Yet there are deeper problems, because President Trump’s anti-free trade agenda will hurt—if not devastate—the very people whom he wants to help. Extensive trade between the United States and Mexico is indispensable for the prosperity of both countries. The looming trade war threatens that win/win position. The notion that the United States should run positive trade balances with every country is an absurd position to take in international economic relations, lest every country has the right to claim the same preferred status for itself. Yet it has never occurred to Trump that a negative trade balance amounts to a vote of confidence by other countries that it is safe to invest in the United States, allowing the United States to create new industries and new jobs. Nor does he understand that any effort to be successful in the export market requires importing cheap components from foreign firms—an oversight evident from his ill-conceived executive order calling, whenever legal, for American pipe on an American pipelines.
Dan Mitchell is correct to observe that “One of the unfortunate features of Washington is that people often wind up in places that bring out their worst behaviors.” And, as Dan explains, one of these people is Jeff Sessions.