Can I at least get another tax cut if we’re about to wage global thermonuclear trade war? We’re all gonna have to pay the Patriot Premium at the store once the retaliatory tariffs kick in and a little more in the paycheck would go a long way.
There has to be a simpler way to let Trump pick winners and losers among “real America’s” industries than a big trade brawl with China. Why not cancel the tariffs, hike taxes on Americans, and just hand out the extra revenue like candy to the steel industry? It’d be much cleaner administratively. A little Trump dividend for the Rust Belt, right out of your and my wallets, without the fuss and muss of tracking which goods are being taxed by who.
Per Pew, the GOP has now gone almost full MAGA on trade. It’s appropriate that Paul Ryan’s retiring this fall because between this, immigration, and entitlements, his vision for the party is deader than Ronald Reagan is.
Words can’t capture how disorienting it is to be Of A Certain Age and see self-defined conservatives as the most overwhelmingly protectionist group in politics and self-identified liberals as the most overwhelmingly free-trade. But it makes more sense when you dig deeper into the numbers and see the educational divide among whites. Among whites with college degrees, it’s 53/39 in favor of thinking tariffs are bad for America; among whites without such degrees, it’s 38/52 in favor of thinking they’re good. Blue-collar white America, the heart of Trump’s base and to a slightly lesser extent of the GOP’s, is convinced that protectionism will bring back their jobs.
As for the weird conservative/liberal split, that’s probably a straightforward case of partisanship defining ideological labels rather than the other way around. “Conservatism” here doesn’t represent anything having to do with smaller government or free markets, it’s a byword for support for Trump. For decades it’s been the philosophical currency of the Republican Party, Trump is now the head of the Republican Party, therefore it supposedly follows that the more one supports Trump, the more likely one is to be “conservative.” For liberals it’s the reverse. Naturally Trump supporters would be the most inclined to support his views on trade, just as Trump-haters are apt to be the most skeptical.
What’ll be fascinating is to see whether those labels, having been contaminated by short-term partisan preferences, will be redefined by it over time or whether they’ll straighten out once Trump has left the scene. What I mean is, if Bernie Sanders wins the presidency in 2020 and imposes his own protectionist policies, will Republicans be more inclined to support them having supported similar ones under Trump? (Yes, I’d guess, given those blue-collar numbers.) Will liberals be less inclined? Or will everyone revert to more traditional views of trade once those traditional views are aligned with their partisan interests again?
In lieu of an exit question, here’s one more reminder via YouGov that everything that’s important in politics now is very, very partisan.