Did you know?

The Patriot Post is funded 100% by its readers, avoiding the influence advertisers and special interest groups impose on other publications. Help us stay front and center in the fight for Liberty and support the 2020 Year-End Campaign.

David Harsanyi / Apr. 21, 2017

Trump's 'Buy American. Hire American' Policy Is Dangerous Nonsense

"We don't have a level playing field for our workers," President Donald Trump told a group of workers in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday. Truth is, if we were to ever level the playing field with countries like Mexico and China, the average American worker would be making $3 an hour and spending their pittance on third-world health care and decrepit housing. Please, don't level the playing field.

“We don’t have a level playing field for our workers,” President Donald Trump told a group of workers in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday. Truth is, if we were to ever level the playing field with countries like Mexico and China, the average American worker would be making $3 an hour and spending their pittance on third-world health care and decrepit housing. Please, don’t level the playing field.

When few things are going your way in politics, though, it’s customary to return to rhetoric that made you successful. So, as Republicans have been unable to push forward on health care reform or tax reform — or anything not named Neil Gorsuch, for that matter — it is unsurprising that Trump would turn to protectionism as a way to bolster his political fortunes.

On Tuesday, the president traveled to a tool manufacturing company in Wisconsin and threw some nationalistic bromides at a blue-collar crowd (none of which included the words “I’m afraid some of your jobs will be taken by robots in the future”), and then signed an executive order ordering the White House to look into ways to curb guest worker visa programs and require government agencies to buy more goods and services from American companies.

For the past two years, over 200,000 foreigners applied for open positions each year. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services holds a lottery and gives out 85,000 H-1B visas to high-skilled foreign workers. It’s a program that’s most popular with the tech industry, due to a shortage of Americans trained in science and engineering. I suppose it’s a lot easier to stop talented immigrants from entering the country than to find ways to incentivize Americans to become math majors.

Over the past couple of decades, a high number of immigrants (which many H-1B visa holders become) have been part of innovations and start-ups that have created jobs for American workers. Now, even if you don’t believe immigrants add economic value, how exactly is cutting down on high-tech visas going to help rehabilitate the economically depressed areas of the nation?

Moreover, it seems telling that many of those who are concerned about illegal immigration also seem intent on lowering numbers of legal and potentially high-achieving immigrants from entering the country. The underlying message is that there is a cultural problem, not merely an economic one. “When two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think …” White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said not long ago in a jumbled explanation of economic nationalism, “a country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.”

The second part of the order cuts down on waivers and exemptions to President Herbert Hoover’s Buy American law. It instructs agencies to use American-made goods and services rather than saving taxpayer dollars or searching out the best deals they can. This is how we incentivize rent-seeking and cronyism. Until a couple of months ago, this is what Republicans used to call “picking winners and losers.” If you thought General Motors shouldn’t be bailed out because it couldn’t compete in a global marketplace, why would you support a state-impelled “Buy American. Hire American” when it comes to steel, for example?

In a political sense, the idea of “Buy American. Hire American” is much like fighting climate change: a comforting government-prescribed solution that people embrace in theory but rarely in practice. In the protectionist’s universe, everyone with a Samsung cellphone or a Toyota Camry (both the best-selling brands in their categories) would be a traitor to the American worker. In the real world, competition allows us to buy the best products at the cheapest prices — and then buy more things with the money we save. The rules of economics don’t give us waivers for being American.

How damaging will Trump’s trade agenda be? Who knows? Despite the protestations of the Left — and its eight-year weakening of constitutional restrictions on executive power — Trump’s power has always been curbed by the realities of the job. But protectionism is one area where he could find willing partners in both parties.

Protectionism, after all, is where Trump is most comfortable and effective. It’s the issue that made him, the issue he is most coherent about and the issue with which he has shown the most ideological affinity. Because of its political potency, it has also seen converts, not only among blue-collar Americans but also one-time free-market conservatives.

“Buy American,” an appealing and patriotic-sounding solution, is popular across ideological lines. The protectionist impulses of the progressive Left — the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wing — closely align with Trump once the cultural aspects are stripped away. In American politics, both parties seem to have warmed to the idea that we can regulate the country into economic growth. The biggest risk is that protectionist rhetoric will be normalized within the GOP, which means there will be two parties with significant factions embracing mercantilism. How long will it be before that kind of support manifests in truly destructive legislation?

COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2020 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.