Stupid Trade Policy Isn’t the Only Reason We Lose Jobs – But It’s a Big One

Seton Motley | Less Government |
Our Very Stupid,
Long-Unrequited Trade Policy

President Donald Trump is President Donald Trump in no small part because he campaigned acknowledging the elephant that left the room – that being the millions of jobs that have emigrated from the United States over the last several decades.

The Rust Belt – hasn’t always been rusty.  The oxidation onslaught came – as their jobs went.  Trump won – because he directly addressed why in a way no one from either Party had…basically ever.  Rust Belt states a Republican hasn’t won in ages – rewarded him.  Pennsylvania – last Republican red in 1988.  Michigan – 1988.  Wisconsin – 1984.  That was the ball game.

A political aside: Trump is obviously not a politician.  He is a far-from-perfect messenger – with a wholly imperfect message delivery system.  But he has an instinctual feel for what resonates with average Americans.  And a four-decade, uber-successful global business career that time and again showed him what works – and what doesn’t.  And the ability to connect the two – in a faulty-but-winning way.

Imagine what a polished politician – with honed political skills and rigorous message discipline – can do with the path to victory Trump has illuminated.  “Trumpism” certainly can long outlast Trump.  And it must – if the Republicans ever again want to win the Presidency.  Sorry, NeverTrumpers – but all we less-government-types need to acknowledge and embrace this.  End political aside.

There are several stupid-government-policy reasons why America has spent the last several decades hemorrhaging jobs.  Trump, in his ham-handed way, repeatedly hammered them all on the trail – and has gone about addressing them now that he is in the White House.

One reason is our tax code – which is ridiculously dense and complex, and the rates therein punitively high.  We have the world’s highest corporate tax rate – at close to 40%.  Think that doesn’t drive corporate types out of the country – taking their jobs with them?  Of course it does.

Trump beat that drum incessantly.  And has issued a dramatic, sweeping tax reform plan that has everyone that earns any coin – or wants to – salivating at the thought of its passage.  He wants to massively simplify the code.  And cut the corporate rate by more than half – to 15%.  Think that won’t entice corporate types back to the country – bringing their jobs with them?  Of course it will.

Another reason we’ve bled gigs for decades – is our ever-expanding regulatory code.  The regulatory ratchet only ever tightens – and the compliance costs soar.  It cost Americans in 2016 $1.9 trillion to comply – with just federal regulations.  (Then, of course, there are the regs from states, counties, municipalities, cities,.…)  Think that doesn’t send job creators rushing to the U.S. exit doors?  Of course it does.

Trump beat that drum incessantly.  And has gone about rapidly eradicating regs since entering the White House.  Both via Executive Branch actions – and in conjunction with Congress via a baker’s dozen Congressional Review Act Resolutions of Disapproval.  Think a continued, massive regulatory rollback won’t beguile job creators back within our nation’s confines?  Of course it will.

But of course the governments economy-damage-infliction doesn’t end there.  And this is where Trump identified a huge problem – that both Parties pretended for nearly a half century wasn’t a problem at all.

Our “free trade” policies – are actually one-sided, “we’ll be free with your stuff – and you can be as governmentally brutal as you want to our stuff,” titanically stupid trade policies.  That have for job creators made being anywhere else on the planet besides here – an ever-more-attractive proposition.

For instance, we allow in hundreds of billions of dollars per annum in Chinese products – virtually government-free.  Does China return the favor?  Of course not.  They tax heavily just about everything we export to them.  They also manipulate their currency – rendering their exports cheaper on the global market.  Were you a job creator – where would you rather be?

Then there are the international internal government manipulations – that then beget global market warping.  For instance, Brazil subsidizes its sugar industry to the tune of more than $4 billion per annum.  Think that massive subsidization doesn’t help them on the global market?  There are more than 100 nations that hawk sugar internationally.  Brazil – thanks to its huge government help – controls more than half of the entire market.  Nothing “free” about that trade.

Our Farm Bill is really stupid – but it is nowhere near $4-billion-per-year-just-for-sugar stupid.  And if you were a sugar farmer – where would you rather be?  Here with our comparably-tiny stipends – or multi-billion-government-dollar Brazil?

Do our farmers move to Brazil to ply their wares?  Of course not – they just stop plying their wares.  Loads of our farmers have been low-ball-priced out of farming all sorts of crops – as a result of this other-nation market manipulation.  Ever more rust for the great and growing Rust Belt.

Trump spent four decades on the global business circuit – watching our brutally stupid “free trade” policies wreak their havoc on us.  Year after year after years and years – seeing jobs flood out of here.

And who can blame the job creators?  We have spent nearly a half century treating every business everywhere else on the planet – far better than we have treated those who do business here.

Trump didn’t fault them for being able to do math.  He didn’t call them “unpatriotic” and try to find new ways to tax them further still.  What he did – was be the first political figure in decades to add stupid trade policy to the litany of stupid government policies that cause us to lose jobs.

Too much taxing, too many regulations – AND too many absurdly one-sided trade deals.  ALL of which have long contributed to us bleeding millions of gigs.  To everywhere else on the planet – or eradicating them altogether.

Tens of millions of Americans know bad trade policy is bad trade policy – because they’ve been the ongoing, rolling victims of it.  And have watched everyone in Washington pretend what has been happening – hasn’t been happening.

Then came Trump.  Who proclaimed the very obvious – that these horrendous trade deals were a large part of our gigs problem.  And promised to fix it.

And Americans rewarded him with the White House – for being the only guy (now) in D.C. who knows what actual free trade actually is.

Less government – on ALL sides of EVERY deal.  Not just ours.  Which will FINALLY help end our decades-long, massive job exodus.

Very simple, really.

This first appeared in Townhall and Red State.

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