BarryD||

    Were it not for the free market, you couldn't buy sweater vests, Rick.

    Or worse, that's ALL we could buy.

  • Zeb||

    I know that Mr. Cumfarts here is performance art, but where do people get the idea that it benefits the well to do to fuck over poorer people? Where do they think that rich people's money comes from? It certainly doesn't come from everyone being too poor to buy stuff.

  • LiberTarHeel||

    This little libertarian blames those who wouldn't know a free market from a free throw, and/or accuses libertarians of worshiping greed and reflexively defending the wealthy (both of which sound suspiciously like Demopublican traits).

  • VG Zaytsev||

    In reality, Americans are out of work while the politicians take a dump on them to further their own prosperity, and libertarians are blaming them while defending a corrupt system...

    But you are not focusing on the actual problem, which is dollar hegemony and quasi religious regulation that prevent Americans from effectively competing with China.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Huh? Here in WPA we're getting TV ads up the wazoo from Critz and Casey ripping into the GOP for supporting free trade, and China in particular. In 2010, Sestak was running ads asking why Pat Toomey didn't run for the Senate in China since he liked free trade so much.

    Anti-China animus is almost entirely Dem in origin. MR is insulating himself from similar attacks by BO by embracing it.

  • Jordan||

    We see the lie of free trade in NIKE (as but one example) where the CEO makes millions and his child laborers make squat, yet the price of their product is grossly inflated. The savings go straight to compensation and benefits for upper management.

    Nike is a prestige brand, you idiot. It is not difficult at all to find dirt-cheap shoes manufactured abroad. And spare me the bloo-blooing about "sweatshops". Those jobs are a huge step up from subsistence agriculture or child prostitution.

  • BarryD||

    When I was a child, I wanted to be a prostitute. I didn't want to work in a sweatshop.

  • sarcasmic||

    I wanted to be a prostitute

    I still do. But no one wants to pay me to fuck them. So I got married instead.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    I still do. But no one wants to pay me to fuck them.

    Just remember that for every Kate Moss that you fuck, you have 20 Rosanne Barrs you have to fuck.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Don't buy from that other tribe.

  • Question of Auban||

    The Horror! The Horror!!! People want to sell me inexpensive products!!! I can't stand it!!!!!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    We see the lie of free trade in NIKE (as but one example) where the CEO makes millions and his child laborers make squat, yet the price of their product is grossly inflated. The savings go straight to compensation and benefits for upper management.

    Kkkorporation porn, fap fap fap.

  • Rick Santorum||

    Corporations are good and generous and work for the benefit of all, and anyone the least bit skeptical of their benevolence is a Marxist and a socialist and a homosexual.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    anyone the least bit skeptical of their benevolence is a Marxist and a socialist and a homosexual.

    So, in other words, you.

  • Question of Auban||

    I wonder what homosexuality has to do with any of this? Curious that you bring up that subject when it was not raised. For the record I support gay marriage.
    But more to the point, you will find many libertarians of the Austrian School who will readily acknowledge what is described as “rent seeking” – large or established corporations will bribe elected officials to pass laws that they believe will harm their competitors in one way or another. Perhaps you should look into the Austrian School. I encourage you to look at http://mises.org

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "Free trade" is a sham that hurts Americans.

    If only we had a cabinet-level Secretary of Business to implement a carefully crafted national industrial policy over a five year time span.

    The nation would leap forward; directly into the twentififth century and the end of scarcity.

  • sarcasmic||

    We should put all production into the hands of the State, since government doesn't waste precious resources on corporate profits for the rich.

  • ||

    Would that be a "Great" leap forward, Brooksie? -)))

  • Pro Libertate||

    If we actually had free trade and left it that way, our economy--without "help" from the government--could adjust to focusing on things we can do better than others. There are still many of those things, which is why our economy isn't totally destroyed.

  • sarcasmic||

    The problem is that a free market responds to what the people want, and the people want the wrong things.

    People want cheap electricity from fossil fuels, when they should want more expensive electricity from green sources like wind.

    People want powerful vehicles that run on gasoline, when they should want wimpy electric cars or better yet public transportation.

    So that's what government is for. To force people into buying the right things instead of what they want.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    If the rest of the world were either free traders or stupid protectionists, that would be true. However, it is possible for a skilled protectionist regime in a country that has stuff that we need to manipulate our free trade philosophy to their advantage.

  • Jordan||

    And how does that disadvantage us?

  • Pro Libertate||

    There are usually trade alternatives. And we can create our own, being super-wealthy and stuff.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "If only we had a cabinet-level Secretary of Business"

    I swear to God, that's like Obama's "You didn't build that" comment to me...

    Just totally fucking pisses me off!

    He said it within the context of consolidating some agencies, but freaking A! It's like he's trying to live up to the Orwellian stereotype.

    Does he know there's an election next week? Does he think we're deaf and blind? Does he think we don't care?

  • Zeb||

    I think he really believes that having a Secretary of Business indicates that he is "pro-business". Of course, I don't want a pro-business president, I want a pro-free-enterprise one.

  • sarcasmic||

    If you're not "pro-business" then you're
    "against-business".

    That means you oppose American jobs and American products.

    Why do you hate America?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Because that stupid "Horse With No Name" is so....STUPID.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It is, yet I kind of like them. I know, I know.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Are all of us businesses working under the Secretary of Business now?

    Finally, we're ALL working for the government!

  • Loki||

    He just thinks we're all as economically illiterate as he is.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's frightening!

    I think Romney should pounce on this.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Free trade" is a sham that hurts Americans.

    What could hurt Americans more than selling them the products they want at lower prices?

    Jesus!

    And let's not forget what free trade has done for living standards in China. Has there ever been a period in history where more people have been lifted out of abject poverty more quickly than over the last 12 years--since China joined the WTO? Opposing free trade with China is morally pathetic.

    Not only does free trade with China increase the poor here in America's standard of living, it's benefited the abject poor in China beyond their wildest dreams. The only reason to oppose free trade with China is if you're a union stooge. And if I have to choose between getting less expensive products to America's poor and keeping union thugs overpaid?

    I'll pick America's poor every time.

  • BarryD||

    "The only reason to oppose free trade with China is if you're a union stooge."

    Not true.

    There's also racism. If you see poor people in China as non-human and inherently evil, you wouldn't want them to better themselves.

  • Ken Shultz||

    You're right, and I was wrong.

  • sarcasmic||

    But they're not bettering themselves. They're working in sweatshops and living in slums. That is what is seen. That part of how they lived before is unseen, therefore it doesn't exist. All that is seen is sweatshops and slums. So trading with China means you support sweatshops and slums, which makes you an evil person. Better to not trade with them and... well... hmm...

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    PEOPLE MAKING iPHONES ARE JUMPING OUT OF WINDOWS! WE CAN'T HAVE THAT! THEREFORE, mumblemumblemumble.....mumble... KEEP JOBS IN 'MURCA!

  • Loki||

    They're working in sweatshops and living in slums.

    Yeah, I mean, their government should just give them all a wellfare check and subsidized housing, or something. That way when our tarrifs cause them to lose their jobs, their government can just tax their rich people more and take care of their poor... what's that? Where are the rich people going to get the money to pay their taxes once they can no longer afford to keep their factories open because Americans can't afford to buy anything thanks to the high tarrifs? Ummm...

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Oh come on. Very few people in 2012 fit into that category.

    What racism against Chinese that exists is usually born of anger over jobs lost, not the other way around.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yellow Peril! has always been associated with the fear of losing jobs in this country.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_peril

    It's hard to separate chicken and egg.

  • Rick Santorum||

    Free trade slashes wages and benefits for Americans. You "pick" America's poor in that you make more Americans poor for the shortsighted goal of BUT IT COSTS LESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS (even though it doesn't really and this is obvious to anyone who doesn't spend his time fellating the wealthy).

  • Question of Auban||

    The people who "pick" America's poor are those who advocate regulations and taxes that put the American worker at a comparative disadvantage for the manufacture of many products.

  • Rick Santorum||

    Americans expect a higher standard of living than Africans. There will always be a "comparative disadvantage" for first world countries because the rest of the world is a shithole.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    There will always be a "comparative disadvantage" for first world countries because...

    I don't think that means what you think it means.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    because the rest of the world is a shithole.

    And if we trade freely with them, they just might use that capital to raise themselves up. So they are not such a "shithole" as you say.

  • Question of Auban||

    If the rest of the world is as "shitty" as you claim the American worker should have no problem beating the pants off of the rest of the world in terms of quality - that is unless there are regulations and taxes that make this quality more difficult.

  • ||

    Americans expect...

    Stop. You lost right there.

    Nobody gives a good godamn what you "expect", because that has absolutely nothing to do with what you are entitled to. You are entitled to the right to exchange your labor of whatever sort to an employer for whatever compensation you can negotiate for it. The standard of living that you "expect" is not a part of that equation.

  • pmains||

    You mean Africans will always have an absolute advantage. It is logically impossible for Africa (or anywhere) to always have a comparative advantage.

    We could throw some theoretical numbers and scenarios together, but you really need to invest a little bit of time in understanding the difference between absolute and comparative advantage. There's probably something on YouTube, or you could pick up just about any economic textbook. Whether it's written by a Democrat like Krugman or a Republican like Mankiw, there is shockingly little dispute about the basics of microeconomics.

  • Ken Shultz||

    You don't seem to get that no one owes you a job.

    You don't seem to get that we're all consumers--regardless of whether we work in manufacturing.

    More consumers than manufacturers out there; in fact, there are lots of people who are consumers that don't work in manufacturing--but everyone that works in manufacturing benefits from free trade with China as consumers, too!

    You don't seem to get that all the money poor people save by way of trade with China goes to things they couldn't have have afforded to buy otherwise--increasing their standard of living.

    You also don't seem to get that trade protectionism that protects overpaid union workers makes poor people pay more for things--and it makes it so they can't afford to buy other things they would have been able to buy without protectionism.

    Nobody owes you anything but liberty and justice, and if you think poor consumers should have to suffer a lower standard of living--becasue they owe that to overpaid union workers? Then I'm gonna say you're off your rocker.

  • sarcasmic||

    How can the poor buy cheap Chinese crap when there are no jobs because the evil corporations are shipping them overseas?

    Please ignore the multitude of rules and regulations that prevent jobs from being created here in the States. That is not their intent. Well, in some cases it is. But that doesn't matter. Government is us and corporations are them. We must blame them, not us. So it's the corporations' fault. We are government and government is us, so government cannot be to blame for anything.

  • Ken Shultz||

    (C)

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Free trade slashes wages and benefits for Americans.

    Which Americans? And why should America, or any other so called first-world country be entitled to better wages than non-first-world countries?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Because teh brown people and RAAAACIST!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    And, just so you know- if it weren't for those bastards at Monsanto, Africa would be a paradise.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    You know what would be awesome- if the government dictated what types and styles of shoes could be sold (and at what price) in America, and then had them made only by specially licensed manufacturers, whose wages and business practices were strictly regulated.

    Because that would be AWESOME.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I think he really believes that having a Secretary of Business indicates that he is "pro-business".

    But you don't want to get all crazy about it. "Business" is beneficial, in the same way people who pump out septic tanks are beneficial; but nevertheless, you know, ICKY.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    However, it is possible for a skilled protectionist regime in a country that has stuff that we need to manipulate our free trade philosophy to their advantage.

    By subsidizing our purchases of their products?

    SNEAKY.

  • Question of Auban||

    Those damned Japanese! How dare they help with my car payments!! [Shakes fist]

  • califernian||

    "Romney’s stated positions are wildly at odds with the Republican Party’s free-trade beliefs."

    Please! What evidence do you have for this? Republicans are and have always been opposed to free trade.

  • Alex the wolf||

    Well said Robert, a libertarian salutes you.

    Willard is what this economy needs to start growing for real. We dont need a liberatarian revolution, just someone businesspeople can trust so that they make investments and hire more people.

  • Alex the wolf||

    Ups sorry, wrong article

  • Calidissident||

    Manufacturing has actually continued to increase over the past ten years and is at an all time high. The number of jobs has decreased, but that's also true in almost every European country and even ... GASP China! Automation is a bigger cause of job loss than free trade. And that's not a bad thing, any more than all the loss of farm jobs a hundred years ago was. Also, for all the talk by Santorum about how only corporate stooges support free trade, protectionism is one of the most historically common crony capitalist tools used to benefit domestic corporations and unions.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Manufacturing has actually continued to increase over the past ten years and is at an all time high."

    OMG, somebody's injecting facts into the conversation!

  • Whahappan?||

    Do you know how many agriculture jobs have been lost in the past century?!!!

  • triclops||

    Who will speak for all the unemployed coopers and candlemakers?!

  • BMFPitt||

    The Republican presidential hopeful is at odds with his party's free-trade beliefs.

    What party would that be? I thought he was a Republican.

  • Lisa||

    I think many Republicans are protectionist, they just use different rhetoric than Democrats: er jebz vs little slave kids

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    One hour we do not speak. I thought a lot. Finally, still feel like saying it's the fox is not possible, we Cheap Football Cleats can not find evidence that the gray-haired woman does not show fox, but no evidence, just to prove that the fox can transform himself into a cheap ugg boots for women white-haired woman. And to compare with each other, or scientific concepts prevail.

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