06/13/2018

Free Trade Already Puts America First

David Harsanyi, The Federalist

These days, the label “globalist” is a pejorative meant to insinuate that a person is more concerned about international corporations than about his fellow American citizens.

Now, admittedly, I support nearly unlimited trade, no matter what other nations do. It’s mostly because I love America. “Hey, those Chinese communists are killing us with high tariffs … maybe we should do the same thing to our own citizens!” sounds like a counterproductive idea wrapped in a false choice. Harming hundreds of millions of consumers to try and save a handful of unproductive jobs, no matter how good it feels, doesn’t put America first.

Donald Trump, a man who campaigned on protectionist rhetoric (he was not alone) says he can finagle better trade agreements for the United States. Honestly, if he’s using the threat of tariffs as a cudgel to attain those deals, I don’t really care if Justin Trudeau’s feelings are hurt. I’m fine with the “We’re America, B-tch” Doctrine as long as it’s actually good for America.

Judging from his rhetoric, though, it seems the president believes protectionism is preferable to deals that lower barriers all around. His public position on trade — one of his only enduring political positions — is that jobs and industries can be saved using tariffs.

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