President Donald Trump’s 100-day accomplishments on trade are huge and fundamental — yet also incomplete and short of his campaign promises.
Once inaugurated, President Trump quickly killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which would have pushed 330 million Americans into a Pacific-wide, ever-expanding, trade-and-government regime that would have gradually shackled Americans’ freedom to make their laws, to control migration and to keep their living standards.
Killing TPP is Trump’s first huge success, says Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government. He gets an A+ for killing TPP, and “everything else is nuance in the weeds,” he said.
But the “everything else” includes some very big weeds, including Trump’s campaign promise to hit China for currency manipulation and also to withdraw or reform the NAFTA trade deal.
Trump has also made a second fundamental change by showing that he wants his supporters to help him cut those weeds and to fight the “swamp creatures” in D.C., says Manning. Under former President Barack Obama’s progressive administration, the public had no power to change Obama’s determined push towards a corporatist world government built on wealth-shifting globalist trade deals.
But in Trump’s nationalist administration, Trump and the public are both focused on Americans’ interests. Also, Trump is promising to conduct narrow, comprehensible country-to-country trade deals. Those shifts away from globalism means ordinary Americans can play a huge role in shaping national trade policy by marching, protesting, shouting, and voting, said Manning.
Of course, Wall Street, business interests, and purchased politicians are also pushing for one-sided deals which help them. “Everyday, Donald Trump looks the swamp creatures in the eye, and he needs the people who supported him to be there fight with him side-by-side … he wants his supporters to be fighting alongside him, and he needs them,” said Manning.
Every day, every politician needs to be reminded of their promises. That’s the system of government we have, and it is the only chance the people have in the real world to overcome the the swamp in the DC. I think [Trump] was sincere in his promises, I think he wants to be reminded about those promises, and in all sincerity, he wants to know if he’s disappointing people.
On NAFTA, Trump announced during the campaign that he would “I’m going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers.” This week, he started that process – and he will be helped if his supporters keep the up pressure on Washington for fixes to NAFTA.
Even when Trump has broken his lesser campaign promises, there are excuses, rationalizations, side-deals and offsets.
For example, Trump promised to shove back against China’s low-priced exports by declaring the country to be a treaty-violating currency manipulator. He’s backtracked on that promise, but maybe will get valuable concessions from China to help suppress the North Korean crisis, Manning said.
In 2015, Trump slammed the Export-Import Bank of the United States, saying:
I don’t like it. I think it’s a lot of excess baggage. I think it’s unnecessary. And when you think about free enterprise, it’s really not free enterprise.
In April, announced he would nominate one of the bank’s critics as the new chief. The critic is New Jersey Rep. Scott Garrett. “It is a mistake to continue it … [but that new manager is] why my blood does not boil,” said Manning.
Voters should recognize Trump’s huge achievement in trade — and then use their new power to keep pressing for more gains, said Manning, who continued:
This is a unique guy … he’s the kind of guy when he was young in the construction business, he would walk around his construction sites … he’d sit down and talk to the welders and the guys with hammers in their hands and he’d spend time with them and enjoy it. When he thinks about who he is trying to represent, I think it is a guy wearing a hard hat on a construction site. As [trade] policies are developed, those guys and others around the country who really understand the negative impact of these trade deals on their lives need to stay vocal and engaged and to keep telling the president and their legislators in Congress that this needs to change.