Donald Trump

Trump's Terrible Trade Ideas Would Make America Small and Weak

The presumptive GOP nominee is selling an economic fantasy.

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credit: ARCHIE CARPENTER/UPI/Newscom

Donald Trump's big speech on the economy yesterday was, not surprisingly, a festival of bad ideas and false statements. But even more than that, it was a rejection of the idea that America should be a fully engaged participant in the modern international economy.

Trump's address was billed as a jobs speech, but its main focus was outlining an intensely protectionist view on trade. In particular, Trump blasted trade deals like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, describing them as tools of powerful special interests. And he lamented what he described as a lack of response from the political class, saying that "when subsidized foreign steel is dumped into our markets, threatening our factories, the politicians do nothing."

Trump is simply wrong about this. As economist Keith Hennessey points out, President George W. Bush imposed steel tariffs on Chinese steel in 2002, and just last month, the Obama administration imposed additional duties on steel from China and a number of other countries. I am not endorsing these actions, but it's incorrect to say that the executive branch has done "nothing" in response to Chinese steel imports.

Okay, so Trump botched the details. No surprise there.

But over the course of his campaign, Trump has made it abundantly clear that the details don't matter. So let's look at his argument more broadly. Basically, his position is that politicians haven't done enough to respond to foreign trade, and that major free trade deals should be ended or substantially renegotiated in order to protect industries like steel from foreign competition.

That's pretty rich from someone so adamantly opposed to trade deals that favor special interests—because Trump's response, it turns out, is essentially that the U.S. government should treat the mid-century manufacturing sector as its own special interest, a special economic class to be protected at all costs, because it represents something iconic about America. 

And make no mistake: The costs would be extremely high. As Hennessey writes, pushing American businesses to rely on more expensive American steel would raise costs for other manufacturers, not only raising the cost of living for most consumers, but raising costs for other industrial employers. Similarly, Trump's proposal to require American infrastructure projects to be created with American steel wouldn't create jobs, as Trump claims, but would limit the number of projects that could be constructed, and thus reduce the number of potential jobs.

Meanwhile, Trump's focus on mid-century manufacturing jobs simply ignores the evolving and dynamic nature of the American economy. Yes, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has lost 5,100 steel-worker jobs in recent years—mostly because of innovation and productivity improvements, not trade—but it has also gained 66,000 health care jobs over the same time frame. But modern health care jobs aren't iconic in the way that trade jobs are. 

Trump's anti-trade rhetoric is as much symbolism as it is policy. It's a vehicle for a specific kind of economic fantasy, in which the American economy somehow returns to its twentieth century structure, and then stays that way, static and unchanging, forever. 

That's just not how economies work. And even if somehow the old economy could return, it still wouldn't be able to support all of the demographic, workforce, and technological changes we've seen over the last few decades. The old economy was slower and smaller, and evolved in part because of the need to scale up. 

In any case, even the most aggressive anti-trade policies aren't going to return the country to the economy of fifty years ago.

What they would do, however, is cut off the United States from the world economy, making both Americans and the rest of the world substantially poorer in the process.

Perhaps as importantly, that sort of severing of international trade ties would dramatically reduce America's standing in the world—and rightly so. Trump speaks often about rebuilding America's global standing, but his trade policies would do incredible damage to the nation's international reputation. Instead of making America great and strong, Trump would make it small and weak.

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  1. “Trump blasted trade deals like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, describing them as tools of powerful special interests.”

    I know their solutions differ but didn’t even Ron Paul agree on this?

    1. These gargantuan supra-national regulations are, of course, tools of special interests. Regulatory capture 101.

      They are only “free trade” deals if you think “crony capitalism” is “free trade”.

      1. Who cares if we’re conflating competing terms like free trade and crony capitalism. As long as it gives us a chance to bash Trump, were on board.
        -reason editorial board

        1. Hillary sucks, therefore I have to support whatever stupid positions Trump favors
          -Trumptarded Libertarian.

          1. I don’t support Trump in the least. But I at least have the brains to recognize Clinton is probably stupider on trade* than Trump because she can’t even get her premises right.

            *replace trade with immigration, taxation, job creation, due process, private property rights, free speech, the second amendment, due process, drone assassinations, nation-building or ethics and the statement is equally accurate.

            1. What makes you think Trump’s premises are any more correct than Clinton’s?
              Clinton has the merit of being institutionally wedded to the post-WWII neo-liberal consensus. Which is not libertarian, but certainly is better than the retarded populist merchantilism that Trump offers.

              1. Trump’s premises are that NAFTA, TPP et al are bad policy and are not in our best interests as a nation. As far as I’m concerned, those are correct premises.

                1. You don’t understand the meaning of the word “premises”.

                  1. And yet, his post uses the term correctly.

                    1. “NAFTA is bad policy” is not a valid “premise” unless you think “trade is bad” some sort of a priori definitional thing.

                    2. NAFTA is bad policy and in this much he is correct. He is entirely wrong, however, in not proposing the alternative of true free trade (or even something closer to free trade). NAFTA is bad, but Trump’s proposal is worse.

                    3. “NAFTA is bad policy” is not a valid “premise” unless you think “trade is bad” some sort of a priori definitional thing.

                      Sorry, but NAFTA is a governmental policy and a such, is defined by its details, such as those with laws and regulations and limitations and all the other things which affect NAFTA.

                      Now I’m not saying NAFTA is bad, but I am saying that NAFTA is not directly equivalent to trade itself. IE – NAFTA != trade

              2. I’ll point out that “retarded populist mercantilism” is exactly how the United States, Great Britain, and now China, got rich in the first place.

            2. I’ll agree with much of that, but Trump loves him some eminent domain abuse. Not sure where Hillary stands on that, although I could take a guess.

            3. No one is more stupid than a Trumptard.

              1. Just curious, I wonder if Trump pays his bets off when he loses.

                1. Just curious, I wonder if Trump pays his bets off when he loses.

                  I’m sure he does. But that’s easy to do when you have money and/or the skills to earn it. Be fair.

                  1. Of course he does. Casinos that don’t pay out get closed by the regulators.

                2. He runs casinos, so of course he pays off on bets, but first he makes sure that the odds are stacked in his favor.

              2. So plug must be a Trumptard, because he sets the bar for retardation. Pay your bet, shitstain.

          2. Who said that?

            1. RC Dean and John (both TEAM RED! shills) whom HazelMeade expertly took down yesterday.

              1. Pay your bet, fuckstain.

              2. “RC Dean and John (both TEAM RED! shills) ”

                And admittedly not libertarians.

                Oops!

                You can’t fuckkng read.

              3. PB thinks I’m a TEAM RED shill, despite:

                (a) My consistent statement that I don’t want Trump to be President, and

                (b) My oft-expressed position that the Republican Party serves no libertarian purpose, and that I hope it implodes to clear the way for a new party that just might.

                1. PB is a retard who never debates in good faith, and only shows up to puke his crapitude on threads. Fuck what he thinks about anything.

          3. And FWIW, Hillary doesn’t suck. Hillary is a despicable human being that directly participated in the assassination of American citizens not charged with crimes, planned the assassination of a head of state and destabilized two nations with the ensuing gun-running program she put in place which has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people.

            No, she doesn’t suck. Monica Lewinsky sucks.

            1. PHAKE SKANDULZ!!1!!!!!

            2. I’m getting the feeling you won’t be pulling Hillary’s lever in November.

              1. Not unless she’s sitting in the electric chair.

                (Just kidding, Preet!)

      2. I think even the often heard argument: “well, free-er trade” is debatable. Seems a bit like swallowing poison and the antidote.

    2. Ron Paul did (& probably still does) agree. Libertarians argue both sides of this. Some point out that no matter what, agreements like these never increase trade barriers, only lower them. Others point out that they come with quid pro quo that encourage gov’ts to adopt restrictions on domestic industry to qualify for better rx in trade.

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  2. The Republicans have always been at war with Eastasia against free trade, as the Trumptards keep pointing out.

  3. “MAN WHAT A GREAT YEAR FOR LIBERTARIANS TO NOMINATE A NEW EXCITING CANDID-…….what?….

    WILLIAM FUCKING WELD???? ARE YOU SERIOUS????..

    Man, fuck this.”

    1. You mean nominating a moderate centrist in a year in which both major parties went full retard is a bad idea?

      1. I would say nominating a moderate centrist in a year where there is a major popular backlash against business as usual is a bad idea, yes.

        1. It is yet to be seen whether there is really a major populist backlash, or if that backlash is limited to just the extreme partisans in each party.

        2. Moderate centrism is the domain of the unprincipled.
          -Ken Spicer, 2016

          1. ” I mean, I like Liberty, but we aren’t in love or anything creepy like that”

          2. Lack of principles is better than bad principles.

        3. “let’s give them something only slightly different than their usual POS candidates. We don’t want to shock them into a coma or anything guys, amirite?”

        4. “What we need right now is a sensible return to the status quo that got us here.”

          People want risk. When the public is told that sane proposals are what got us into this mess, they’ll start wondering if crazy ones would work better.

          I give this much to the public. They may not know what caused the problem or have a flippin’ clue how to fix it, but they know there’s a problem and they aren’t taking it philosophically.

          1. But they DO know what causes a lot of the problems. And they’re lashing out at the people that caused them by supporting outsiders like a Trump…because he at least has the sense to point out those problems and the cause of them (namely the elected officials of the two major parties over the last 50+ years).

            The only alternatives to Trump that are being presented are:
            1. More of the same from Team Blue
            2. More of the same by Team Red
            3. More of the same from Team LP

            No fucking wonder he’s gaining traction. He’s the only one pointing out the correct cause.

            1. How about the corrupt cronies who fund and enable to politicians? No blame there? You know, like Trump himself.

              1. Why blame people that make an investment in their company’s interests? If you take the power away from politicians then the companies will cease to curry favor.

                So no, the companies are not at fault here in the slightest.

                1. By that logic, why blame anyone working to forward their own interests? Politicians, for instance.

                  1. By your logic, the two following scenarios are equally ethical:
                    1. A business lobbies to get preferential treatment in a trade deal because others have control over his ability to reach the marketplace by way of legislation and regulation.
                    2. A politician, with the armed agents of the state at his/her back, passes regulations or legislation based on who pays him the most money.

                    Seriously?

                    1. Of course, by refusing to distinguish the difference between companies who have unavoidable bureaucratic hoops to jump through in order to do business and companies who seek to erect those hoops to discourage competition, you completely miss the point.

                    2. Only one has the force to effect others, and if you took the majority of that power away from them, you would see far fewer people trying to curry favor with them.

                      But I appreciate the honest debate. Seriously. I jjust think we disagree.

                    3. if you took the majority of that power away from them, you would see far fewer people trying to curry favor with them

                      I completely agree with this. It’s the same argument I give when people complain about lobbyists which is obviously related to this current discussion. Also, it is the only real solution to cronyism.

                      My point is that regardless of the philosophical roots of the problem, crony businesses using the “armed agents of the state” via their political proxies to serve their ends deserves as much criticism as the politicians.To exclude one from discussion is not pro free-market.

                    4. sloopy, just what, exactly, constitutes this “preferential treatment in a trade deal”?

                      The fact that some trade barriers are lowered but not others?

                      *Any* lowering of trade barriers is an increase in liberty, because the liberty of the BUYER is always increased, no matter which side of the border he is on. If increased liberty of the buyer puts some sellers at a competitive advantage, that’s a consequence of the free market.

                    5. I consider it preferential treatment when some industries are given different trade deals than others by the people with guns on both sides of the “negotiation” (as opposed to the actual sellers and buyers negotiating on their own…which would be free trade.

              2. I tend to see that more as companies paying protection money to be left alone. Microsoft never made political contributions, but then started after an anti-trust investigation. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

                1. In some cases, completely true. In others, you have companies making sure that the status quo is in their favor, no matter how corrupt you have to make it to happen.

                  1. Yep, also true.

                  2. And you think those few examples swallow the reality of the others?

          2. Johnson/Weld don’t offer a return to the status quo. They offer a way past the two-party deadlock. As in actual progress instead of perpetually refighting the culture wars.

            1. I’d really like to have your optimism. But in light of their walking back virtually every libertarian position to that of one between the other two parties, I have to wonder if they’re aware they are in the LP instead of Ross Perot’s Reform Party of years past.

              1. Ross Perot’s Reform Party was anti-Free-Trade, maybe you should switch.

                1. Read my definition of what free trade is. I’m pretty fucking sure I’m way better than any of the current political parties on the American landscape.

      2. Where have you gone, Dancing Thong Man? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

      3. A Masshole RINO? THAT sure hasn’t been tried before!

  4. “Yes, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has lost 5,100 steel-worker jobs in recent years?mostly because of innovation and productivity improvements, not trade?but it has also gained 66,000 health care jobs over the same time frame. But modern health care jobs aren’t iconic in the way that trade jobs are.”

    There’s nothing like health care and education to make one think of a thriving free-market economy.

    1. I wonder how many of those “health care” jobs are administrative and the result of burdens imposed by Obamacare rather than actual productive work?

      1. Obamacare is really just the tip of the iceberg.

        http://tinyurl.com/zwox9n9

        1. Even I didn’t realize it was quite that bad.

          1. Libertarians used to point out the silliness of pointing to “jobs” as a measure of health in the economy.

      2. Whether they are sending medical bills or changing granpa’s diapers, more healthcare workers don’t make for a stronger more productive economy.

      3. I wonder how many of those “health care” jobs are administrative

        A rough allocation of health care jobs between caregivers and others is probably around 50/50, maybe 60/40 heavy on others.

    2. Since when are doctors and nurses not “iconic” professions, anyway?

      1. “Since when are doctors and nurses not “iconic” professions, anyway?”

        I guess since the rise of male nurses.

        1. Euphemisms. Out of hand.

          1. If your euphemism is out of hand, yer doin’ it wrong.

      2. It’s not doctors and nurses.

        It’s insurance functionaries.

        Whose quasi ‘white-collar’ jobs pay less than the manufacturing jobs that went away–and are often paid with tax dollars–meaning that they’re a cost more than an asset.

  5. No alt-text? On that picture?

    I has teh disappoint.

    1. Alt-text is the tool of the populists, seeking to curry favor with unwashed masses of the commentariat.

      If it were up to Suderman, there would be no pictures at all. Nor headlines. Learn to read, dipshits!

  6. Anybody that believes NAFTA, the TPP, CAFTA and any of the other myriad trade deals are “free market”, needs to have their head examined. Those deals suck because they are designed to perpetuate the stranglehold special interests have on marketplaces and are further designed to either stop competition or erect barriers to entry so onerous that few even bother.

    Trump is right in his premises, if wrong in his solutions. But at least he will get us talking about the problem as opposed to those that would prefer the idiotic status quo.

    1. You don’t know a goddamn thing about the TPP. Stop pretending you do.

      1. Pay your bet, assnugget.

      2. So the TPP is free trade? It equally tears down barriers in both directions?

        1. Its free trade because it creates a new trans-national regulatory regime, silly.

          Do you even crony, brah?

          1. I guess that “legalize, tax, and regulate” isn’t an improvement over prohibition then.

    2. This is exactly the same shit I was hearing from my proggie-socialist sister 20 years ago, with a right wing twist on it.
      Blah blah, we want FAIR trade, blah blah blah. What about environmental regulations? What about labor regulations? Meanwhile never offering up a mechanism to get to a trade deal that is actually freer, just using it as an excuse to maintain trade restrictions that benefit a few domestic interests (mainly domestic manufacturing).

      Let’s face it, NOT having a trade deal at all IS crony capitalist, by definition. Trade barriers favor certain domestic interests over others, by default. If a trade deal generally lowers restrictions, that is a net benefit, even if it also means that some different collection of crony capitalists still collect favors. By opposing trade deals you are effectively supporting the current crony-capitalist set of protectionist trade measures.

      1. Allowing companies to sell across borders without imposing restrictionist policies on them is part and parcel of every free trade agreement. That is not remotely close to any of our trade deals.

        I’m sure I’m letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, but I’ve yet to see a trade deal that ever made trade freer in the net. It always made things in some industries better at the expense of making them worse for others. I mean, sure we have new pistachio markets to sell to but our rubber tire manufacturers get fucked. Or we can export cigs to China cheaper but we will sacrifice our transformer manufacturers.

        Free trade is best handled without government intervention at all. Pretty much like every other aspect of my life.

        1. It always made things in some industries better at the expense of making them worse for others. I mean, sure we have new pistachio markets to sell to but our rubber tire manufacturers get fucked. Or we can export cigs to China cheaper but we will sacrifice our transformer manufacturers.

          Here’s your problem. You’re thinking the only beneficiaries are the industries who sell stuff, not the consumers or industries who buy it. Yes, trade deals mean currently protected industries lose domestic markets, and some other industries benefit by being able to sell into foreign markets. But so do the people who can now *buy stuff* that they otherwise couldn’t buy FROM foreign markets. And that’s not just end consumers who can not buy cheap crap from China, but also intermediate industries who can buy parts from China to make a finished product domestically, for either domestic consumption or export. The trade deals make the entire supply chain more efficient because you can buy and sell parts or products from any market and not pay tarriffs no matter how many times it crosses the border in the process. It’s a vast improvement in overall efficiency.

          1. Yes, trade deals mean currently protected industries lose domestic markets, and some other industries benefit by being able to sell into foreign markets

            Then they, by definition, are not free trade deals. Ever. Period. So let’s stop treating them as if they fucking are and call them by an accurate name.

            1. Nonsense. The fact that some industries benefit from being able to SELL FREELY doesn’t mean it’s not free trade. OF COURSE freer trade is going to harm previously protected industries, and benefit industries that stand to gain. That’s a given.

              1. The fact that some industries benefit from being able to SELL FREELY doesn’t mean it’s not free trade.

                Iget your point and agree overall that expanding trade, even in the current environment is a good thing, however, I disagree one cpuld call it free or freer.

                As if rent seeking and lobbying is required to get that freedom, as those are costs which end consumers will pay for, so not free.

                Furthermore, if this industry or product with no trade restrictions, can exist only when the government expressly allows it, this is also not freedom.

                Afterall, if you must all permission to do something, then you are not free to do it. And even if allowed, that which the government can give, they can also take away.

                So the rent seeking coats will be continuous, costs which will be found in the end price of the products, because failure to play could mean the end of their “freedom”.

          2. It’s a vast improvement in overall efficiency.

            I’m not concern d with efficiency. I’m concerned with Liberty. These trade policies do not enhance the latter across the board for all participants. They pick winners and losers, which is most assuredly not the job of government.

            1. Nonsense. Liberty is currently being restricted for some players who *can’t buy* from foreign markets, in order to protect domestic industries.
              If we dropped all trade barriers today, then by definition the currently protected industries would be harmed, and the currently restricted buyers would benefit.
              The increase in liberty of the domestic buyer doesn’t decrease the liberty of the domestic producer. It costs the domestic producer because he can’t force people to buy his product anymore.

              1. Liberty is currently being restricted for some players who *can’t buy* from foreign markets, in order to protect domestic industries.
                By governments
                If we dropped all trade barriers today, then by definition the currently protected industries would be harmed, and the currently restricted buyers would benefit.
                No, every party would benefit because they would have more Liberty.
                The increase in liberty of the domestic buyer doesn’t decrease the liberty of the domestic producer. It costs the domestic producer because he can’t force people to buy his product anymore.
                So you’re advocating for selective protectionism? Fuck that.

                1. You have severe reading comprehension problems. You’re objecting to freer trade because the *loss of protectionist tarriffs* harms some domestic industries, and you’re claiming that decreases the liberty of said domestic industries.

                  My point is that a reduction in tarriffs is, by definition, an increase in the liberty of domestic buyers. It doesn’t fucking matter if domestic industries are “harmed” by an increase in the liberty of domestic buyers.

                  We could unilaterally eliminate all tarriffs and that would be an increase in liberty, even if China dropped ZERO of it’s trade barriers, because ALL tarriffs are a decrease in liberty. They don’t have to be “equally” reduced on both sides.

                  You’re basically saying that freedom can only increase in America if it also increases by an equal amount in China.

            2. We’re not picking winners and losers by ceasing to protect domestic industries. We’re allowing the free market to decide which people win and lose by removing protections for some industries.
              Yeah, that means some people win and some lose, but the actual “picking” is determined by the market.

              1. No, you’re picking winners and losers because you’ve already created barriers to who is allowed to play the game. Sorry, but you can’t pat yourself on the back and say “sure, we’ve created massive barriers to entry, but it’s a free market for those we deemed worthy enough for us to let them play.”

                1. Which barriers of entry are those? Are you trying to argue that you can’t have free trade unless the entire economy is universally deregulated?

                2. Could you specify which US barriers create winners and losers?

                  I’m in trade and the US is pretty open.

  7. Yes, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has lost 5,100 steel-worker jobs in recent years?mostly because of innovation and productivity improvements, not trade?but it has also gained 66,000 health care jobs over the same time frame.

    AND ALSO THE STANLEY CUP. Free trade with Canada WORKS!

    1. most of those 66,000 are Obamacare compliance specialists to be sure, so…success?

  8. nominating a moderate centrist somebody who in no way embodies the fundamental conceptual basis of your political movement in a year in which both major parties went full retard is a bad idea?

    Yes.

    Next question.

    1. Gary Johnson “in no way embodies the fundamental conceptual basis of your political movement” ? Seriously?

      Is that because he’s pro-immigration and pro-trade? Or because he hasn’t promised to abolish the IRS and legalize heroin and prostitution? Because we know that’s what the voters are REALLY craving, right? A guy who wants to legalize heroin and prostitution would just be a smash hit this election year!

      1. “Because we know that’s what the voters are REALLY craving, right? A guy who wants to legalize heroin and prostitution would just be a smash hit this election year!”

        I’d vote for the first time ever.

        1. I’d vote for it too, but I’m sane enough to realize that candidate is not going to win an election this year, or any time soon.

          1. “I’d vote for it too, but I’m sane enough to realize that candidate is not going to win an election this year, or any time soon.”

            Is that important?

          2. So, you’re ok with compromising your principles to win, you just don’t like who others are compromising their principles for to win.

            Got it.

            1. I consider voting for Johnson considerably less of a compromise than voting for Hillary or Trump.

      2. Voters want free shit too, but a libertarian candidate shouldn’t give them that either.

        God damn you’re stupid.

  9. Yes to protectionism, yes to mercantilism, yes to returning to the 16th century.

    Thomas Hobbes 2016!

    1. On the plus side, governments were much smaller then.

      On the minus side, those governments weren’t accountable to the people or subject to the rule of . . . oh, never mind.

  10. Clinton has the merit of being institutionally wedded to the post-WWII neo-liberal consensus.

    Ahhh. There’s your trouble.

    1. As I said, it’s better than Trump’s retarded populist merchantilism.

  11. “Perhaps as importantly, that sort of severing of international trade ties would dramatically reduce America’s standing in the world?and rightly so. Trump speaks often about rebuilding America’s global standing, but his trade policies would do incredible damage to the nation’s international reputation. Instead of making America great and strong, Trump would make it small and weak.”

    I’d support Trump if he said “piss on our international reputation!” – if rolling back our trade deals could reduce the cronyism and special interests within the nation, it might be worth if for that reason alone.

    1. that sort of severing of international trade ties would dramatically reduce America’s standing in the world

      International trade ties are not evidenced by transnational trade agreements, you know.

      his trade policies would do incredible damage to the nation’s international reputation\

      And? I’ve noticed most things done to bolster our international reputation seem to damage our national interests.

  12. So, he’s going to sell off most of the country and wipe out the population?

    Sorry clown Suderman, that’s what your scenario would require.

  13. Gary Johnson “in no way embodies the fundamental conceptual basis of your political movement” ? Seriously?

    Weld was the reference. Nice try, though. To be honest, I’m not sure Gary “Republiican Lite” Johnson really captures the essence of libertarianism particularly well.

    Maybe the Libertarian Party platform should include mandatory $10,000,000 liability insurance for gun owners (per gun). Sensible. Moderate.

  14. I really like Rand Paul because he speaks in very clear terms. When he’s done, I understand exactly where he stands and why. (And I usually agree)

    With Trump, I can’t tell if he’s against these trade agreements because they are shitty crony-capitalist deals that raise barriers to competition (the Ron Paul position I probably agree with). Or, if he’s just against free trade. I also can’t if his solution is protectionism (which I disagree with) or cleaner free-trade agreements (I want).

    1. “With Trump, I can’t tell if he’s against these trade agreements because they are shitty crony-capitalist deals that raise barriers to competition (the Ron Paul position I probably agree with). Or, if he’s just against free trade. I also can’t if his solution is protectionism (which I disagree with) or cleaner free-trade agreements (I want).”

      I think Trump is banking on this. He’s basically said his tariff is a bluff, and won’t need to be implemented as other nations will back down and make better trade deals – of course saying that out loud probably doesn’t help him.

      He does pretty clearly state he wants to reduce corporate taxes and regulations though.

    2. He’s just against Free Trade. He’s been complaining about the yellow peril since the 80s, when it was all about those evil Japanese cars.

      1. Yes, its very clear he has had this fallacy in his mind for a long time.

        Someone should ask him if he thinks it smart for other countries to ban the sale of land to foreigners like himself.

        I bet he could argue that was “dumb.”

    3. Its negotiation.

      If you want to restructure an agreement, you open with wanting to cancel it. I do it all the time. It changes the default from “status quo” (why should they give you better terms if that’s the default?) to “nuthin'”.

      1. It’s a negotiation for what, exactly?
        Why is it the US government’s job to increase the liberty of consumers in China?
        If Chinese consumers want to buy US products it’s their job to lobby for a reduction in tarriffs on their end.

        1. Why is it the US government’s job to increase the liberty of consumers in China?

          It’s not, nor is the goal of getting China to reduce tariffs an effort to increase the liberty of consumers in China. It’s an effort to increase the liberty of producers in the US by allowing them to more effectively compete in other markets.

          Something which is in the interests of both US businesses and their employees, some of whom vote, making it a political interest as well.

          1. I’m absolutely in favor of trying to get other people’s governments to lower their barriers to US products, but not if the “negotiation tactic” is decreasing the liberty of American consumers to purchase theirs.

            That’s like saying I promise to shoot myself in the foot until you stop shooting yourself in yours.

        2. Why is it your job to increase anyone else’s freedom anywhere?

  15. I also can’t [tell?] if his solution is protectionism

    I’m pretty sure he’s a full bore protectionist. He appears to be quite willing to bankrupt the country for the benefit of a few [insert industry] jobs.

    1. But he’s allowed to sell our sacred soil to foreigners. (He sells apartments to any rich foreigner who wants one.)

  16. small and weak

    Like his hands?

  17. Time to take a quiz on who said what about free trade.

    Today’s Quiz: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton ? Who Said It?

  18. Speaking of Trans-National Partnership:

    “The Paris Agreement was a turning point for our planet,” the leaders said in a joint statement. “Our actions to align climate and energy policies will protect human health and help level the playing field for our businesses, households and workers.”

    The leaders also announced changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement, “liberalizing” rules of origin for a range of products, while calling for action to address excess global steel supply and illicit financial flows that could benefit terror groups.

    Excess steel supply? Really? I was under the impression that steel manufacturers, being run by rational individuals, would stop supplying steel to the market if there really was an “excess”. Why would they make more of something that no one is buying? But of course, we must have government tell them what constitutes excessive supply! Otherwise, um, otherwise, we’d, uh, have too much steel, or something. And we can’t have that.

    1. To much steel means someone wants to raise their profit level of steel though limitations in production. follow the money which regulator has steel stocks?

    2. China invested in a ton of new capacity. Then their market collapsed, and they have massive overcapacity.

      They fired 500,000 steel workers in China. Its bad.

      Steel is an industry that every country wants to keep around as “strategic” because its the “commanding heights” of old school manufacturing.

      Maybe also because you use it to make guns and tanks?

  19. Ah free trade. The unicorn for libertarians.

  20. the reason there’s a disconnect between most economists who favor free trade and many americans who fear it is because you can’t put the benefits of free trade on television. you can put a recently out of work husband and father, with a mortgage, who has no other discernible skills on every channel and have them tell a story that everyone can relate to.

  21. If NAFTA caused us to lose all our jobs to Mexico, why are Mexicans sneaking into the U.S. to take our jobs?

  22. More lies from the lying liar, Peter Suderman, at unReason. Trump is not a protectionist. He wants trade, but he wants a true level trading field, not the scam the federal mafia and Wall Street is giving us now that destroys jobs here and sends them over the border. Suderman is a lying fraud and he proves it every time he writes his lies about Trump. Suderman is no libertarian, he’s an elitist prick who who should lose his head along with the rest of the globalist traitors like Nick Gillespie.

    Suderman also knows that Trump has said the reason he doesn’t get into details is because he doesn’t know everything that he will have to do to make the changes he needs to make because he is not privy to the trade briefings at the White House. Trump also says that creating a detailed plan would remove his ability to be flexible in negotiations. If he said “we are going to do exactly such and such”, and then found that would not work and he had to do it different way, he wil be trashed by the LLSM (Lying Lame Stream Media, aka unReason, et al) for changing his plan. Suderman knows this but lies about it anyway because he knows the grubers on this site will lap it up like the lickspittles they are. Yeah, I’m talkin’ about YOU!

    1. Level for who? The consumer or the worker? I don’t want a level trading field. I want foreign governments to subsidize away so that I can get stuff for as cheap as possible.

      There’s such a thin line separating the Trumpkins from the Berners.

  23. Hmm. The only candidate who’s obviously good on trade, at least when it comes to overall thinking (but we don’t know how good when it comes to negotiating w either Congress or foreign countries), is Johnson. So we’re left to try to infer how the others would be. Apparently people deduce that Trump is protectionist because he talks in terms of the principles that a protectionist would. However, most candidates for federal office do to some degree or other.

  24. I’m in favor of free trade, but its a tough situation regarding China, especially in steel.

    They invest like crazy with state-owned banks lending to state-run steel plants. Then it collapses, and China looks to export its way out.

    So, while you want a market result, its also a bit brutal if you’re trying to compete with state-supported firms.

    Of course, they also laid off 500,000 steel workers in China.

    1. If China wants to blow a ton of money subsidizing steel that American companies buy for cheap, why is that a bad deal with the US?

      You act like the only industry that matters is the one making steel, not the ones USING it.

  25. Suderman ignores the possibility of a Trump regime change and its zero-based negotiations positively affecting global slave-labor conditions and thereby improving the working conditions and trading advantages of U.S. workers.

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