‘Fair Trade’: Ted Cruz Rejects GOP Orthodoxy, Joins Jeff Sessions Populist Revolt

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - FEBRUARY 28: Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz makes a speech to supporters during a campaign rally February 28, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Cruz spoke of making America great again and upholding the Constitution. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ted Cruz
Mark Wilson/J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Presidential candidate Ted Cruz pledges to “stand up for fair trade” in a new state-wide Wisconsin ad hitting on international trade deals, a signature issue of frontrunner Donald Trump’s campaign.

“Free trade” is generally seen as a globalist policy in which restrictions on imports and exports are kept to an absolute minimum. “Fair traders,” on the other hand, argue that purely free trade can have negative consequences for the citizens of a particular country, especially when it comes to wages and employment opportunities for the lower and middle classes. They recommend that sovereign nations negotiate and implement trade deals that prioritize their own people first. This debate has been a centerpiece of the 2016 primary season as both political parties have seen populist factions revolt against their respective establishments over what they view as unfair free trade deals.

Cruz, speaking directly to the camera, says:

Wisconsin is a beautiful place where the people place solutions over slogans.

Our campaign is for the working moms, the truck drivers, the mechanics, and the machinists with calluses on their hands. It’s for the farmers and factory workers and the families who worry about prices going up while paychecks stay flat. It’s for the young people coming out of school unable to find a job.

We will repeal Obamacare, peel back the EPA, and all the burdensome regulations that are killing small businesses and manufacturing.

I’m going to stand up for fair trade, and bring our jobs back from China.

We will see wages going up. We’ll see opportunity again.

We’ll see a President who will stand with the people of Wisconsin, and Americans everywhere.

This is a signifiant change in policy and rhetoric for Cruz away from Republican party’s limitless trade orthodoxy.

Breitbart News reported in January:

Sen. Cruz “simply doesn’t have any trust in it– similar to not having trust in the Iran deal. He supports the concept of free trade,” [Rick] Tyler said. When asked if a President Cruz would implement the TPP as President, Tyler said he would not, “not in its current form.”

What’s more, the Texas Senator signals this shift just as the establishment consolidates around him heading into the pivotal Wisconsin primary. To add to the drama, the move was revealed in the back yard of Obamatrade champion and leader of the Republican establishment, House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is viewed as a key anti-Trump force in Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin, which has seen its middle class hit hard by the decline in manufacturing jobs, could prove fertile ground for Mr. Trump, who has defied Republican orthodoxy by opposing many trade deals, calling for high tariffs against China and railing against countries like Mexico and Japan that he says are taking away American jobs because of such agreements,” the New York Times’ Ashley Parker reported from Wisconsin this week. “Mr. Ryan, meanwhile, generally supports free trade. The issue could be particularly resonant in Janesville, where a General Motors plant once employed roughly 7,000 workers at its peak, but closed in 2009, after its workforce had declined to just 1,200 workers.”

Now it’s not just Trump but Cruz as well, hammering away at the trade policies Ryan supports.

Breitbart News reported last October on Sen. Jeff Sessions, the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), and the unpopularity of “free trade.” Sessions “led the populist revolt against fast-track and TPP,” the report read. Polls cited in the report indicate that “Republican voters—at higher rates than Democrats—think that free-trade agreements make U.S. wages lower, have resulted in job losses, and have hurt their household.”

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has been beating the drum of creating better trade deals along the campaign trail. He has taken a strong position against President Obama’s TPP deal. Sessions, who has endorsed Trump, has been a ardent voice pressing the Republican Party to be more nationalist.

Last September Trump appeared on 60 Minutes calling the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) a “disaster” and making the distinction between “fair trade” and “free trade.” Fellow 2016 candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich voted for NAFTA in 1993 during his time in the United States House of Representatives. As Breitbart News has reported, then-President Bill Clinton enacted NAFTA in 1994. President Barack Obama has been critical of that agreement but has pushed the TPP trade deal.

Cruz at one time supported TPA but later opposed it. Cruz penned a piece for Breitbart News in June of last year on his opposition to Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) in which he wrote, “There’s too much corporate welfare, too much cronyism and corrupt dealmaking, by the Washington cartel. For too long, career politicians in both parties have supported government of the lobbyist, by the lobbyist, and for the lobbyist – at the expense of the taxpayers. It’s a time for truth. And a time to honor our commitments to the voters.”

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 

Washington Political Editor Matthew Boyle contributed to this report.


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