Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the intellectual leader of the modern conservative movement and the catalyst behind much of the rise of nationalist populism in this election cycle, told Breitbart News exclusively that he thinks there’s much about 2016 GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump for voters to like when it comes to the issue of trade negotiations.
While Sessions is, again, not officially endorsing anyone in the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, his top aide Stephen Miller, the Washington Post reported on Monday afternoon, is joining Trump’s presidential campaign as a senior policy adviser.
Miller has been critical to Sessions’ efforts fighting open borders immigration plans and amnesty for illegal aliens pushed by the political establishment, and equally critical to Sessions’ key role in the war against open borders trade policies pushed by political elites.
The issue of trade roared to the front of the political mindset last year when President Barack Obama joined forces with Speaker of the House-to- be Paul Ryan and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to ram through Congress Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)—which is a fast track program that greases the skids for easy passage of a multitude of globalist trade deals critical to Obama’s legacy.
Those trade deals include the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). The TPA plan helps the establishment’s efforts to ram the deals through, as it lowers the vote threshold in the Senate from 60 votes to 51 votes and kills the ability for Congress to amend deals. If ratified these trade deals, collectively, along with fast track authority known as Obamatrade, would bind the United States to several new global commissions, effectively barreling the U.S. away from sovereignty when it comes to economic plans, Sessions says, towards a European Union-style global leadership.
Sessions, who is standing up for American workers on this issue, told Breitbart News that the reason nobody on Capitol Hill or in the political class—save for Trump—really seems to be fighting this is “complicated,” because the polling data so clearly shows Americans are widely opposed to these types of trade deals. Sessions said:
It’s complicated but fundamentally the United States—and Wall Street, and the Wall Street Journal and the trading centers and like London and Tokyo and Hong Kong—they have this ideal of ‘free trade. They has never been a trade agreement they haven’t supported. It’s sort of become conventional wisdom that Republicans push for free trade agreements, although Republican voters are more hostile in general to it than Democratic voters are according to polling. But we think we know better. What our trading partners—particularly our allies, but our aggressive pacific trading partners—they have aciduously worked to use to those rules to gain an advantage and to increase their exports to the United States while decreasing our exports to their country. And we’ve done nothing about it. We’ve not responded in any effective way. Working people get it—and they’re not happy. That’s part of the clarity of Trump’s position on all this—although I don’t think I would share everything he says about trade, but fundamentally the fact that we’re being taken advantage of is costing Americans jobs and weakening America. [On that, Trump] is right on. I think people have instinctively felt that and that’s been a source of his support.
One of the key areas of trade policy on which Trump has particularly zoned in is currency manipulation—where other nations proactively devalue their currency to increase exports and decrease imports, therefore artificially creating an employment boom in their country while driving unemployment up and wages down in the country on the receiving end of their economic abuses. Sessions noted that the United States has certainly not been doing enough to fight back against this on the world stage.
Sessions told Breitbart News:
There is absolutely no doubt that if a nation acts to devalue its currency, contrary to what market forces would allow, then that country can export more products to the United States and the United States is going to be able to export less products to that country. In other words, it makes their products cheaper in the United States and it makes our products more expensive when they’re exported. This is a known and indisputable fact and if you watch financial pages regularly they talk about the stocks of companies falling because they’re facing wayward currency—stock values of American companies falling—because they’re exporting in a market where our currency is rising and other currencies are falling. China has already devalued its currency 6 percent this year and I’ve heard people say they may do 20 percent or more. When you do that, when you increase your ability to export, then you create employment in your country and you export unemployment to the United States.
When TPA was being rushed through Congress last year—originally with the support of both Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), although Cruz later turned against it on a second go-around in the Senate—Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) put forward an amendment that would have blocked currency manipulation by China and Japan and other nations in trade deals. That amendment was crushed by pro-Obamatrade forces. Sessions says that means there are no “protections of reality” when it comes to currency policy, putting Americans at grave risk, depending on the outcome of the presidential election.
Sessions went on to say:
So this is a very real matter and we fought and it was debated and it came up and the currency language that would bar this currency manipulation was blocked and never passed. It passed, but it passed on a bill that the president could veto. It never passed on this legislation. So we don’t have any currency protections of reality. The Portman amendment would have really been helpful against currency manipulation but it was defeated. So in effect we have a unilateral disarmament. They can manipulate their currency, they can subsidize their businesses, they can target American manufacturing and our government throws out ‘free market, free market, free market’ while our determined mercantilist competitors are calculatedly damaging America, American workers’ families and their ability to have a job.
The decision that lays before voters in Iowa in just seven days, voters in New Hampshire eight days later, and South Carolina a couple weeks after that, couldn’t be clearer according to Sessions—who, again, just had his top aide Stephen Miller join the Trump campaign. Sessions noted that Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential nominee, fought for American workers on this issue in the 2012 GOP presidential primary but abandoned it in the general election. That’s why he believes it’s so important that Trump – should he or anyone else who’s tough against currency manipulation win the nomination—continue to discuss the matter when they face off against whomever the Democrats nominate, which is still expected to most likely be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sessions said:
We have got to decide: Are we going to have manufacturing in this country or not? If these economies can manipulate currency, and otherwise block our exports in non-tariff ways to their country then we are on a path to unilateral disarmament,” Sessions said. “Now, Romney laid it out in the primaries when he ran—and he failed to talk about it in November when it could have led him to victory unconvinced. But he said in the primaries that we’re in a trade war, we’re just not fighting. If you don’t stand up to China, they’ll run over you. They say if you stand up to China it’ll cause a trade war. But we’re in a trade war, we’re just not fighting. One more thing that Romney said that was critically important and he said that anyway, they have more to lose than we do. When we negotiate with our trading partners, we’ve got the leverage. They lust for our markets. They desire above all else to export to the United States and get high dollar in return. If they don’t play by the rules, we can buy products from other places—we don’t have to buy them from China or Japan or any other country for that matter if they’re not playing by the rules. Now if you get in a big trading agreement, we can’t make that decision. We’ve got to take it to this commission, and every country has the same vote. Japan or China, if they’re in it, or Korea’s in it or Vietnam’s in it, they can vote and block us from being able to confront and push back. The United States cannot put itself in a position where it is unable to retaliate against countries that deliberately and systematically violate trade rules.
This is the second part of Sessions’ 45-minute-long exclusive interview on trade policy with Breitbart News ahead of the Iowa caucuses. In the first part, Sessions laid out how Republicans must nominate a presidential candidate who can “negotiate better” on the world stage. More from the interview is forthcoming.
Again, Sessions hasn’t formally endorsed any candidate, but he has appeared with Trump at a rally in his hometown in Mobile, Alabama, and helped Trump craft his wildly popular immigration reform policy paper.