August 07, 2018
On meeting with the EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker last month, Donald Trump tweeted: “Both the U.S. and the E.U. drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies! That would finally be Free Market and Fair Trade.”
Did Larry Kudlow somehow get access to Trump’s phone?
We know not. But, on hearing this, Steve Forbes, Stephen Moore and Arthur Laffer broke into the “Hallelujah” chorus of Handel’s “Messiah.”
“Amen,” they thundered in The New York Times.
Trump should declare “total trade disarmament” to be national policy and make free trade his “legacy” to America. Such a proclamation, they wrote, would assure Trump the “moral high ground” in the global debate and transform him from “evil disrupter of international commerce to potential savior.”
For free trade is always and ever a “win-win for trading partners.”
To read the Times op-ed is to appreciate that what we are dealing with here is an ideology, a political religion, a creed, a cult.
For consider the fruits of free trade policy during the last 25 years: the frozen wages of U.S. workers, $12 trillion in U.S. trade deficits, 55,000 factories lost, 6 million manufacturing jobs gone, China surpassing the U.S in manufacturing, all causing a backlash that pushed a political novice to the Republican nomination and into the presidency.
To maintain a belief in the superiority of free trade to economic patriotism, in the face of such results, is to recognize that this belief system is impervious to contradictory proof.
Still, the enduring enthusiasm of free trade zealots is not the only sign that GOP globalists, having learned nothing and forgotten nothing, are looking to a post-Trump era to resurrect their repudiated dogmas.
In USA Today, Jeffrey Miron, director of economic studies at the libertarian flagship think tank Cato Institute, wrote last week:
“The solution to America’s immigrant problems is open borders. … Open borders means no walls, fences, screenings at airports, ICE … deportations, detention centers or immigration courts.”
And what would happen after we declare open borders?
“Immigrants will not flood into America. … Crime will not skyrocket. … Even if values and culture change, so what? … Who says America’s current values—some of them deeply evil—are the right ones?”
Bottom line for Cato’s Miron: If we throw open America’s borders and invite the world to come in and to remake who we are as a nation, “Think about the money we could save and make.”
This is truly economics uber alles, economy before country.
Other open borders and free trade true believers have begun speaking out. Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, a megadonor to the GOP, has just lashed out at Trump as “divisive” and denounced the “rise in protectionism.”
Nations, organizations and individuals, said Koch, “are doing whatever they can to close themselves off from the new, hold onto the past and prevent change.”
He added, “This is a natural tendency, but it is a destructive one.”
In a pair of tweets, Trump fired back:
“The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas. I made them richer.
“Their network is highly overrated, I have beaten them at every turn. They want to protect their companies outside the U.S. from being taxed, I’m for America First & the American Worker—a puppet for no one. Two nice guys with bad ideas. Make America Great Again!”