The left-leaning Huffington Post published an article which seems concerned that Donald Trump could defeat Hillary Clinton in a general election contest due to his strong position on trade.
In a Friday piece entitled, “Hillary Must Toughen Up On Trade In Case She Is Nominee Against Trump,” Dave Johnson, a fellow at Campaign for America’s Future, writes:
If Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee she had better get tough on trade – and mean it. One of Donald Trump’ main elements of appeal to his voters – if not the main appeal – is his stance on trade and bringing jobs back to America. It is a winning message and Clinton is waaaayyyy behind the curve on this.
“Much of Trump’s campaign message is about how our country’s trade deals have wiped out jobs. On Day 1 much of his speech announcing that he was running was about trade,” Johnson writes.
By contrast, Johnson says that Clinton “has a credibility problem on trade.” Johnson explains that, unlike Clinton, Trump is not dependent upon donor class elites who want more globalist trade pacts:
America’s well-to-do elites think everything is going fine. Their stock portfolios are way up, so they’re feeling good. They’re writing op-eds about how well things are going and how our corporate paradigm is doing so well for us and the world. The elite “donor class” is giving huge sums to “continuity” politicians. This is elites talking to other elites and not at all hearing what is going on in the country.
Donald Trump is not dependent on this donor class and he is saying that things are not fine, that wages are not going up, that jobs are hard to find, that trade is killing us. So people for whom things are not going fine, for whom jobs are hard to find, for whom wages are not going up and who trade is killing are listening. And that is most people in the U.S…
Clinton has a credibility problem on trade. Almost no one believes her…
“Pro-trade” voters vote for her. “Pro-trade” donors continue to give the max to her campaign. In fact, this hedging [i.e. Clinton’s hedging on trade] has left the donor and corporate class believing she is on their side, that she supports the “free trade” agenda that has killed off so many jobs, factories, entire industries, entire regions and left us with enormous, humongous trade deficits year after year after year – while making a very few at the top wealthy beyond belief.”
Johnson explains that Clinton is “leaving herself room to appeal to the donor and corporate class,” but warns that “if Clinton ‘moves to the center’ on trade after the convention, as business and donor community believes she will, she risks losing those voters who feel that these trade agreements have ruined their lives, their towns, their regions and their country.”
Johnson wonders whether these voters will “turn to Trump” over Hillary.
The liberal author explains that Trump’s economic message on immigration and trade has been at the center of his successful campaign platform:
Trade and jobs are at the center of Trump’s appeal. He rightly says China is killing us on trade and taking jobs, and people listen. He wrongly says that immigrants are taking people’s jobs, but people believe it and people listen. But it’s all jobs, jobs, jobs, and it’s a powerful message.
The author’s statement — dismissing Trump’s economic message on immigration offhand — represents a recent development for the left, which had previously acknowledged that mass migration harms the wages of workers.
In fact, American Federation of Labor (AFL) founder and president Samuel Gompers once said, “Those who favor unrestricted immigration care nothing for the people.”
The economic principle here is fairly straightforward: just as when American manufacturing workers are forced to compete with lower-wage Vietnamese workers outside the country, it creates a downward pressure on wages, if you bring in millions of low-wage workers to compete throughout the U.S. economy, it has the same wage-depressing effect on the workers against whom they are competing. The only difference is that when those foreign workers are brought into the United States, their lower wages are subsidized by welfare paid for by American taxpayers, and the imported foreign workers are given benefits such as free education for their children, and the ability to vote in U.S. elections.
In fact, so recent is the left’s abandonment of its former position on immigration that only a few years ago Bernie Sanders himself — prior to his adopting the new left’s immigration platform to run for President — acknowledged the harmful effects of migration on U.S. workers. In 2007, the pre-conversion Sen. Sanders explained his opposition to the McCain-Kennedy immigration agenda in a piece entitled, “CEO-Backed Immigration Bill Would Depress U.S. Wages”:
What most concerns me about this [immigration] legislation are the provisions that would bring low-wage workers into this country in order to depress the wages of American workers, which are already in decline. With poverty increasing and the middle-class shrinking, we must not force American workers into even more economic distress. The CEOs who want this bill aren’t even embarrassed by their hypocrisy. One day they shut down plants with high-skilled, well-paid American workers, and move to China where they pay desperate people 50 cents an hour. The next day, they have the nerve to come before the U.S Congress and tell us that they can’t find skilled workers to do the jobs that they need. Give me a break.
Donald Trump is the only candidate in the race who has pledged that he would use tariffs to cancel out Chinese currency manipulation and has pledged to reduce migration.