An ‘America First’ Trump Trade Policy

By Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan
Patrick J .Buchanan

USA –  -( Donald Trump's election triumph is among the more astonishing in history.

Yet if he wishes to become the father of a new “America First” majority party, he must make good on his solemn promise:

To end the trade deficits that have bled our country of scores of thousands of factories, and to create millions of manufacturing jobs in the USA.

Fail here, and those slim majorities in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin disappear.

The president-elect takes credit for jawboning William Clay Ford to keep his Lincoln plant in Louisville. He is now jawboning Carrier air conditioning to stay in Indiana and not move to Mexico.

Good for him. But these are baby steps toward ending the $800 billion trade deficits in goods America runs annually, or bringing back factories and creating millions of new manufacturing jobs in the USA.

The NAFTA Republicans tell us the plants and jobs are never coming back, that we live in a globalized world, that production will now be done where it can be done cheapest — in Mexico, China, Asia.

Yet, on Nov. 8, Americans rejected this defeatism rooted in the tracts of 19th-century British scribblers and the ideology of 20th-century globalists like Woodrow Wilson and FDR.

America responded to Trump's call for a new nationalism rooted in the economic principles and patriotism of Hamilton and the men of Mount Rushmore: Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt.

The president-elect has declared the TPP dead, and says he and his negotiators will walk away rather than accept another NAFTA.

Again, good, but again, not good enough, not nearly.

The New International Economic Order imposed upon us for decades has to be overthrown.

For the root cause of the trade deficits bleeding us lies in U.S. tax laws and trade policies that punish companies that stay in America and reward companies that move production overseas.

Executives move plants to Mexico, Asia and China for the same reason U.S. industrialists moved plants from the Frost Belt to the Sun Belt. Given the lower wages and lighter regulations, they can produce more cheaply there.

In dealing with advanced economies like Japan, Germany, and the EU, another critical factor is at work against us.

Since the Kennedy Round of trade negotiations, 50 years ago, international trade deals have reduced tariffs to insignificance.

But our trade rivals have replaced the tariffs with value-added taxes on imports from the USA. Even to belong to the EU, a country must have a VAT of at least 15 percent.

As Kevin Kearns of the U.S. Business and Industry Council writes, Europeans have replaced tariffs on U.S. goods with a VAT on U.S. goods, while rebating the VAT on Europe's exports to us.

Some 160 countries impose VAT taxes. Along with currency manipulation, this is how European and Asian protectionists stick it to the Americans, whose armed forces have defended them for 60 years.

We lose at trade negotiations, even before we sit down at the table, because our adversaries declare their VAT nonnegotiable. And we accept it.

Trump has to persuade Congress to deal him and our trade negotiators our own high cards, without our having to go to the WTO and asking, “Mother, may I?”

Like this writer, Kearns argues for an 18 percent VAT on all goods and services entering the United States. All tax revenue raised by the VAT — hundreds of billions — should be used to reduce U.S. taxes, beginning by ending the income tax on small business and reducing to the lowest rate in the advanced world the U.S. corporate income tax.

The price of foreign-made goods in U.S. stores would rise, giving a competitive advantage to goods made in America. And with a border VAT of 18 percent, every U.S. corporate executive would have to consider the higher cost of leaving the United States to produce abroad.

Every foreign manufacturer, to maintain free access to the U.S. market of $17 trillion, greatest on earth, would have to consider shifting production — factories, technology, jobs — to the USA.

The incentive to produce abroad would diminish and disappear. The incentive to produce here would grow correspondingly.

Inversions — U.S. companies seeking lower tax rates by moving to places like Ireland — would end. Foreign companies and banks would be clamoring to get into the United States.

With a zero corporate tax, minority businesses would spring up. Existing businesses would have more cash to hire. America would shove China aside as the Enterprise Zone of the world.

Most important, by having Americans buy more from each other, and rely more on each other for the necessities of life, U.S. trade and tax policies would work to create a greater interdependence among us, rather than pull us apart as they do today.

Why not write new tax and trade laws that bring us together, recreating the one nation and people we once were — and can be again?


Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.

  • 8 thoughts on “An ‘America First’ Trump Trade Policy

    1. You throw tariffs on them, they put on your products. Demand fair trade over free trade. But to do what Trump has said will ultimately cost more jobs than it creates. The world is going global and it really cannot be stopped for any length of time. It has to be properly managed, not ignored.

      1. The hell globalism can’t be stopped! We stopped the Nazis! We stopped the Land of the Rising Sun! We stopped the Cold War! We stopped North Korea! You want to lay any bets before I continue?

        1. I agree Greg, it only took one man to ruin the Clinton and Bush political machines. So socialism, communism, global collectivism or what ever one wants to call tyranny can, indeed, be stopped.

    2. I have been calling for this for years. The only ways to stop businesses from.moving is to make it more expensive to move than stay. All goods coming in to the US should cost more than the cost of the same goods produced in the US. Tax removal on small business and the like is a fantastic idea. With the current West Coast Wall push to raise minimum wages to $15/hr the small businesses need all the help they can get to stay afloat (bye bye pop up coffee shops, etc). With this push also comes higher cost of living, thus reducing the $15/hr to current, or lower, norms. Putting this money back into the hands of the people by paying more (based on economy not an arbitrarily inflated governmental regulation number) and continuing to increase wages, employing local and legal citizens, and producing local can only serve to drive our economy forward, rather than grind it to dust as a consumer only nation.

      Hopfully our Elect has the foresight to see this through in the face of global (and “progressive”) uproar and “sky is falling” predictions of doom.

      1. Aw shucks I thought the U.S. of A was the land of the free? You want a society where the government will hold a gun to peoples’ heads and tell who they will and won’t dead with?

        1. get real, Gil. We’re talking about REMOVING the guns to our head when dealing amongst ourselves here at home. Already gummint subsidies (farm, energy, minority, etc) are a gun to our heads. If biofuels were priced at the pump based on real cost of goods sold, and put into separate pumps, NO ONE would buy them.. they are inferior quality, damage engines and fuel system components, reduce fuel economy, and cost us millions….. all because of a government gun to our head FORCING those wretched products upon us who do not want/need them.

          One small example of thousands.

    3. Not a SINGLE mention of the silent removal of Quality Control / Quality Assurances in the goods and services HERE.G in The United States as well as abroad. Not only the lack of these disiciplines in the processes of goods and services, but the deceptive practices applied globally to skirt funds for these disciplines for other means, all under color of law!

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