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Free Minds & Free Markets

Trump’s Lousy Record on Trade

Trump's ideal of "economic independence" is the exact opposite of what economists recommend.

The Trump administration has a new agenda: bringing about a new world of free, robust, and unfettered trade. After his July meeting with the head of the European Union, the president was pleased to announce, "We agreed today, first of all, to work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods."

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that Trump "wants to have no tariffs" because "he's a free trader." Yes, he is. And I'm Reese Witherspoon.

Trump is as far as you can get from a free trader. We know that from a Denali-sized mountain of evidence provided by Trump over his time in politics and business.

He hates NAFTA—"the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere." He has a pathological aversion to trade deficits, which he blames for destroying jobs and hobbling growth. During the campaign, he proclaimed, "It's time to declare our economic independence once again."

Remember what NAFTA stands for? North American Free Trade Agreement. The 1994 accord eliminated virtually all tariffs between the United States, Mexico, and Canada—tariffs that were higher for U.S. goods going into Mexico than for Mexican goods coming here.

It also got rid of an array of other barriers, including import licenses and local content rules. Between 1993 and 2014, U.S. exports of goods and services to Mexico rose fivefold, and those to Canada tripled. NAFTA largely achieved its purpose: turning North America into a giant free trade zone.

Trump thinks it's a rotten deal because some American companies moved production out of the U.S. and some American workers lost their jobs. But that's how healthy markets work.

Trade deficits are part of any free trade regime worthy of the name. Some countries will import more than they export, and some won't. Assuming that the U.S. would run a trade surplus under authentic free trade is like believing that if the NFL rules were fairly enforced, your team would win the Super Bowl every year.

In a free trade environment, outcomes are not predetermined to suit particular companies, workers, or politicians. They are decided by consumers and producers pursuing their own interests. That's why it's called "free."

Trump's ideal of "economic independence" is the exact opposite of what economists recommend. Open commerce makes every nation dependent on other nations, buying and selling for mutual advantage.

As the father of economics, Adam Smith, noted in 1776, it makes no more sense for a nation to produce everything it needs than for a family to produce everything it needs. A nation that achieved "independence" by abstaining from trade with other countries would doom itself to poverty.

There is no evidence that Trump understands any of this. He imagines that only unfair deals and foreign cheating can account for trade deficits and the migration of some jobs abroad.

He made clear his view of trade at a July rally in Granite City, Illinois, asserting, "We lost $817 billion a year over the last number of years in trade. In other words, if we didn't trade, we'd save a hell of a lot of money."

True. And I'd save a lot of money if I stopped eating. The president doesn't grasp that Americans and foreigners engage in international commerce for one simple reason: It leaves them better off.

Trump has shunned the pursuit of freer trade whenever the opportunity has arisen. He pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have obliterated 98 percent of the tariffs in place among the 12 signatories. Candidate Trump called this vast free trade deal "a rape of our country" that would "increase our trade deficits and send even more jobs overseas."

Trump also spurned the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the EU, which was still being hammered out when he took office. Negotiators had already agreed to remove 97 percent of the existing tariffs and attack "unnecessarily burdensome requirements and delays at our borders."

Should Trump decide to resume those talks, he's not likely to improve on what was already done—and he doesn't really want to. What he wants is to protect favored U.S. industries while getting other countries to buy more from us.

In his world, the only good trade system is one in which we win and other countries lose. The truth that he has never been able to see is simple: Free trade enriches every country, and blocking it makes losers of us all.

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  • JoeBlow123||

    Sunday: I know Steve Chapman is due for another blathering, recycled, tired anti-Trump article.

    I check Reason.

    I am not disappointed. It looks like something I could write with minimal effort in about an hour because it is pretty much entirely devoid of any original thought.

  • sarcasmic||

    He writes for the Chicago Tribune, not the libertarian echo chamber. So this could be a brand new concept to some of the paper's audience. People who don't understand libertarianism or basic economics need to be spoon-fed at first. And that is what this article does.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Chapman is bad at economics and lies like most media outlets.

    He's perfect for the Chicago Tribune!

    Chapman: Another non-Libertarian sabotaging Libertarian positions.

  • sarcasmic||

    He farts more economics than you will ever know.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    When he farts, you come out evidently. It took two farts, since you were up there so far.

  • Shirley Knott||

    When do you expect your head to emerge?

  • Iheartskeet||

    L1789 your comments on this and other trade topics make you look like you are reading from a script written by imbeciles.

    Your outright rejection of economic literacy would be bad enough, but this moronic name-calling, ridiculous assertions that Free Trade isn't a Libertarian position, and summary dismissal of anyone advocating Free trade as somehow anti-American, amount to a sloppiness of thought that I think would be beyond belief if it weren't for the Hihns and Tonys that post here.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Skeet, if thats what you're getting out of his comments then you should really re examine your reading comprehension skills. Or maybe you just have no grasp of economics yourself.

  • Iheartskeet||

    LOS, nope.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    "LOL", yep.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Sarc, you're defending Chapman. That makes you look like a bigger drag asshole than you already do.

    Pathetic. Don't defend Chapman.

  • sarcasmic||

    If he's right he's right.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Sure. If he ever is. But today he is not.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Good for him. He writes what Lefties think Libertarianism is.

    If only we could find out which Libertarians are running in election 2018 and how Democrats and Republicans stand up to Libertarian ideals going into election 2018.

    Instead we get TDS from Chapman. TDS from Shikha. TDS from Gillespie. TDS from Boehm. Its just boring.

  • sarcasmic||

    Thoughtful readers will check my link and decide for themselves

    Well that rules lc1789 out. But we already knew that.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Chapman is still a lefty idiot. I don't give a shit who he writes for. So many bad articles written from a leftist slant.

  • sarcasmic||

    Most of his stuff isn't that great. But this one is spot on.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Except, it isn't. You're just patholily obsessed with hating Trump.

  • sarcasmic||

    K, can you tell me why it isn't?

    I mean based upon the content of the article.

    Something other than "Chapman is a lefty" or "You hate Trump."

  • Flinch||

    Meh. Can't have cupcakes for breakfast every day. Sometimes a sharpening of focus does involve an inventory of old things. Trumps penchant to manage trade is a weak spot to me, and it seems to come from a limited perspective of the industrial revolution: the nation that exports more is the richer. I think that misses the mark, as my preferred measure of wealth is the ease with which goods and services can be purchased - the number in the bank is never more important than the percentages. The industrial revolution made things easier to get ahold of, and at much lower prices - US exports were a bonus. To that end, we should pursue things that lower the cost of living. Tariffs don't do that, so things do bear watching. Are we getting into weak policy to get away from something horrid [as Trump suggests]? I'm not sure at this point, but skating near the edge of Hoover like tariff monstrosities gets my attention. Trade wars are the closest thing to a level playing field there is in politics: there's more of them than us.

  • SQRLSY One||

    "To Trump, only pussies believe in a free market ... nothing happens unless both party's gain. Economics 101"

    Hogwash! Trump doesn't even (truly, honestly, not-lying) understand that there are such things as as games that are NOT zero-sum, where the game has both sides winning! He just doesn't "grok" that!

    To The Donald, it is ALL zero-sum game! If the other side isn't losing, he can NOT EVEN POSSIBLY be "winning"! It is ALL about winning, AND making the other side lose!

    That's why The Donald is thinking of dropping Mike Pence as VEEP candidate for go-round number two, and putting Charlie Sheen in there, instead! ... ... "Winning"!!!!

    Go Steve Chapman go! Excellent, true, and accurate article!!!!

  • Shirley Knott||

    Cue the regular apologists for government meddling with markets in 3, 2, ...

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I can tolerate it for short periods if it's for the express purpose of coercing third parties into LESS meddling.

  • Iheartskeet||

    "I can tolerate taxing our own citizens a lot and forever if its for the express purpose of coercing other countries into taxing their citizens less"

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Yeah, you are a dummy...........

    Please limit your gibbering as much as possible.

  • Iheartskeet||

    I think I struck a nerve. Good. Keep letting the idiocy of your argument sink in as you flail about calling people dummies.

  • Shirley Knott||

    "Economic independence" is surely one of the most destructive oxymorons out there.
    True 'economic independence' is solitary subsistence hunting/gathering, i.e., no economy at all.
    All economic activity is inter-dependence.
    Voluntary transactions are win-win or they wouldn't happen. Regardless of the disapproving glares of the prod-noses who are certain that 'things' would be 'better' if only they were allowed to meddle.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Economic denialists secretly think that us (or pick a state) Iowans should tax our coming-into-Iowa goods and services, because "winning" for Iowans, and "good jobs for good Iowans". The founding fathers adding the interstate commerce clause, in order to eliminate such inter-state trade barriers, was one giant moronic mistake!

  • sarcasmic||

    You don't understand. Comparative advantage is bunk. Consumers should buy from the most expensive source possible. Progressives concur because Labor Theory of Value, and conservatives concur because America First.
    When consumers buy goods from foreigners who produce them more cheaply, we're made poorer because we don't have jobs making those goods ourselves. So what if that labor could be used for something we can do more efficiently? That is unseen. What is seen is all those jobs created by protectionist tariffs. Only losers account for the unseen. True libertarians only see the seen.

    Duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!111!!!1eleventy11!!

  • Shirley Knott||

    You've captured the heart of most of the nonsense along too often trotted out in these threads.
    Season it with a little 'war' and a dose of illicit aggregation ('us', 'we', etc.) and you've got it.

  • sarcasmic||

    And Commies. I forgot the Commies.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Oh you forget the best part:

    When you buy from a foreigner, that makes you an economic traitor. John Kerry, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump all agree!

  • Shirley Knott||

    It's amazing the impact a line on a map can have.
    If I trade with my neighbor, that's cool.
    If I trade with someone in the next state, that's almost cool.
    But if I dare trade with someone in the next country over, I'm suddenly a traitor. Even if that someone is my nearest neighbor.
    "Economic independence" is an oxymoron standing in for a race to the bottom.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Say WHAT Kemosabe ?

    First, its pretty uncharitable to refer to those against double taxation as "magpies". Its a perfectly sound economic and policy argument to make. Politically impossible, but its perfectly reasonable.

    Second, you appear to be arguing for more accelerated tax deductions for capital investment. Well, *cough* if we eliminated double taxation be ditching the corporate income tax, we'd have ZERO taxes on capital investment. Which would seem to be as good or better than simply accelerating the tax depreciation schedule.

    Third, IIRC most production equipment outside of refineries and electric utilities can be depreciated far faster than 18 years...I believe 7 years, not counting section 179, with is all in year 1.

  • Iheartskeet||

    On the magpie comment, I read it correctly, but if by some other reading you weren't dissing those against corporate double-taxation, all good.

    On taxes, I should have said "maximum deduction" but it amounts to semantics. In the absence of corporate income taxes, the depreciation schedule is irrelevant, and certainly an improvement on shortening to one year or whatever you might be proposing.

    I have not seen proposals for eliminating the double taxation that do so by removing the tax on dividends, but maybe they are out there. That doesn't look like a good way to do it at all. Its a 100% absolute sure thing that eliminating corporate income taxes would affect corporate cash flows.

    My final point stands that the tax writoff schedule for equipment is nothing like 18 years.

  • Iheartskeet||

    When I said "proposals" I meant policy proposal, not actual legislative proposals. As I note above, these are political poison. Its no surprise to me none have been legislatively proposed.

    And all that I've read "propose" (or whatever term you'd like) eliminating the corporate income tax. When you say "its the only one" that is flatly not true. One can google Milton Friedman or any number of others on this going back a ways.

    Lastly, useful lives aren't the issue. Your original post said the Tax writeoff life was 18 years. Its isn't, with some exeptions I noted.

  • Iheartskeet||

    A garbled mess of incoherent horseshit and outright errors.

    "Useful Life" in common accounting usage is just the expected economic life of the asset. Its what companies use for GAAP. It is not the TAX writeoff/depreciation period, which your dumb fucking original post is about.

    You keep going on about Reagan's accelerated depreciation, WHICH IS NOT THE POINT. The point is your original contention that equipment is written off for taxes over 18 years, which you've not supported and is not true. Its fine to argue we should shorten it, its fine to argue that it should be as short as it was during the Reagan era, but its NOT correct to say that its now 18 motherfucking years which it motherfucking isn't.

    Why can't you just admit you were in error ? Instead you make everything a personal attack with snide remarks, even when people start off courteous to you. No wonder everyone here hates you goddamn guts.

  • Iheartskeet||

    LOL, well the concept has a far better pedigree that NAMETHATSHALLNOTBESPOKEN.

  • Iheartskeet||

    So, you link to Michael Hihn and...thats some kind of what ? Justification ?

    Tax cuts don't have to be "paid for". But its an open question whether eliminating corp income tax would result in more or less revenue for the federal government.

    This says "more".

    https://taxfoundation.org/ new-study-ponders- elimination-corporate-income-tax/

    If you think accelerating tax depreciation would boost the economy, the eliminating the corp income tax puts it on steroids.

    I'm convinced now. You don't know what you talking about AND your an asshole.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Most of the stylistic flourishes are there. ALL of the moronic attitude is there.

    Its official, David Nolan=Michael Hihn.

  • Iheartskeet||

    If my math is correct (check me on this) both 7 and 8 are less than 18. I mean, I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure about it.

  • Iheartskeet||

    You claim it takes an average of 18 years to write off manufacturing equipment in the US for tax purposes. I'm telling you the current tax code (MACRS) that its more on the order of 7 years or less. If you have a cite, provide. If I'm wrong I'll own it. But since you believe the main supporter for eliminating corporate double taxation is Michael Hihn, rather than a Nobel Prize winner and a dozen or more economics writers, my guess is you don't know what you are talking about.

    Looking back on my posts, I think I've been fairly polite, if sarcastic. Now you've taken a simple disagreement about facts and made a personal insult out of it. So, even if you are correct, one thing I am 100% certain of now is that you are an asshole.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Lines on maps meaning something to people surprises you? May I ask if you have ever watched a movie or read a history book?

    Libertarianism sure attracts a lot of weirdo autists.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    "Economic independence" is surely one of the most destructive oxymorons out there.

    I don't know, seems to be working out great for N. Korea. /sarc

  • Shirley Knott||

    In the race to the bottom, whoever achieves 'nasty, brutish, and short' wins!

  • Iheartskeet||

    ^This.

    It has the whiff of a certain Juche-like cult, which is shocking to see passionately argued here.

  • I can't even||

    "But as Steve Chapman observes..."

    Nope

  • Kristian H.||

    I get the econ analysis that free trade is mathematically the best strategy.

    I also understand that human's believe in altruistic vengeance (this is going to hurt me as much if not more than you). and when you start reciprocating, we will stop.

    There are times that dying on Hamburger Hill is necessary, there are time that a strategic redeployment is necessary. Free Trade with the Chinese may not be the hill you want to die on (particularly if you want to win elections / be appointed to influential posts).

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    He pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have obliterated 98 percent of the tariffs in place among the 12 signatories.

    But Trump retards claim the TPP was just MANAGED TRADE.

  • SQRLSY One||

    It wasn't perfect, so it's not good enough for me, as a Perfect Person, or for us as a nation, the Perfect USA, is what they're saying. So, not only is the perfect the enemy of the good, the 100% perfect is the enemy of the 98% perfect!

  • Shirley Knott||

    He was right.
    But the only trade we can 'manage' is our own. Drop all tariffs and trade restrictions unilaterally.
    There is no valid or sound reason not to.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    So Obama was the real free trader and Trump is the con man.

    Chapman is correct.

  • Shirley Knott||

    We haven't had a free trader as president in my lifetime.
    Obama was better on trade than Trump, but was otherwise execrable.
    Trump has been disastrous on trade, but has done some good stuff.
    But overall the difference between presidents is measured in angstroms.

  • Oli||

    But doing so would make other leaders think Trump has a tiny pee-wee. And Trump must ensure everyone thinks he has the yugest pee-wee in the world!

  • sarcasmic||

    It's a dichotomy. Either trade war or free trade. Any tariffs at all mean there is a trade war. Only the complete absence of all tariffs is free trade. Either or. No degrees. No in between. Free trade or war. That's it.

    Duhhhhhhh!!!11!!1111111!!!!

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    To be fair, Trump had help sabotaging US free trade - by Dimwits Bernie Sanders and Liz Warren who both opposed the TPP for other stupid reasons.

  • sarcasmic||

    Your comment is an insult to dimwits.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yeah man, amen to all you said!

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    You consider the Iran deal to be a good one?

    If so, you are not a rational person.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Sacha Baron Cohen Gets Joe Arpaio to Accept 'Amazing Blow Job' From Trump

    Former sheriff Joe Arpaio also told Baron Cohen it 'wouldn't surprise' him if the president has had a 'golden shower.'

    https://goo.gl/CVi35p

  • Juice||

    In that picture he looks like Fred Armisen.

  • Jerryskids||

    "We lost $817 billion a year over the last number of years in trade. In other words, if we didn't trade, we'd save a hell of a lot of money."

    The important part here isn't that he's an economic illiterate who doesn't realize the $817 billion wasn't "lost", it was traded for things worth more than $817 billion - if I trade a dollar for a coke, I haven't lost a dollar, I've gained a coke, a coke which I think is worth more than a dollar or I wouldn't have traded.

    The important thing is that he thinks "we" lost the $817 billion. What do you mean "we"? Walmart didn't lose billions buying stuff from China, Walmart eagerly gave them the money. It's not "our" money, it's Walmart's. But if they're giving it to our enemies, is Walmart stupid? Or just unpatriotic, un-American, maybe even treasonous? Maybe some extra taxes might get Walmart's mind straight about whose money that is?

    Trump seems quite certain that the government (at least the government under his leadership) is right to step in and regulate commerce and industry to our mutual benefit as they (he) can do a far better job with central planning and control than leaving it to individuals acting in their own disparate interests. He's a collectivist, he thinks China is a far better economic model than our own, he wants that sort of regime. He's seen the future, and it works.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    TRUMP DE NEGOSHIATING!!!

  • Shirley Knott||

    Mr. Skids has it quite right.
    There is no meaningful 'we' or 'our' or 'us'. This is not a war.
    But capturing the language facilitates the preferred narrative, and here we have a right-wing populist echoing, indeed, gleefully adopting, the language of Sanders and Warren and the rest of the left.
    Sad.

  • sarcasmic||

    Additionally, that $817 billion ends up coming back to the States in the form of capital investment. That's when foreigners produce stuff here. Like when Subaru opens a factory in Illinois. This creates wealth and jobs.

    Of course America Firsters will see this as a bad thing, because Americans aren't the owners. They'd rather not have the factories, goods, and jobs, than have the means of production be owned by foreigners.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Wait, I just assumed the foreigners were eating all of our dollar bills? You mean they have to spend them to get value out of them?

  • sarcasmic||

    Sorry, I was wrong actually. I forgot that money is wealth, and stuff is just stuff. That's why a trade deficit is such a bad thing. They get money, as in true wealth, while all we get is stuff. The way a country gets wealthy is by exporting more stuff and importing more money. With all that money we're rich! Stuff makes us poor, because we have to part with money in order to obtain it.

    Duh.

  • Jerryskids||

    It's odd that Trump of all people would look at trading pieces of paper for tangible goods is a losing proposition, though. Anybody who's dug into his own finances realizes he's not worth anywhere near what he claims to be worth, he gets his idea of what he's worth simply by adding up the value of all his assets and ignoring his liabilities. And why not? He has a building worth a billion dollars, that's a real thing. If the building comes with a piece of paper saying he owes the bank $950 million on the building, well, that's just his promise to pay and he knows his promise isn't worth a dime. He's got a building worth a billion dollars, the bank ain't got shit. So why doesn't Trump talk about international trade the same way? We got $817 billion worth of goods, we didn't give our trading partners a damn thing. Because he's not the one making the deal and if he were, he would? I'll bet he would.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Well, as comments go, that was a stinking pile of diarrhea. We get it, you hate Trump, so you just make up whatever you want, or glom on to any negative rumor or story.

  • Flinch||

    No way Trump is a free trader - the AFL/CIO recent endorsement should tip us off. "Fair" trade implies active management, not hands off. Is he going full Hoover on us? I sure hope not. I think he has limits, but we aren't seeing all his cards yet, as his tariff scheme has not seen the backend yet: re-negotiating trade deals. His early signs to the EU are encouraging and do indicate he has an exit strategy, but people don't believe most things til they see it with their own two eyes.

  • SQRLSY One||

    So we were "on track" to get rid of 97% of USA-Europe trade barriers, and 98% of Trans-Pacific trade barriers (with the TPP), as Steve Chapman says. But that's NOT good enough for The Donald; we MUST have a trade war to put our "enemies" in their places, so that we can "win"!

    I am told that evil is like an insatiable thirst… Whatever I can get, is NEVER good enough! Der TrumfenFuhrer will never be sated, not even when foreign states are our vassals, their territories our Lebensraum, and their citizens are our untermenschen-slaves.

    Der TrumfenFuhrer's insatiability (and that of His Minions as well) are also evident at our border policies. Illegal humans are tax slaves even more so than most of us USA citizens are… They pay into Social Security, but cannot benefit! See "The Truth About Undocumented Immigrants and Taxes" (in quotes) in your Google search window will take you straight there, hit number one... AKA http://www.theatlantic.com/bus.....es/499604/

    So we're partways down the road already, of turning our illegal humans into untermenschen-slaves, and Der TrumfenFuhrer wants to demonize them some more! WHAT will it take to slate The Donald's thirst?!?

  • SQRLSY One||

    WHAT will it take to SLAKE The Donald's thirst?!?

    Excuse my duh... I hope my middle-school Engraisch teacher wasn't reading my scribblings!!!!

  • SQRLSY One||

    Wow, it looks like a wrap for the pro-free-traders today! LC1789 hasn't shown up, John hasn't shown up, it's looking like the debate match has been won by the right (correct) people today!!!

    HOORAY for economic freedom!!!!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Same boring anti-free trade nonsense.

    We've blasted your horrible arguments on loving managed trade for months now, so its funny how you try and lure more web traffic.

  • sarcasmic||

    The only thing you've blasted are a bunch of straw men.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    So your real name is Straw Men?

    Nice to meet you Straw Men.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    LC< they're a bunch of idiots actually slavishly praising Chapman.

    Just fucking sad.

  • sarcasmic||

    Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Chapman's clock has the arms broken off of it to allow for that.

    You're on the same side as Chapman, which is a bad place to be.

  • sarcasmic||

    When Tony is right I will give him credit. Only a fool will immediately say someone is wrong without even considering what they say. Even worse are people like you who will reflexively disagree with someone simply because you don't like them, even when they are right.

  • SQRLSY One||

    So we were "on track" to get rid of 97% of USA-Europe trade barriers, and 98% of Trans-Pacific trade barriers (with the TPP), as Steve Chapman says.

    How perfect is perfect enough for you, so that you would NOT prefer a trade war instead?

  • sarcasmic||

    Look. Any tariffs at all means there is a trade war going on. Lowering tariffs is even worse than raising them. By raising tariffs, Trump has brought us closer to free trade. Don't you understand anything? Jesus.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Now do Artie.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Remember what NAFTA stands for? North American Free Trade Agreement. The 1994 accord eliminated virtually all tariffs between the United States, Mexico, and Canada—tariffs that were higher for U.S. goods going into Mexico than for Mexican goods coming here.

    Oh Chapman, you're not fooling anyone. NAFTA is NOT free trade. Tariffs are NOT the only trade restrictions.

    Trump has advocated free trade which is more than Bill Clinton (who signed NAFTA), Hillary, Booosh, and Obama ever could pull off.

    BTW: when you brag about NAFTA "eliminated virtually all tariffs between the United States, Mexico, and Canada" and then in the next sentence mentioned how tariffs to Mexico were higher than Mexican imports, you just look stupid.

  • sarcasmic||

    BTW: when you brag about NAFTA "eliminated virtually all tariffs between the United States, Mexico, and Canada" and then in the next sentence mentioned how tariffs to Mexico were higher than Mexican imports, you just look stupid.

    You're so right. I mean, lower tariffs aren't how you get closer to free trade. The mere existence of any tariffs means there is a hostile trade war going on. So when Trump raised tariffs, he actually brought us closer to free trade. Lowering tariffs is how you start a trade war. Raising tariffs is how you get free trade. You're so smart.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It is! Its a war after all and America should try and win. The EU cracked and China will too.

    After all, Trump offered free trade but our trading partners refused.

    Time to pressure them for 12 months while the US economy goes up and up and up.

  • Shirley Knott||

    It is most emphatically not a war.
    How does punishing Americans hurt the so-called enemy?
    One does not cure child abuse by one's neighbors through abuse of one's own children as a ploy to make them stop.

    Your ignorance of economics is palpable. You can't even muster up evidence in support of your preference for economic meddling over freedom.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    How do we get to free trade? Yeah, so no concrete plan from you. Your ignorance of economics is palpable. You can't even muster up evidence in support of your preference for economic meddling over freedom.

    Trump would like to negotiate free trade with our trading partners. Their first counter offer was to refuse. Trump countered with making it harder for them to access the best market in the World- the USA. The EU counter offered again in less than 5 weeks to talk more. The Chinese are scrambling to fix their economy starting to free fall. The USA has been getting stronger and stronger and stronger.

  • Shirley Knott||

    We get free trade by unilaterally dropping all tariffs and trade restrictions.
    Free trade requires no negotiation.
    You have no evidence that 'trade wars' work as you say they do.
    I and others have presented evidence that unilateral free trade is always a win.
    Bilateral free trade would be great, but we aren't in charge. Self harm is self harm. It does not motivate others to stop their self-harm.
    Raising our barriers to trade do not result, in general, in others lowering theirs.
    Meanwhile, the costs, the economic disruptions proceed.
    Who will total up the costs and benefits at 'the end' and declare a winner?
    There is no winner.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Shirley, he's right, you're wrong. Case closed.

  • sarcasmic||

    How do we get to free trade?

    By dropping tariffs and allowing American consumers to buy stuff from those who can produce it for the lowest price. This way 300 million people are better off because they can buy more stuff with their money. That is how nations gain wealth. It means that people have more money to spend on other things, and it frees domestic resources to me used for things where we have the comparative advantage. It is completely independent of what other countries do.

    This is what Adam Smith wrote in Wealth of Nations.

    You want to take economics back to before 1776.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Or we can leverage them into lowering their trade restrictions and get closer to REAL free trade. Not the stupid one sided shit you advocate for.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    China needs us far more than we need them. They also have their own internal debt problems.

  • Nardz||

    The dogmatism of libertarians is frightening

  • sarcasmic||

    The willful ignorance of protectionists is frightening.

  • Nardz||

    "Muh status quo!"

    Everything you say is reactionary. If you want status quo ante Trump, defend it on it's merits. Argue why those preexisting trade agreements and their stipulations are better than attempts to negotiate new agreements.
    Bitching about every action Trump takes, or that's written about, juxtaposed to an abstract that didn't and doesn't currently exist is merely masturbation.
    Pure free trade is your strawman.
    And if you'd prefer freer trade to status quo ante Trump, tell us why this is the wrong way to get there and offer an alternative. At least Shirley proposes unilateral disarmament. While I don't think that has or will lead to a net positive outcome, at least it's a position - which is better than some hobo jacking off on the subway yelling "Bastiat!", "Adam Smith!" intermittently.
    You want status quo ante Trump or do you want freer Trade? What are you willing to get to the latter if the former isn't ideal?

  • SQRLSY One||

    So we were "on track" to get rid of 97% of USA-Europe trade barriers, and 98% of Trans-Pacific trade barriers (with the TPP), as Steve Chapman says.

    How perfect is perfect enough for you, so that you would NOT prefer a trade war instead?

    Pre-Trump was one HELL of a lot better than the post-Trump world we are now entering!!! All the other nations will bypass us and have MOSTLY free trade, amongst themselves, while we will join North Korea as NON-free traders, and, under Trump, will act like the spoiled brat who takes his baseball bat home, and won't play with the rest!

  • Nardz||

    The TPP was going to grant foreign companies the right to override US IP law and hold American companies accountable to foreign courts for domestic practices.
    Tariff reduction in exchange for sovereignty.
    No thanks

  • sarcasmic||

    "Muh status quo!"

    I never said that.

    If you want status quo ante Trump, defend it on it's merits.

    I won't defend something I never advocated for. I want the US to get rid of all tariffs and allow consumers to buy from the cheapest seller.

    Pure free trade is your strawman.

    Not really. lc1789 says that any tariff is a trade war, and the only way to have free trade is if both sides have zero tariffs.

    At least Shirley proposes unilateral disarmament.

    To which I have agreed more than once.

    which is better than some hobo jacking off on the subway yelling "Bastiat!", "Adam Smith!" intermittently.

    Um, yeah. I state one of their arguments and mention their name, or ask that the person read something of theirs and then give a title or a link. Of course the arguments are dismissed and the links are ignored, but at least I made an attempt to cure someone of their ignorance.

  • Shirley Knott||

    And just to note, although I'm sure sarcasmic is well aware, what I, and others, propose is not disarmament. Trade is the opposite of war.
    I reject, entirely, the notion that 'trade war' is a meaningful and well-founded notion.
    It is a glib rhetorical ploy ginned up by knaves and fools.

  • sarcasmic||

    what I, and others, propose is not disarmament.

    Yes and no. Getting rid of trade barriers is disarmament, but not in the way that protectionists imagine.

    Because tariffs are cannons aimed at the very people the government is supposed to protect.

    They lay waste to domestic wealth by prohibiting consumers from buying products at the lowest available price.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Free trade causes highly visible economic dislocation and job loss that can be directly attributable to government policy. The people who are dislocated will vote on their perceived interests.

    Free trade is not simply an economic question, it is also a domestic political problem that a government must deal with. Railing against the existence of the political problem does not make it go away.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Educating the ignorant... When their minds are open enough to be persuaded, which is sadly not often enough the case... MAY actually help from time to time!

  • Kristian H.||

    So, educating the ignorant goes like what? "Sorry you lost your job and your town is dying. You need to smarten up and realize it is for the greater good. Learn to program and go get looked down in California you benighted troglodyte." Sounds like a winning platform.

  • SQRLSY One||

    It's a more winning program than saying to them, "Yes, Trump is a Wise Person, a Benevolent One. Now take His Wisdom to it's natural conclusions. We Iowans should tax our coming-into-Iowa goods and services, because "winning" for Iowans, and "good jobs for good Iowans". The founding fathers adding the interstate commerce clause, in order to eliminate such inter-state trade barriers, was one giant moronic mistake!"

  • SQRLSY One||

    A person who is mentally ill has delusions of grandeur, or illusions that he is 12 persons instead of 1 person. If I affirm his delusions of grandeur, or illusions of being more than 1 person, I add to, and postpone, his reckonings of pain.

    If I humor the ignorant, and convince them that limiting trade, and making them pay higher taxes (tariffs) is going to make them richer, then I delay reckoning and increase collective pain as well. Yes, sometimes the few (at the expense of the many) may gain an advantage (protection from competition) for a little while. But if we have the public good in mind, we will call that animal by its true name... "Self-centered greed".

  • Kristian H.||

    "I think that I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm going to think I'm a better political director than my political director."

    - Tr ^H^H Obama

  • Mickey Rat||

    Wow, Reese Witherspoon has really let herself go to seed.

  • MikeP2||

    So much screeching.

    Trump blasted NAFTA repeated last year, but a unilateral withdraw never happened. In fact, negotiations on updating NAFTA are well underway with concessions from both Mexico and Canada on key sticking points. Funny that.

    Trump has been blasting trade with China for the last few months, slapping key tariffs on certain goods designed to hurt Chinese trade. All reports are that it will hurt us, but hurt China far worse. Is this all a ploy to force a more equitable trade situation? Perhaps get China to tone down the extreme management of trade that defines their economy and lean more toward a freer system? Basically do what TPP completely ignored.
    Time will tell.

    But taking one thing Trump says and holding it up as absolute proof of his plan, and then utterly dismissing something else he says as a complete fabrication is childish. But that's Chapman's schtick.

    Perhaps rational people can wait a little while and see what happens. Because, heaven forbid, this might be 'politics'!

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Well, we have a lot of morons posting here today. Which is pretty much anyone who agrees with Chapman.

  • sarcasmic||

    The moron is the person who says something is stupid based upon who wrote it instead upon the content.

  • Echospinner||

    Wait a little while.

    As if we had any other choice.

  • Siohvaughn Funchess||

    Siohvaughn Funches is a famous Public speaker, Christian Counselor, and creator and Siohvaughn Funches born in The America.

  • Dillinger||

    "the exact opposite of what economists recommend" is exactly what the *other* economists recommend.

  • LNF1||

    Too many of the comments sound like they were written by vulgar seventh graders. Why doesn't REASON clean it up? Otherwise, reading the comments is a waste of time.

  • Mcgoo95||

    I'm afraid you're not going to fare well here...

  • texexpatriate||

    Before there were governments on the part of the continent that became the U.S.A people prospered without tariffs. British tariffs brought about the birth of the U.S.A. That Union's dependence on punitive taxes and tariffs that produced nearly 75 percent of federal revenue led many states to withdraw from the U.S. in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, establish another American nation, suffer a war by Abe Lincoln launched in an effort to recover that revenue, and killed 750,000 Americans. I see little good in tariffs and everything good in free markets. However, there is nothing rational that can be done to correct a corrupt federal tyranny and its effects except to leave that tyranny.

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