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Trump Considering Trade Tariffs: Is That Good or Bad?

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From Down With Tyranny


U.S. Balance of Trade since 1960. Green indicates net inflow in dollars from abroad. Red indicates net outflow in dollars to foreign entities (source). Alexander Hamilton would not approve.
(Image by U.S. Dept of Commerce:Bureau of Economic Analysis)
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A drive-by for a long holiday weekend. As noted here earlier, according to the writers at Axios, including former Politico denizen Mike Allen, Trump is strongly considering imposing trade tariffs on some foreign-produced products like steel.

Here's their report minus the fear-inducing headline (emphasis in original):

"With the political world distracted by President Trump's media wars, one of the most consequential and contentious internal debates of his presidency unfolded during a tense meeting Monday in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, administration sources tell Axios.
  • The outcome, with a potentially profound effect on U.S. economic and foreign policy, will be decided in coming days.
  • With more than 20 top officials present, including Trump and Vice President Pence, the president and a small band of America First advisers made it clear they're hell-bent on imposing tariffs -- potentially in the 20% range -- on steel, and likely other imports.
  • The penalties could eventually extend to other imports. Among those that may be considered: aluminum, semiconductors, paper, and appliances like washing machines.
One official estimated the sentiment in the room as 22 against and 3 in favor -- but since one of the three is named Donald Trump, it was case closed.

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No decision has been made, but the President is leaning towards imposing tariffs, despite opposition from nearly all his Cabinet."
The Trump plan was reportedly designed by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Steve Bannon, and policy advisers Peter Navarro and Stephen Miller -- in other words, the anti-"globalists" in the administration.

No decision has been made, but one may be forthcoming fairly soon.

The Consequences

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There are two ways to look at the consequences of this action, if it occurs. One is from the neoliberal establishment in both parties -- "trade war," "loss of jobs," and particularly (quoting from Axios) "bad global politics."

The other way is this: Tariffs built America for nearly 150 years since its birth, protecting American industries from the ravages of industrially stronger nations. We became a 20th Century powerhouse thanks to tariffs and trade protection. The same is true of every developing country -- that tariffs are good for the local economy -- which is why the international (neoliberal) giants want to crush protectionism (unless it protects them).

After all, it's called "protectionism" for a reason. Economies need protecting from predatory giants in every age.

Further, if reverence for the founders carries any weight with you, especially reverence for our currently lionized founder Alexander Hamilton, U.S. trade protectionist policies -- and government economic interventionist policies in general -- start right at his desk:
"Hamilton was alone among the 'founding fathers' in understanding that the world was witnessing two revolutions simultaneously. One was the political transformation, embodied in the rise of republican government. The other was the economic rise of modern capitalism, with its globalizing networks of production, trade, and finance. Hamilton grasped the epochal importance of applied science and machinery as forces of production.

"In the face of these changes, Hamilton created (and largely executed) a plan for government-led economic development along lines that would be followed in more recent times by many countries (particularly in East Asia) that have undergone rapid industrialization. His political mission was to create a state that could facilitate, encourage, and guide the process of economic change -- a policy also known as dirigisme, although the expression never entered the American political lexicon the way its antonym, laissez-faire, did."
Do these moves by Donald Trump "echo Alexander Hamilton"? Even Bloomberg News thinks so.

Your Bottom Line

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If this occurs, and you're one of those who hates Democratic Party neoliberalism, cheer this action and do it publicly, despite what you think of Trump -- and despite however strongly pro-neoliberal Democrats want to shame you into silence.

Supporting the current neoliberal global order keeps all of us in our poverty-fueled place. This is what #RealResistance should be about -- opposing rule by the rich -- not following party flags and banners regardless of where they lead us.

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A writer who contributes to a number of publications, including digby's Hullabaloo, Down With Tyranny, Naked Capitalism, Truthout and Alternet.

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