Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Trump Has an Obvious Vice President

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Trump Has an Obvious Vice President

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - Republican leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan have explained that their core rationale in supporting Donald Trump is that only he can ensure the success of conservative, free market ideas. The alternative, Ryan notes, is Hillary Clinton, who would simply continue Barack Obama's policies. One wonders how Ryan will continue to justify his support now that Trump has made clear that he will run for the presidency as the most protectionist candidate since the 1920s. On the central issue of trade, Trump is in broad agreement with Bernie Sanders and significantly to the left of Obama and Clinton.

Free trade is at the heart of free markets. Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations was in large part a critique of government's regulation, manipulation and taxation of trade, all of which, Smith argued, undermine growth and prosperity. Ryan understands this well, which is why he has voted in favor of every free trade agreement presented to him while in Congress: with Peru, South Korea, Central America, Australia, Singapore and Chile. Ryan also aggressively supported granting the Obama administration "trade promotion authority," so that it could complete a trade deal with Asian countries.

Trump, on the other hand, regards free trade as the cause of American decline. He has criticized virtually all of America's recent trade deals. For him, China's entry into the World Trade Organization has been "disastrous." On these trade matters, American manufacturing, and now Brexit, Trump's positions are largely indistinguishable from Bernie Sanders'. Yet Republicans continue to call Sanders a socialist and Trump a conservative.

The appeal of both Trump and Sanders has many politicians mouthing cliches about the deep problems with globalization. It is true that two gifted populists have been able to give voice to people's fears about a fast-changing world. But this does not alter the truth. Their central charge is false. Free trade has not caused the hollowing out of American manufacturing.

Manufacturing as a share of all American jobs has been declining for 70 years, as part of a transition experienced by every advanced industrial economy. …

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