When was the last time a Republican president was so hostile to free trade and dismissed the usual “free market” apologetics as the “dumb market”?
Of course, it is possible that Trump will excessively rely on tax cuts and deregulation and provoke a race to the bottom in his trade policies. Or his tax cuts could be combined with protectionism, plus some harmful deregulation (which could be undone by a future Democratic president), and these policies might actually do a great deal of good to re-shore manufacturing to the US.
But, in any case, even though his implied message here is quite obviously bashing the free market and free trade, there has to be the ritualistic and, frankly, comically religious praise of “free trade” – even though it’s plain as day he’s planning to impose protectionism.
It would be so much better if he had said something like this:
“I love free trade in principle, OK? But, in practice, we just don’t have it, OK? We just don’t have it. Everybody cheats. China cheats. Japan cheats. The Europeans cheat. So therefore we need to be smart, and have fair trade, and protect American jobs and manufacturing. And, if we need tariffs, then that’s smart trade.”At least this would have been a much stronger answer to his critics.
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