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Trump’s Trade Critics Don’t Offer Better Options

August 21, 2019 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Democrats running for president have certainly not hesitated to
criticize President Trump’s trade policies.

There is a good reason for the rhetoric. Several recent studies,
from researchers at Harvard, Columbia, the IMF, and two different
branches of the Federal Reserve, have all concluded that the
tariffs imposed by President Trump on China and others have indeed
hurt American consumers and threatened economic growth domestically
and internationally. For instance, scholars at Columbia, Princeton,
and the New York Fed found that the Trump tariffs had reduced U.S.
real income by $1.4 billion per month by the end of 2018.

In response — or perhaps just because Americans have a
reactive response to any Trump policy — polls suggest that
support for free trade is on the rise. A Monmouth poll found that
52 percent of Americans in 2018 think free-trade agreements are
good for the United States, a dramatic increase when compared to 24
percent in 2015.

Democrats are right to
disagree with Trump. Too bad they don’t bring any good ideas to the
table.

But what exactly are the Democratic presidential candidates
proposing as an alternative? Their policies — as opposed to
their words — don’t seem all that different. In fact, some of
the Democratic plans may be even more restrictive.

For example, many experts believe that the best way to restrain
China would be to join with our regional allies in some sort of
block, similar to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). And there is
reason to believe that our allies would be happy to have us join
the pact. But with the exception of extreme long-shot
Representative John Delaney, every major Democratic candidate
either joins Trump in opposing the TPP or is highly critical of the
current negotiation. Even former vice president Joe Biden won’t
commit to the treaty his administration negotiated.

Biden’s change in position is just his latest concession to the
special interests and unions that dominate the Democratic
primaries. He once voted for normal trade relations in China,
NAFTA, and pushed for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but no
longer.

Nor is it just the TPP that Democrats oppose. Like Trump, most
of the major Democrats oppose NAFTA. But, with the exception of
Beto O’Rourke, they also oppose Trump’s renegotiation of NAFTA
(renamed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA). Most
Democrats have also opposed other, bilateral trade deals, such as
those with Korea and Colombia.

The left flank of the Democratic party is even more anti-trade.
Elizabeth Warren, for instance, wants the focus of trade to be on
labor, the environment, and, ironically, consumers. She wants the
U.S. to trade only with countries that have signed the Paris
Agreement …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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