I’ve Got Free Trade on My Brain

Hey, folks. I’m Andy Roth with the Club for Growth. John was gracious enough to let me guest blog while he avoids the Intertubes during Thanksgiving break.

As you may know, the Club is a non-profit group that believes in limited government and lower taxes. We’re all about economic liberty. We breathe it, eat it, and drink it. And one of the issues we love is free trade.

A lot of Democrats can’t stand free trade because their union backers are threatened by it. But that’s expected. Liberals believe in protecting some things, but those things don’t include allowing people to voluntarily trade with other people.

What’s not expect (somewhat), and completely frustrating is that a lot of members in the Republican Party are protectionists as well. Granted, there are a lot of legitimate problems that they have with global commerce. Product safety, intellectual property abuse, and currency concerns, just to name a few. But their reflexive solution to these problems is protectionism. And I’m here to say that this is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea.

To understand this, people just need to realize that tariffs are taxes. When we tax imports, we are increasing prices on ourselves. So if another country gets into a protectionist mood and increases tariffs on U.S. exports, it’s illogical for us to retaliate by increasing tariffs on their imports. Why should we stop enjoying lower priced goods just because another country has stopped themselves?

But what about losing jobs to other countries? People complain that we’ve lost 5 million jobs since 1989. My response is that competition will always create a dynamic environment. Jobs will be created, jobs will be lost. Rather than react by forcing ourselves to buy more expensive goods which will stifle growth and eventually lead to even fewer jobs, why don’t we simply lower all of the burdens that give other countries a competitive edge? Instead of blaming China and Mexico, let’s cut corporate taxes. Let’s cut capital gains taxes. Let’s repeal Sarbanes-Oxley. These pro-growth policies would unleash a surge of capital that would create new companies, new markets, and new jobs. And it would maintain the economic liberty we have of trading with our global partners.

When John Hawkins did one of his recent Rightosphere Temperature Checks, I was shocked to see a full 30% of the respondents (13 bloggers) state that NAFTA and CAFTA should be repealed. This is economic insanity.

As I said before, a lot of Democrats hate free trade. But they do so because of political reasons or they apply their economically weak arguments. Republicans — lawmakers and bloggers and voters alike — know better. Free trade is settled science. It’s pro-growth and it strengthens economic liberty. No well-adjusted Republican should ever be against it.

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