Mr. Trump’s proposal to build new barriers to trade with Mexico ignores the harm that is sure to come to the armies of American factory workers, entrepreneurs and suppliers of business services who buy and sell across the border. Mr. Trump forgets these men and women at his own political peril.
One thing is certain: This is not the party of Ronald Reagan anymore. Republicans have gone so far off the rails that they not only gave standing ovations to calls for more government infrastructure spending, they applauded demands for blatantly protectionist policies. The GOP has apparently forgotten the fact that for decades it stood for free trade and pretended to want to reduce the debt.
According to a tweet sent by House Speaker Paul Ryan this morning, “Last night POTUS delivered a bold optimistic message to the America people.” No Mr. Speaker, he didn’t.
George had a clear-eyed view of voluntary trade and showed how it is mutually beneficial and increases overall wealth. “If I trade with a Canadian, a Mexican, or an Englishman it is for the same reason that I trade with an American—that I would rather have the thing he gives me than the thing I give him. If I did not want the thing I am to get more than the thing I am to give, I would not wish to make the trade.” [VI.26] Those who worry that foreign companies are hurting us by “dumping” their underpriced products on American consumers have it exactly backwards. Wrote George: “There is no one who in exchanging his own productions for the productions of another would think that the more he gave and the less he got the better off he would be. Yet to many men nothing seems clearer than that the more of its own productions a nation sends away, and the less of the productions of other nations it receives in return, the more profitable its trade.” [XIII.1]