If you had asked Democrats a decade ago what the soul of their party was, most would have said the working class. They don’t say that anymore.
Liberals for years marketed themselves as advocates for the blue-collar worker with a high school education, a union job, and the American dream. Nowadays, the Left has become obsessed with the socialism movement of cultural Marxists and the destruction of capitalism. In essence, the Democrat Party has lost its soul to the radical fringes of its base. And nowhere else is this trend more clearly illustrated than the Democrats’ most recent attack on President Trump’s increased tariff imposition.
For a half-century, America has ignored a growing trade imbalance with almost every international trading partner. Since the 1970’s the US has seen imports trending higher compared to exports except for small trade surpluses in 1998 to 2001. In 2018, our nation’s exports were valued at $2.5 trillion while our imports were valued at over $3.1 trillion, a deficit of over $600 billion. That equates to 3% of our GDP.
Over $400 billion of that deficit is from our trade with China, up from $34 billion in 1990. The bulk of the rest is from the Canada, Mexico, and the EU. Most of these nations’ businesses enjoy government subsidies and low labor costs. All of them levy substantial tariff taxes on most American goods and services while we levy much less or nothing on theirs. Thus, America’s appetite for cheaper foreign goods and services, although satisfying consumers, is taking jobs and higher wages from our workers. The great economy we are currently enjoying would be even more robust without the imbalance in tariffs.
While the Left has been more than happy to ostracize the American worker by ignoring tariffs, the Trump Administration has taken the opposite approach. The president has embraced workers in domestic commerce, defending our nation’s manufacturing from the corrosive policies of our international trade partners. As a professor of economics, I have long advocated free trade on a global scale. However, when other nations establish barriers to free trade, the US must respond in kind to remain competitive. Temporary declines in exports and imports due to our increased tariffs are a short-term price worth paying for an eventual level playing field that benefits both consumers and employees.
Here is one example. In 2018, the president approved relief for the U.S. appliance industry, specifically washing machines. After an independent investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) found that “US producers had been seriously injured by imports,” the president took action. He announced tariffs on foreign-produced washers to protect domestic manufacturers and, in effect, American workers.
Liberals were quick to try to delegitimize the president’s efforts to buttress America’s labor force. Last April, a trio of academics released a study attempting to demonstrate the economic harm caused by the president’s washer tariffs. Unfortunately for academia, the study was full of holes. The authors overlooked many glaring flaws to arrive at their preferred conclusion that the tariffs were harmful. Not only did the authors fail to consider the thousands of manufacturing jobs saved and created by the tariff, but they also failed to account for the more than 15,000 jobs indirectly supported by the president’s action.
President Trump’s administration is succeeding exactly where liberals have failed: in protecting America’s vulnerable blue-collar sector. While Democrats are increasingly content to advocate for socialist policies designed to attract the dependent segment of society, the president has shown his willingness to fight for the jobs of all Americans. It’s clear that Democrats in their push for social experimentation have forgotten about the American workers. Thankfully, President Trump hasn’t.