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Hullabaloo


Monday, January 25, 2016

 
And more conservatives begin the process of reconciling themselves to Trump

by digby



















Here's Reformicon Reihan Salam at Slate:

If there is one thing that GOP primary voters know about Trump, it is that he intends to build a wall along the southern border of the United States and that he will somehow strong-arm Mexico into paying for it. If there’s another thing those voters know, it’s probably that Trump favors barring Muslims, or at least some Muslims, from entering the U.S. “until we can figure out what’s going on”—the centerpiece of his first TV campaign advertisement. But Trump has also drawn attention to the U.S. trade deficit with China, shaking a metaphorical fist at the Asian superpower since at least 2011. And as of this week, according to a report by Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, Trump is calling for a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports. Though Trump insists that he is “a free trader,” he argues that China’s trade practices are so egregiously unfair that the U.S. has little choice but to retaliate.

The candidate’s detractors will no doubt see his China-bashing as another example of Trumpian buffoonery. Most students of U.S.-China trade will tell you that both countries benefit from the flow of goods and services across the Pacific, and that although China is guilty of imposing nontariff barriers, subsidizing its exporters in violation of global trade rules, and failing to respect the intellectual property rights of U.S. entities, the pros for American investors, workers, and consumers massively outweigh the cons. There is a problem with that view, however.

Regardless of the effect of Chinese import competition on the U.S. economy as a whole, there is no question that its impact on some regions, and some groups of workers, has been devastating. Everyone understands that free trade will be a boon to some and a burden to others. But it is the job of government to ensure that the “losers” from Chinese import competition are given the help they need to adjust to global economic integration. And it seems pretty clear that our government hasn’t done this job terribly well.
[...]

Does this mean that the U.S. would have been better off had we walled ourselves off from Chinese imports, or had we imposed Trump-style 45 percent tariffs decades ago? I seriously doubt it. Yet it is striking to consider just how indifferent Republican and Democratic elites have been to the devastating effects of deindustrialization.

I don't suppose it's necessary to point out his call for Mexican deportation and building a wall, the Muslim ban and the China bashing might have in common for all these conservative white workers. Somehow I don't think it's trade policy.

Reihan Salam is right that the inability or unwillingness to deal with the plight of workers whose jobs have been outsourced to China is a moral blight on the American political system, particularly on the GOP which has fetishized free markets with religious fervor. But excusing the demagoguery of Donald Trump (and yes, the willingness of his followers to believe that all their problems stem from foreigners and people of color) is an equally deplorable moral blight. If Trump's campaign has had the salutary effect of opening people's eyes to the way unfettered capitalism is screwing ordinary workers, that's terrific. But I'm going to guess that's not the lesson people are taking from Trump's bellicose thundering about "the cunning Chinese" and our "stupid leaders."


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