Since the election, these pages have been awash with commentary suggesting that the incoming Trump administration is likely making a tremendous mistake by adopting an inward-looking, protectionist agenda when it comes to trade.
I’ve argued that Trump and those he’s chosen to represent US interests on the international stage are on the verge of setting not only America, but the entire world, on a path backwards in time.
In that regard, the new President’s trade policies are an extension of his stance on immigration reform. Essentially, Trump (and those like Nigel Farage in Britain, Marine Le Pen in France, and Frauke Petry in Germany who share his vision) wants to rollback globalization in a shocking rebuke of progressivism and multiculturalism.
Below, find an excerpt from a piece that ran this week in The Atlantic which argues that in fact, Trump is literally seeking to roll back the clock. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that times have changed…
In a way, President-elect Donald Trump sees the world the way America’s Founding Fathers did. Like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, Trump wants to protect American manufacturers by taxing products made overseas and sold in the United States. Alexander Hamilton, the country’s first treasury secretary, wrote to Congress in 1791 in his Report on Manufactures, that “by enhancing the charges on foreign articles, they enable the national manufacturers to undersell all their foreign competitors.” Trump, taking a similar view, said he would slap a 45 percent tariff on imports from China, and a 35 percent tariff on all products that American companies make abroad and try to sell here. “Please be forewarned before making a very expensive mistake!” Trump tweeted last month at American companies considering relocating their factories abroad.
As Trump makes his final picks for positions that will shape the country’s trade policies, it’s clear that he hopes to return the United States to its protectionist past. But the thing is, of course, that the American economy today is far different from Hamilton’s America.
While Trump’s views of trade resemble those from 200 years ago, even Alexander Hamilton cautioned against raising tariffs so high that they would eliminate healthy foreign competition. His idea was to encourage domestic industry, not protect it. So while Trump shares the protectionist economic view of some Founding Fathers, his proposals are even more extreme.