Free Minds & Free Markets

Trump's 'Buy American. Hire American' Policy Is Dangerous Nonsense: New at Reason

nikzane/flickrnikzane/flickrIn a political sense, the issue of "Buy American. Hire American" is much like fighting climate change.

David Harsanyi writes:

"We don't have a level playing field for our workers," President Donald Trump told a group of workers in Kenosha, Wisc., on Tuesday. Truth is, if we were to ever level the playing field with countries like Mexico and China, the average American worker would be making $3 an hour and spending their pittance on third-world health care and decrepit housing. Please, don't level the playing field.

When few things are going your way in politics, though, it's customary to return to rhetoric that made you successful. So, as Republicans have been unable to push forward on health care reform or tax reform—or anything not named Neil Gorsuch, for that matter—it is unsurprising that Trump would turn to protectionism as a way to bolster his political fortunes.

On Tuesday, the president traveled to a tool manufacturing company in Wisconsin and threw some nationalistic bromides at a blue-collar crowd (none of which included the words "I'm afraid some of your jobs will be taken by robots in the future"), and then signed an executive order ordering the White House to look into ways to curb guest worker visa programs and require government agencies to buy more goods and services from American companies.

For the past two years, over 200,000 foreigners applied for open positions each year. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services holds a lottery and gives out 85,000 H-1B visas to high-skilled foreign workers. It's a program that's most popular with the tech industry, due to a shortage of Americans trained in science and engineering. I suppose it's a lot easier to stop talented immigrants from entering the country than to find ways to incentivize Americans to become math majors.


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