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Donald Trump: Making free trade great again by employing the crudest, dumbest forms of protectionism imaginable – Publications – AEI

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AEI Donald Trump: Making free trade great again by employing the crudest, dumbest forms of protectionism imaginable Here are some excerpts from an excellent article in the June issue of Reason Magazine by Daniel W. Drezner, professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University (“The Economic Case for Free Trade Is Stronger Than Ever: But working-class identity politics threaten to ruin everything“): The case for protectionism is weaker than at any moment in this century. Neither the Trump administration nor its supporters have any valid economic or national security reason for these tariffs, and even tariff supporters admit it. Still, actual trade policy will get worse in the short run. The current schism on the issue has little to do with

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Donald Trump: Making free trade great again by employing the crudest, dumbest forms of protectionism imaginable

Donald Trump: Making free trade great again by employing the crudest, dumbest forms of protectionism imaginable - Publications – AEI

Here are some excerpts from an excellent article in the June issue of Reason Magazine by Daniel W. Drezner, professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University (“The Economic Case for Free Trade Is Stronger Than Ever: But working-class identity politics threaten to ruin everything“):

The case for protectionism is weaker than at any moment in this century. Neither the Trump administration nor its supporters have any valid economic or national security reason for these tariffs, and even tariff supporters admit it. Still, actual trade policy will get worse in the short run. The current schism on the issue has little to do with economics and everything to do with identity, and the metamorphosis of this debate spells trouble for defenders of the open global economy.

……

Yet in his own blinkered, unintentional way, Donald Trump is making free trade great again. By employing the crudest, dumbest forms of protectionism imaginable, he has managed to alienate his erstwhile political and intellectual allies.

…….

In contrast to every president since FDR (including both Obama and Bush, despite what their respective critics may have said), Donald Trump does not believe in the benefits of trade. Previous presidents have at times taken protectionist actions, but everyone understood they were committed to greater liberalization in the future. No one thinks this about Trump, and that makes his protectionism even more dangerous to the global trading system.

……

This does not mean that protectionists are losing. Rather, they are scorching the earth. The current debate is not really about economics or national security; it’s about identity. Trump has distilled his case for the tariffs into a simple phrase: “If you don’t have steel, you don’t have a country!” As usual, the implication is factually incorrect—the United States already produces about 70 percent of the steel it consumes. But that does not really matter. The president is evoking a bygone era when steel was a major employer in the Rust Belt. Never mind that new industries are arising all the time, Trump is appealing to nostalgia for a world in which factory workers have children who then go on to work in the same factory.

……

It is difficult if not impossible to change anyone’s mind when people’s positions on an issue are grounded in political identity. Trade policy is threatening to turn into the same quagmire as immigration policy. The aggrieved voices of the few will outweigh the preferences of the many, and most of us will be poorer as a result.

……

What we are witnessing is the triumph of politics that privilege the emotional well-being of a subset of Americans over sound economic policy for everyone. It will cost an untold number of jobs. It compromises our national security. And it threatens to poison the political debate about this issue for the next generation.

Bonus: Venn diagram above, inspired by editor-in-chief Katherine Mangu-Ward’s article in the same issue of Reason  “Tariffs Are Self-Imposed Sanctions: We restrict trade to punish our enemies. Why would we do the same to ourselves?”

Donald Trump: Making free trade great again by employing the crudest, dumbest forms of protectionism imaginable
Mark Perry

Mark Perry
Mark J. Perry is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus. He is best known as the creator and editor of the popular economics blog Carpe Diem. At AEI, Perry writes about economic and financial issues for American.com and the AEIdeas blog.

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