When it rains, it often pours. As each passing state primary indicates, in November voters will likely be choosing between two presidential candidates with little interest in limited government or personal liberty.
That’s not all they agree on.
Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are hostile to free trade. The latter has actually called for a 45 percent tariff on China. The former hasn’t yet gone that far, but has conveniently transformed into a free trade skeptic (readers will recall her husband signed the North American Free Trade Agreement once upon a time ago) due to pressure from primary opponent, socialist Bernie Sanders.
All this means that whoever the next president is, they will almost certainly be a foe of free trade. This prospect has been hailed in some quarters, the New York Times for example, as a welcome development. But the truth is it’s very bad news.
Clinton and Trump are shrewdly responding to very legitimate populist anxiety that has enveloped swaths of both America’s major political parties over the still slack economy and withering wages. But the solutions advanced by these would-be presidents, such as stopping foreign goods from reaching America’s shores, will not cure the country’s economic ailments.
That’s because free trade isn’t the source of poor paying jobs and a recovery that has missed most of America’s middle class. Chalk that up to the absence of a true growth agenda and years worth of faulty monetary and fiscal policy.
Free trade, of course, is two-way proposition. By allowing Americans to sell their own products to the rest of the world, free trade agreements (FTAs) generate million of jobs. In fact, one in four U.S. manufacturing jobs is reliant on exports.
That’s why the current lunge towards protectionism is so concerning. Less free trade will lead to higher prices and lower quality goods for consumers, whose purchases drive 2/3 of the country’s gross domestic product.
And the call for tariffs is downright dangerous. That’s because countries like China will quickly retaliate with their own tariffs on U.S. goods, leading to a trade war that could drag the entire world into a recession, or worse, a depression.
America has lost jobs because it has lost its competitive edge thanks to anti-growth policies and a reliance on big government programs, not free trade. Clinton and Trump, unfortunately, don’t see it this way. And that’s bad news for the entire country. If free trade becomes a thing of the past, so will America’s prosperity.
Originally Posted on NewsMax.com
Categorised in: News