I abominate Trump. He wants the USA to pull out of the Trans Pacific Partnership. He wants to end NAFTA. The president cannot do this only Congress can. However, the president’s proposals are likely to be followed by Congress since it is mostly Republican.
For over 25 years the USA had been pursuing free trade policies. Protectionism has been largely abandoned. This has co incided with the loss of tens of millions of manufacturing jobs. Blue collar Americans have found it harder to secure jobs. Their jobs have been short term and less well paid than before. Their benefits have been cut back. Companies have outsourced to countries that will produce the same goods for a fraction of the cost.
In other lands workers have fewer protections. There are few environmental laws. The environment can be polluted with impunity such as in China.
Working class Americans found their jobs under threat from illegal immigrants. People working in the USA illegally were able to get informal employment and be paid in cash by unscrupulous employers. This undercut American workers. Many decry Trump’s plan to deport all illegal immigrants. It seemed excessive to me. Someone who had lived in the USA for over 20 years without committing a crime ought to be forgiven. Trump back tracked on his policy of kicking out all undocumented workers no matter how long they had lived in the United States. He later said it only applied to criminals. Those who denounced his plan to boot out illegal immigrants ask yourself how you would feel if your job was under threat from illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants are not bad people. They have broken the law in a minor way. I have worked illegally and do not consider myself to be wicked. It is a victimless crime. However, laws need to be upheld. I could not object if I were deported. I do not judge people for immigrating illegally to the United States. If I were them I would do likewise.
This has all seemed to be calamitous for working class Americans. They can buy goods more cheaply than before. If they have money to spend that is. Trump’s central message is that the US can pull back up the drawbridge. The United States can charge tariffs on imports. This is supposed to restore jobs to the United States. The trouble is that other countries will retaliate and charge tariffs on American exports. The US does not have a large export sector for goods unless these are very high tech.
Will Trump’s plan to bring back blue collar jobs work? I suspect not. I am no economist. Most economists say it will be catastrophic. They are more likely to know than him. The US survives on trade. If it reduces its trade it will hurt itself. Are Americans willing to pay much more for goods than they do now just to keep their countrymen employed? I think not. This is a very consumerist society.
Most Republicans in the Senate and the House are more economically savvy than Trump. Trump made billions. Partly by outsourcing and owning businesses outside the USA. Congress will be under pressure from lobbyists not to go against free trade. Trump will probably not get his way on protectionism. Even if he did then it would surely not work. It would take a long time for any benefit to be felt. In the meantime there would be huge dislocation.
Perhaps I am dead wrong. Maybe Trump’s policies will be passed. It is possible that they shall bear fruit. Time will tell.