March 10, 2016

Trumpian Danger

No. Donald Trump is not Hitler. But Trump could be a horrid amalgam of Presidents Nixon and Hoover. Feeling Better?

A scene from a future Donald Trump presidency? Actually, it's what Richard Nixon did in 1971.

As Mr. Trump closes in on the Republican presidential nomination by promising voters he'll crack down on foreign competitors, the rest of the world should take stock of the extraordinary power a president has to take the country in a protectionist direction.

Mr. Trump says he's for free trade and not a protectionist. Nonetheless, he has threatened steep tariffs on imports from China and Mexico and disparages trade pacts, from the North American Free Trade Agreement to the signed but unratified 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Greg Ip's [Review Corner] WSJ editorial laments a concern that I have voiced -- the President has broad powers on trade policy that are less entangled with other branches. President Sanders will have a tough time enacting single-payer healthcare, but he or President Trump can wreck the world economy with a phone and a pen.
Smoot-Hawley was largely the product of horse trading between individual legislators to protect favored industries. As a result, in 1934, Congress decided to forgo "the business of tariff logrolling," as trade historian Doug Irwin writes, and delegated most authority over tariff negotiations to the president.

This division of power has insulated the world trading system from Congress's parochial tendencies. By the same token, it puts the world more at the mercy of presidents whose latitude over trade has steadily expanded.

Hillary 2016 -- Vote for the crook! It's important.

GOP 2016 Primary Posted by John Kranz at March 10, 2016 10:02 AM

Some well-spoken Trump supporters dismiss "free" trade as some utopian ideal. Even if the U.S. decides to go down that road, every other country on earth rigs trade relations in their favor, just like Mr. Trump has told them.

"Lost in all of this is the older strain of conservatism. The one I grew up with and thought was reflective of the movement. This strain of conservatism believed in the free market and capitalism but did not fetishize them the way so many libertarians do.

This strain understood that a situation where every country in the world but the US acts in its own interests on matters of international trade and engages in all kinds of skulduggery in support of their interests is not free trade by any rational definition. This strain understood that a government's first loyalty was to its citizens and the national interest."

Not mentioned here is that what is really in the US interest is to use our negotiating power to insist that while we trade on a level marketplace, our international partners must do so as well. But, true or not, Trump voters don't believe that the numerous international trade pacts have accomplished this. And they blame that failure for a moribund domestic economy, whose true cause is a national government that taxes and regulates ever more relentlessly.

Posted by: johngalt at March 10, 2016 2:29 PM | What do you think? [1]