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.
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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.
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