Free Trade

Josh Hawley Wants To Wreck America's Economy To Own the Libs

In a Senate floor speech Wednesday, Hawley outlined a half-baked plan to tear down global trade. It's aimed at winning elections, not helping America prosper.


It was touted as a speech outlining how America should reform the global economy and stand up to China, but Sen. Josh Hawley's (R-Mo.) remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday were directed at a decidedly domestic audience.

Hawley is a rising star among Republicans jockeying to be the heir apparent to President Donald Trump as the party's nationalist standard-bearer. The 40-year-old senator has seized on the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to advance the anti-China hawkishness that helped Trump win the White House in 2016. On Wednesday he outlined a Trump-like platform based on acting tough, blowing up international institutions, and building on economic illiteracy.

It was, in short, a speech meant to appeal to the Make America Great Again crowd rather than a serious attempt at charting a new direction for America.

"The international order as we have known it for 30 years is breaking," Hawley intoned with senatorial gravitas. Later, he rhetorically asked if Americans are "willing to witness the slow undoing of the free world."

But that's an odd way of framing the debate, considering Hawley wants completely undo the U.S.-led agreements that make free trade possible. Along with China, the current target of his crusade is the World Trade Organization (WTO), the most visible entity of the largely invisible global economic system that Hawley maligns. It is this system of freely exchanged goods across national borders that Hawley claims is responsible for flatlining Americans' wages and shipping American industries overseas.

He's wrong on the facts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation-adjusted median weekly earnings for American workers have increased by 17 percent since 1995, when the WTO was founded. Meanwhile, American manufacturing has never been more valuable than it is now, as the country's industrial production last year was 48 percent higher than in 1995, according to the Federal Reserve.

Just as importantly, Hawley's wrong on the economics. Withdrawing from the WTO would leave America cut off from the lower tariff rates that member nations grant to one another, effectively raising barriers to American exports and harming American manufacturing and farming. The global trade that's possible because of America's membership in the WTO boosts the U.S. economy by $2.1 trillion every year, according to an estimate from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a trade-focused think tank.

And he's wrong about the geopolitics, too. Contra Hawley's claims, the WTO did not simply materialize in the mid-1990s nor can it be easily replaced. It was the result of a decadeslong experiment in expanding the economic co-dependence of the world's largest economies. That experiment increased prosperity and reduce major wars across the planet.

Nationalism doesn't work without someone to nationalize against, and Hawley sees China as the foe in a new cold war. "The economy has become the principal arena for great power contests in this new century," he said Wednesday. "Economic policy is now security policy."

Before getting more pugilistic with China, Hawley might want to take a closer look at how the Trump administration's supposedly "good and easy to win" trade war has gone. Here's a hint: Not well.

Some of Hawley's complaints about the Chinese government are accurate. He's right, for example, to call out the Chinese Communist Party's awful human rights record and its ongoing abuse of religious minorities. He's right that merely giving China access to global trading networks has not resulted in speedy liberalization of China's politics or the collapse of the Communist Party. While Hawley may be partly correct about the problem, that does not justify his proposed course of action.

What he's proposing goes beyond anything even the anti-trade Trump administration has endorsed. In fact, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, one of Trump's top generals in his trade war against China, has called the WTO "a valuable institution" that helps advance America's interests. "If we did not have the WTO, we would have to invent it," Lighthizer told the Senate Finance Committee last year.

Hawley's hawkishness towards China and the WTO might be smart domestic politics in his bid to become the heir to Trump's place in the Republican Party, but it's based on a flawed understanding of economics. Not only that, but Hawley's trade proposals would be economically ruinous for the United States and clear the way for China to further exert itself as the largest economy within the WTO.

NEXT: Another State Supreme Court Stands Up for Economic Liberty

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  1. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why ostensibly libertarian writers are so friendly and conciliatory toward China.

    1. China is paying them off.

      I’m willing to bet any number of media people have “pr” or “media” contracts with Chinese companies that are thinly veiled government fronts.

    2. If you ignore every negative externality that China produces openly and with a loud applause from the left… they aren’t so bad.

    3. There’s a dogmatic belief that free trade will ultimately make everyone free, that as a despotic trading partner gets richer, its people will get richer and choose peace and freedom.

      You see this in the van Rijn novels by Poul Anderson

      However, it’s pretty obvious that’s as naïve as GWB’s idea that democracy will make the middle east more peaceful

      1. But it’s not even actual free trade that Boehm is defending here.
        It’s slimy corporatist regulations that lock the little players out of the market and game the system for big multinationals.

        No “Free Trade” agreement has ever actually promoted free trade.

      2. The NAFTA agreement was essentially updated and given a new name. The most widely touted “improvement” that Trump supporters mention, is that for autos and auto parts to be shipped from Mexico to the USA totally tariff-free, they must be made by workers earning at least $16 per hour. That is true. However, as the Mexican trade minister pointed out, the new agreement stipulates that for autos and auto parts shipped from Mexico to the USA or Canada made by workers earning less than $16 per hour, the maximum tariff that can be imposed shall not exceed the WTO limit of 2.5%.

        Canada and Mexico did not insist that the steel and aluminum tariffs that Trump imposed be eliminated as part of the new agreement. However, those countries are parties to the WTO action which will certainly rule that Trump’s “national defense” rationale for the steel and aluminum tariffs was preposterous. Thus, the WTO will impose huge financial penalties on the USA. Canada and Mexico are now content to allow those penalties to accumulate.

        The possible outcomes from Trump’s protectionist inclinations vary widely. Trump and some of his advisers such as Larry Kudlow assert that Trump is actually a free trade advocate who wants to eliminate all tariffs and trade restrictions. In that respect Trump could be thought of as less likely to destroy the world trading system than he truly committed protectionists like Peter Navarro, Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown (Democratic Senator from Ohio) who are prime examples of the “progressivism of fools” branch of protectionists. The only objective of tariffs supported by those protectionists is to transfer wealth to the employees and owners of favored domestic producers. That the costs and losses to the rest of Americans far exceeded the gains to the employees and owners of favored domestic producers is never a concern of the “progressivism of fools” branch…”

      3. Free trade and personal liberty are not synonymous, in fact, they’re frequently antagonistic goals. As the article admits:

        It was the result of a decadeslong experiment in expanding the economic co-dependence of the world’s largest economies. That experiment increased prosperity and reduce major wars across the planet.

        Free trade does not lead to personal liberty. It leads to dependance. And that’s by design.

    4. Jules Feiffer had a cartoon on that, what, 40 years ago? It’s not just ostensibly libertarian writers. China seems to be a charmer.

  2. I’ll take things that will never happen for 500.

  3. If we want to be enslaved to Trumpistas and other conservatards… All we need to do, is to let them define who is “slave labor”, and allow them to tell us that we may NOT trade with ANYONE who THEY determine to be “slave labor”!

    My fave uncle (who gives me kickbacks) manufactures “lung flutes”… So, ANYONE other than my uncle, in the lung-flute business, is “slave labor”, and so NO lung flutes for YOU, from ANYONE other than my uncle!!!

    KA-CHING for me, all the way to the bank!!!

    BWAH-ha-ha-ha-ha, you sucker-bastards!!!!!

    1. Settle down freak show.

      1. Says the one who wants to enslave us all by cornering the market on defining who is, and who is not, a slave!!!

        1. Calm down Old Mex.

          1. HAHAHA.

            Love it.

          2. Think ABC is his next tab. Hope he keeps them straight this time.

    2. Hi Old Mex.

    3. If labor is pennies elsewhere versus 10’s of dollars they are going to manufacture where it is pennies. Therefore free trade with what we call third world nations simply drags down wages for first world nations.
      We are funding communist China. The workers aren’t being propped up in the vast majority of circumstances.

  4. “Own the libs” at any costs!!!

    Unlike the rest of you poor slobs, I have a reliable crystal ball! So here goes…

    Late 2020: National debt = 120% of GNP. Donald Trump easily wins re-election by promising a large budget for a new Department of Disputing Elizabeth Warren’s Native American Ancestry, and for Making the Liberals Cry.

    2024: National debt = 130% of GNP. Elizabeth Warren is elected POTUS; She promised a large budget for a new Department for Making the GOP-tards Cry. Elon Musk’s projects are fabulously successful, and Americans are emigrating en masse to Mars. Given the choice of either continuing to pay hideously large fees to the USA IRS, or renouncing America citizenship, the Martians pay $15,000 each to renounce America citizenship, but even the millions of Martian-American exit fees are like micro-farts in a hurricane… They make no difference in the national debt!

    2028: National debt = 150% of GNP. New POTUS Bernie Sanders wins by promising free health care and PhD educations for everyone who can spell the word “free”, plus, a free pony for everyone under 15 years of age. Some USA states are getting ready to split off of the USA, and renounce their “fair” share of the USA debt. Hispanic illegal humans are scrambling for the exits back south, as most employable Americans seek black-market low-wage jobs to escape exorbitant taxes.

    2032: National debt = 230% of GNP. All states have split off of the USA, leaving behind only Washington, DC, with the entire national debt. DC promptly declares bankruptcy. All states with nuclear-weapons bases, having very well learned from Ukraine having given up its share of USSR nukes, and getting invaded by Russia later on, have kept their own nukes.

    2036: Montana and Wyoming unite, feeling a patriotic urge to restore the united USA towards its former fully Glory Days. In a quest for military glory, they have a full-scale nuclear exchange with California. The USA’s needs have now been met: Both the liberals AND the conservatives are forced to cry!

    1. Oh you’re super upset Old Mex.

    2. Old Mex can’t even keep what article he’s commenting on straight.

  5. You know who else was willing to wreck the economy in exchange for winning an election?

      1. Stop fucking your kids, SQRSLY.

        1. Www.

  6. >>speech meant to appeal to the Make America Great Again crowd rather than a serious attempt at charting a new direction for America.

    don’t care for Hawley, but can it not be both?

  7. Boehm yesterday:

    “But enforcement should be reserved for where it can actually work. An official order closing stadiums and the like seems reasonable.”

    Boehm has no problem with government directed economics.

  8. //It was, in short, a speech meant to appeal to the Make America Great Again crowd rather than a serious attempt at charting a new direction for America.//

    Boehm’s “new” direction is the present status quo where everyone pretends China is just an honest trading partner on the global stage with no international ambitions of its own and will be reined if we just keep freely and fairly trading while the CCP subsidizes domestic industries in order to squeeze everyone else out of the market. The fact that China is an aggressive communist fucking scourge that lies, cheats, and steals at every turn is apparently of no consequence.

    What is it about China that the Reason editors love so much?

    1. What is it about China that the Reason editors love so much?

      The clicks?

  9. “Josh Hawley Wants To Wreck America’s Economy To Own the Libs”

    You wrote this in future tense. Have you been off the grid for a while?

  10. Literally nothing in the body of the article, or Hawley’s statements, that has anything to do with “owning the libs.”

    What the fuck is wrong with Boehm?

    1. He only passed first semester econ. Then he found journalism.

      1. He strikes me as the kind of guy that was going to be an economics major, then found out he had to take advanced math classes and decided to do journalism instead.

    2. He’s a thuper thenthitive lib.

    3. Let us hope that leftist journalists don’t start misrepresenting and strawmanning all their opponents arguments. That might make for some dishonest public discourse in the future.

  11. The lefty scum: “It’s an absolute travesty how we don’t have the N95 masks and other critical supplies we need in America.”

    Me: “You know, you’re absolutely right. Let’s repatriate production back to America where it belongs, and in time we’ll have all the supplies of these things that we need.”

    The lefty scum: “What, and give the deplorables their jobs back?? We’d rather see them die first!!!”

    Go fuck yourself Boehm. Why don’t you move your sorry ass to Wuhan province and eat a cave bat.

    1. I crave a cave bat!

      Holy craven cravin’s for cave bats, Batman! NaNa-nana-nana-nana, nana, NaNa-nana-nana-nana, nana, BATMAN!?!

      What the heck kinda cave-bat be guano DOWN here, Batman?

      1. If you don’t stop fucking your kids, you’ll give them your syphilis.

  12. I’m confused, shouldn’t the libertarian position be that the W.T.O. is not a proper function of government and shouldn’t exist?

    1. Apparently, the libertarian stance is that the WTO is far better than Trump and his sycophantic cocksuckers and since those are clearly the only options, we need to quadruple the money we give the WTO and pray for Trump’s death.

    2. Trying to enforce fair trade is an illegitimate function of Government Almighty? Well then yes, the “Interstate Commerce Clause” of the USA Constitution should be REVOKED, so that we can all GET RICH QUICK by having trade wars between all 50 states! Good jobs for good residents of Oklahoma! Texas fuckheads, go fuck yourselves!!!

      Trade wars = prosperity, right? All 50 states for themselves! And city upon city too, why not?

      1. Your mother died in a trade war, and all I got was this stupid t-shirt.

      2. Yes. The function of government is to defend liberty. Liberty is freedom from the initiatory use of force. Trades in Libertopia are always fair. I either value the thing at the price you’re selling or I don’t buy it.

        1. You and your moral superiority “butt out” of my choices of who to buy from, and not buy from, and I will respect your “ditto” choices. Don’t get your Government Almighty guns involved in my choices. Is that too much to ask? It IS that simple!

          1. Peter robs Paul. Sqrsly buys from Peter. Sqrsly thinks this is free trade. Sqrsly eats shit.

            1. And JesseSPAZ is the moral superior of ALL of them, and will use Government Almighty and Trumptatorshit FORCE and COERCION, to decide for ALL of them! Disagree with JesseSPAZ?!?! Off to JAIL with y’all!!! Or heavy taxes (tariffs) at the VERY least! Do NOT pay your taxes at the docks? THEN off to jail with ye!

              Same for same, morally self-righteous bullies will be morally self-righteous bullies…

              1. We can all see the shit in your teeth, you shameless child molester.

                1. Do you recall the awesome enchanter named “Tim”, in “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail”? The one who could “summon fire without flint or tinder”? Well, you remind me of Tim… You are an enchanter who can summon persuasion without facts or logic!

                  So I discussed your awesome talents with some dear personal friends on the Reason staff… Accordingly…

                  Reason staff has asked me to convey the following message to you:

                  Hi Fantastically Talented Author:

                  Obviously, you are a silver-tongued orator, and you also know how to translate your spectacular talents to the written word! We at Reason have need for writers like you, who have near-magical persuasive powers, without having to write at great, tedious length, or resorting to boring facts and citations.

                  At Reason, we pay above-market-band salaries to permanent staff, or above-market-band per-word-based fees to freelancers, at your choice. To both permanent staff, and to free-lancers, we provide excellent health, dental, and vision benefits. We also provide FREE unlimited access to nubile young groupies, although we do firmly stipulate that persuasion, not coercion, MUST be applied when taking advantage of said nubile young groupies.

                  Please send your resume, and another sample of your writings, along with your salary or fee demands, to .

                  Thank You! -Reason Staff

                  1. Trumptards call it “fair trade” when the government has to butt in and approve every little transaction. They are brainwashed into believing only government knows what is best for you. Jesse is double brain-dipped in stupidity.

                    1. SQRLSY’s buttplug learned to speak and is now discovering th beauty of human emotion and, of course, faggotry.

                  2. Oh fuck, he’s bringing out his retarded “Tim/Author” copypasta.

                    It’s time someone showed him the “Life of Brian” or “Meaning of Life” so he can freshen his material.

              2. You really are dumb. China is already coercive. You have no deep understanding or theory of trade. You’re an idiot. Full stop. Lol. You cant even counter my simplification of your belief system.

                1. “China is already coercive.”

                  JesseSPAZ is coercive, according to SQRLSY One! SQRLSY One therefor uses Government Almighty FORCE to declare that NO ONE may trade with JesseSPAZ, without being taxed out the ASS!!! All made fair and square by a simple declaration by SQRLSY One that JesseSPAZ is coercive! JesseSPAZ and all who would like to trade with JesseSPAZ, made into slaves, by SQRLSY One declaring JesseSPAZ to be “into” slavery and assorted kinkiness, according to THE Grand Pooh-Bah, who is venerated as… The Great SQRLSY One!!!!

                  Sounds fair to me!!!!

                2. Trumptards call it “fair trade” when the government has to butt in and approve every little transaction. They are brainwashed into believing only government knows what is best for you. Jesse is double brain-dipped in stupidity

                  (for you in case you couldn’t find the post above)

                  1. SQRLSY shares his buttplug with his kids. Free trade.

                  2. Fuck off Buttplug, you child-raping degenerate.

  13. Hawley sees China as the foe in a new cold war.

    Well, he’s not wrong…

    1. If you’re not down with Tiananmen square, it is because you’re just trying to “own the libs.”

      1. What was wrong with Tiananmen Square? The government lawfully took necessary steps to carry out their duties in the face of a few dissident clingers and deplorables. It’s not the fault of the state’s agents that they didn’t recognize what was in their own best interests.

        1. What was wrong with Tiananmen Square?

          According to the news sources that American Socialist uses, it never happened.

  14. “Hawley is a rising star” in no one’s mind but his own. If the media treated him the same way they treated Dennis Kucinich, we’d pretty much never hear about his bloviating.

    Both parties have their share of quacks. If you people would ignore them, maybe they would go away.

    1. He’s the Republican version of AOC.

  15. Trumptards have been brainwashed by the likes of Steve Bannon that free-trade, non nuclear proliferation treaties, and pollution limits are some type of evil globalism led by the Pope/Anti-Christ and The Apocalypse is imminent because of liberal secularists.

    1. So glad to see you survived another day in Georgia, Mr. Buttplug. As an elderly male you’re in a high risk demographic for the #TrumpVirus. And I read in WaPo that your state leads the race to become America’s No. 1 Death Destination.

      You must be angrier than ever about the governorship being stolen from Stacey Abrams.

      1. I’m white so I am not likely to get the Trump virus. He is targeting “the blacks” and Latinos with it.

        1. Indeed, at least you benefit from what I learned in college is called “medical racism.” That’s when privileged white bodies have generally better health outcomes than black and brown bodies, due entirely to WHITE SUPREMACY.

          1. Guns, Germs and Steel, bro.

            1. Jared Diamond got the neolithic transition wrong, didn’t account for the Yamnaya and their demographic impact, and neglected the agency of Native American peoples making them pawns of fate.

    2. //liberal secularists//

      That’s a contradiction in terms. Liberals love faith based thinking. They do little else.

      1. It’s the right that is faith based in everything they do. See Dubya and his ilk. Whether they are Christ-Nuts or sons of Mohammed conservatives. Conservatives like the old ways and “tradition” as stupid as that is.

        1. How Buttplug Designed His Own Atheistic Personal Philosophy & How You Can Too

          1. Start with the assumption of no God
          2. However, also start with Christian morality
          3. Remove the bits you personally don’t like
          4. Proclaim that it’s self-evident

      2. You ought to read some Hayek to learn something about liberalism. I recommend ‘Why I am not a Conservative” in particular. You will drop the GOP like a bad rash.

        1. SQRLSY’S buttplug is in the middle of another bender and some ruinous folks have given it a soapbox.

          1. He was endorsed by sarcasmic.
            Really inflated that ego

        2. “You ought to read some Hayek”

          As if you ever read Hayek…
          I am however perfectly willing to believe that you’ve at least read the Cliff’s Notes for Marcuse, Adorno, Foucault and Derrida.
          Your opinions reek of them.

  16. Don’t quit the WTO, kick the Red Chinese out!

  17. Holy shit, is nobody here going to point out that we’re talking about somebody named Hawley talking up the benefits of protectionist trade policies? Haven’t we been down this road once before? Has nobody heard of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act and what it did for the Great Depression?

    And what the fuck is with all the retards here cheering for more government interference in economic affairs? Jesus, Bernie’s dropped out of the race, give it up.

    1. Well done.

      1. SQRLSY and Jerryskids share the same buttplug. Free trade.

      2. He was talking about you.

  18. All the charisma of Joe McCarthy.

  19. Free trade does not exist. Libertarians cannot will it into existence, so they flood the comment boards with wishful thinking, and the gargling of CCP sack.

  20. Josh Hawley Wants To Wreck America’s Economy
    Seems like covid hysterics like Eric have already done that. The difference is that Hawley, for better or for worse, actually believes his policy prescriptions will benefit the economy. Eric and his friends didn’t give a shit when the mini virus was used to destroy millions of businesses and jobs and as yet untold wealth. Instead we were subjected to daily lectures about Trump’s failure to provide a lifetime supply of face masks to every living being on the planet.

  21. Nothing like advocating for the destruction of small business then whining that the transnationals don’t get their subsidized China manufacturing

  22. Everyone needs to realize by now this.
    Buying t-shirts, some plastic stuff cheap from china -> was a good thing, you were able to control cost in your household, and the manufacturer as well

    Look what brought us now.

    If you don’t understand this now, I have to say you are agent of china.

    1. This isn’t the problem. The problem is at the other end.

      In order to compete with 3rd world enslaved labor, you might have to show up to work at the meat packing plant despite the fact that there’s an exceedingly slim chance you might die of COVID. You can’t pay for STEM degrees hand-crafted by the finest-credentialed feminist diversity studies majors and still compete with the 10 Chinese engineers who’ve each had integration tables and matrix operations beaten into them from the time they were 7.

      I don’t mean to say that China is unbeatable. I’m just saying that it’s hard to win the race when your focused on elucidating your own genitalia.

  23. I’ll never understand how any self-respecting libertarian can claim that raising tariffs (a tax) can increase economic prosperity.

    1. Libertarians for taxing ourselves into prosperity!

  24. “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation-adjusted median weekly earnings for American workers have increased by 17 percent since 1995, when the WTO was founded.”

    So correlation does sometimes imply causation, if the writer has a point to make.

  25. Boehm once again displays he is a complete birdbrain.

  26. Quick note to the right-wingers here: libertarians like free trade.

  27. I’m happy I located this blog! From time to time, students want to cognitive the keys of productive literary essays composing. Your first-class knowledge about this good post can become a proper basis for such people. nice one0

  28. The author could have just stopped at “Josh Hawley’s wrong.” and conserved precious electrons explaining his vapidness…

  29. It is unreal we do so much business with China. We might as well just directly sell them aircraft carriers, fighter jets, and missles instead of just funding it.

    Furthermore Hawley references the destruction of the free world. Unless you live in the wilderness of Alaska or maybe the Appalachians you ain’t free. You do what the man says you do whether you are in China or America. You want to argue the man in America lets you do more than China, fine. But don’t pretend we are free.

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