Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.
When he became president, Joe Biden summarily reversed his predecessor's policies on a range of issues, including climate change, immigration, taxes, social welfare and police reform. But on international trade, it's almost like Donald Trump never left.
Trump had a primitive view of this issue. Good, in his view, were exports, trade surpluses, tariffs and trade wars. Bad were imports, trade deficits and multilateral trade agreements.
He saw global commerce as a zero-sum game, in which anything that benefited another country must come at our expense, and vice versa. He was unable to grasp that exchanges of goods and services across national borders could — and do — make people in every nation better off.
So, Trump slapped tariffs on steel, aluminum, solar panels and washing machines. He put tariffs on some $360 billion worth of Chinese apparel, appliances, machinery, shoes and more. He threatened to slap import taxes on cars made abroad.
He pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade accord with 11 other countries. He ended talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a major effort to lower trade barriers between the U.S. and the European Union. He nullified the World Trade Organization, which resolves trade disputes, by blocking the appointment of new members to the body that hears those cases.
But his efforts accomplished nothing worthwhile. They raised prices to American consumers while punishing American companies that use steel and aluminum. What the Tax Foundation described as "one of the largest tax increases in decades" now costs the typical American family more than $1,200 a year.
The tariffs failed to create jobs in the steel industry, which shrank even before the pandemic, and produced only a tiny boost in aluminum jobs. But a study by economists at the consulting firm The Trade Partnership estimated they would eliminate some 145,000 jobs in other sectors.
Our trading partners retaliated against U.S. companies with tariffs of their own. American farmers were hit so hard that Trump had to come up with $23 billion to cushion the blow.
Nor did his strategy reduce our trade deficits. The overall U.S. trade deficit last year was the biggest since 2008. China has not given up the practices Trump was trying to stop.
In March, Gallup found that 63 percent of Americans — including 79 percent of Democrats — have a positive view of trade, with only 32 percent disagreeing. Biden was part of the Obama administration, which negotiated the Pacific trade deal and pressed hard to reach an agreement with the EU. But the Democratic Party has somehow fallen under the sway of protectionists, and he's shown little interest in resisting.
He's left most of Trump's tariffs in place, and his trade representative, Katherine Tai, said removing them would be a bad idea. She vowed a "worker-centric" trade policy focused on raising wages, omitting such goals as expanding commerce and fostering competition. Her stance fits the prevailing progressive superstition that commerce with the world makes us poorer.
That view is bad economics and bad history. In her 2019 book Open: The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration and Global Capital, Reed College economist Kimberly Clausing argues that tariffs "harm consumers, with particularly harmful effects for low- and middle-income workers," while creating disruptions that eliminate jobs in affected industries. Nearly nine out of ten losses in manufacturing jobs, she notes, are the result of technological advances, not international competition.
Trump portrayed China as a ruthless predator that exploits global rules for competitive advantage. But that's the very reason that he should have kept the U.S. in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was designed to facilitate trade among the Pacific Rim countries — not including China.
It would have put strong pressure on Beijing to reform its trade practices to gain admission. But with the TPP dead at Trump's hands, 15 Asian countries opted for a different trade agreement. In this accord, China is in, and the U.S. is out.
Trump's sabotage of the WTO's appellate body was another own goal. From 2002 through 2018, it had heard 23 cases involving disputes between the U.S. and China — with the U.S. winning 20 and China winning zero (with three pending). The U.S. should be pushing the WTO to crack down on China's abuses, not kneecapping the only system for addressing them.
As a rule, any policy Trump embraced is one that ought to be abandoned. Trade is not the exception.
Steve Chapman blogs at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman. Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Reprinted with permission from American Independent
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) claimed on Tuesday that advocating for dismantling systemic racism is propaganda in service to the Communist Party of China.
On Tuesday afternoon, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan wrote, "On the anniversary of George Floyd's murder, we reflect on the fact that dismantling systemic racism is also a national security priority. The fight for racial justice at home and abroad is foundational to our future & to how the world sees us."
"This tweet is approved by the Communist Party of China," Cotton tweeted in response just minutes later.
Republicans in Congress largely ignored the anniversary of George Floyd's murder. But they have been more vocal about the supposed communist threat of anti-racist policy and education.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Wednesday argued that "social justice" is "often code for social Marxism." Rep. Matt Gaetz said just days ago that "the real threat to our nation is the Marxism and Critical Race Theory that they [the Biden administration] embraces." And Rep. Mo Brooks wrote earlier in May that "Marxism stokes division by fanning the flames of class, race, and gender resentment."
Cotton has repeatedly lashed out at efforts to address systemic racism in America.
In February, he characterized efforts by the Biden administration to address racism as "anti-American" and racist itself.
A month later, Cotton said that acknowledging the existence of racial bias in the country was "slander" against America.
Other Republicans have similarly attacked the concept of systemic racism.
Thirty Republicans in the House banded together this month to push legislation that would prevent the government from addressing racism. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), has argued that "systemic socialism" is more of a "real" problem than racism.
International rivals of the United States have tried to exploit the racial animosity in the country to their own advantage. Citing campaigns by the Russian and Chinese governments to highlight and exploit America's racial divisions, the Center for a Just Security recently noted, "America's competitors view its social division, history of racism, and domestic anti-democratic movements as a vulnerability for the country."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
Reprinted with permission from Alternet
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was forced to kick off the week by explaining to Fox News reporter Peter Doocy how international investigations work. Doocy asked why the U.S. government didn't just bypass the World Health Organization (WHO) and ram through a separate investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus that has killed about 600,000 Americans.
Fox News has spent more than a year minimizing COVID-19, its dangers, the ways individuals can protect themselves and others from the deadly virus, mocked – if not slandered – those who are working to do just that, and then fear-mongered around the coronavirus vaccine.
"I think you're misunderstanding how this process actually works," Psaki had to tell Doocy. "First of all, we need access to the underlying data and information in order to have that investigation."
China and the WHO have refused to be sufficiently transparent.
"With 589,920 dead Americans, at what point is President Biden [going to] say, we don't want to wait for the WHO? We don't know what they're doing," Doocy demanded, trying to make foreign policy from a seat in the White House press briefing room. "This needs to be an American led effort to get to the bottom of what happened?"
Doocy went on to try to mock President Joe Biden, saying that "he talks all the time about how he's known President Xi for a long time. So why can't he just call?"
"Why isn't President Biden pushing for more access more information to get to the bottom of exactly what happened?" he also asked.
"We are," Psaki replied, "and we have repeatedly called for the WHO to support an expert driven evaluation of the pandemic's origins, that is free from interference or polarization."
"An international investigation," she also said, "led by the World Health Organization is something that we've actually been pressing for, for several months, in coordination with a range of partners around the world. We need that data. We need that information from the Chinese government, what we can't do and what I would caution anyone doing is leaping ahead of an actual international process. We don't have enough data and information to jump to a conclusion at this point in time."
"So," Doocy, whose network has worked around the clock to attack those concerned about the spread of the coronavirus, asked, "is there any amount of casualties from COVID in this country that would make you want to not wait for an international effort and just do it?"
Psaki refused to allow him to bully the American people.
"Well, I have to say, I think the family members of the loved ones whose lives have been lost deserve accurate information, data, not the jumping to a conclusion without having the information necessary to conclude what the origins are, what we do share. Everyone in this country has a desire to know how this started, where it started and prevent it from ever happening again. That's something we all share."
Psaki: I think you’re misunderstanding how this process actually works https://t.co/CBH5A7obQw— Acyn (@Acyn)1621873922.0
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