Following the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s attacks against the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump fired back—blasting the Chamber’s opposition to his trade agenda as “sinister.”
Trump declared that the Chamber of Commerce is “controlled” by special interests that push for trade deals that will devastate American workers. He also told his audience that the special interests who run the Chamber of Commerce “don’t care about you whatsoever.”
The Chamber of Commerce’s opposition to Donald Trump’s agenda is significant. Trump noted during his campaign rally, the Chamber of Commerce generally supports the Republican Party. However, this year the Chamber seems to have more policies in common with Hillary Clinton on two of the most significant issues of the election—trade and immigration—than it does with presumptive Republican nominee.
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is totally controlled by the special interests groups,” Trump said during his Wednesday rally in Bangor, Maine. “They’re a special interest that want to have the deals that they want to have. They want to have TPP—Trans Pacific Partnership. It’ll be the worst deal since NAFTA. It’ll drive the rest of your businesses out of Maine, believe me. It‘ll be the worst deal since NAFTA.”
Trump explained that the Chamber does not care about the working men and women of the United States. The Chamber is “controlled totally by various groups of people that don’t care about you whatsoever,” Trump told the audience.
Trump described that the Chamber of Commerce’s opposition to his desire to make better trade deals for American workers as “pretty sinister”.
“Why would anyone be against what I’m saying?” Trump asked. “Because here’s what I’m saying: we have to make great deals for our country…. What I really want is very simple: I want to make great deals for our public, I want to make great deals for the United States… I want to bring jobs back to our country, I want to bring money back to our country, I want to get rid of the deficit, I want to start paying off debt, and they’re against it. “
“All I’m saying basically is: ‘I want to make a better deal,’” Trump added. “Why are they against that? They don’t want us to make a better deal? They don’t want us to have more jobs? They don’t want us to make some money? […] Why would the United States Chamber of Commerce say we should leave everything the way it is when I can make a better deal? […] I don’t understand it. I mean, if you think about it, it’s pretty sinister.”
Trump also criticized President Obama for having abandoned his campaign promises in order to appease these special interest groups. “We know how bad NAFTA is [which was] signed by Clinton, and they don’t do anything about it,” Trump said. “Obama said he was going to do something about it. He doesn’t do anything about it. And the reason is that the special interests will not let him do anything about it. It’s very simple, folks.”
Trump rejected the claims that his trade policy would somehow jeopardize free trade or would start a trade war—explaining that the U.S. is already in a trade war and is losing.
If you have a country where you have a deficit of hundreds of billions of dollars a year forever, it’s going to get worse, then they say we’re going to lose a trade war? We’re already losing the trade war, folks! We lost the trade war. We keep getting killed. There’s nothing that could happen that’s worse than what’s happening now. We’re getting killed. We’re getting killed… when China devalues their currency—ever notice that they’re at 7% GDP [growth]. We’re at nothing. It’s hard to be at nothing, but we’re at almost nothing. We have a real unemployment rate that is sky high… we have so many people that can’t get a job.
Trump similarly dismissed the idea that “free trade” is “the conservative way.” Trump explained that there is nothing conservative about crafting bad trade deals that allow millions of U.S. jobs to be shipped overseas.
I am a conservative. I’m more conservative than they are in many ways. But they think, see, to be a conservative you have to want free trade. But if this country is being drained of its jobs and its money because we have stupid people making bad deals— and in some cases, smart people who are basically corrupt making bad deals for us… then what I want to do is I want to correct that situation.
In particular, Trump took aim at the “stupid people” who seem to argue that there should be no consequences for foreign trading partners engaging in illicit trading practices. Trump said that under a Trump administration, “any country that devalues their currency in order to take advantage of the United States will be dealt with very, very sharply and swiftly. And sadly, that will include tariffs and taxes for their goods coming in—I’m sorry, folks. That’s what we have to do. That’s what we have to do. You know some of the stupid people said, ‘Oh, he’s going to charge tariffs or taxes to China.’ Well, let me tell you. If they devalue their currency… we have to protect ourselves… There have to be consequences.”
Ironically, conservative commentators, such as Mark Levin, who emotionally warn against Trump’s trade agenda, are now in a position of promoting the trade agenda of the Chamber of Commerce– an agenda whose greatest champions have been Bill and Hillary Clinton.
As Trump explained during his Wednesday rally, NAFTA was Bill Clinton’s “baby.” Hillary Clinton supported NAFTA, the WTO, and China’s entrance into the WTO. Reports have similarly documented Hillary Clinton promoting the TPP on 45 separate occasions.
The Chamber of Commerce similarly shares Hillary Clinton’s views on immigration. The Chamber of Commerce was a vocal supporter of Marco Rubio’s 2013 amnesty and immigration expansion plan, which Hillary Clinton supports as well. As New York Magazine’s Ryan Lizza has previously reported, Rubio and other members of the Gang of Eight essentially gave the Chamber of Commerce a free hand to craft the bill’s expansive guest worker provisions. The bill would have doubled the number of guest workers admitted to compete for American jobs. In 2013, the Chamber of Commerce spent $50 million trying to pass amnesty and common core. In 2014, Tom Donahue, the President of the Chamber of Commerce, said that if the Republican party doesn’t pass so-called immigration reform—by which he meant amnesty and mass increases in immigration– “they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016.”
Hillary Clinton has touted the fact that she shares essentially the same immigration agenda as the Chamber of Commerce. At a December address at the National Immigrant Integration Conference, Clinton said: “We could add hundreds of billions of dollars to our GDP by passing comprehensive immigration reform, which is why people across the political spectrum from labor unions to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supported the 2013 senate bill.”
In contrast to Clinton and the Chamber of Commerce’s expansive immigration agenda that will drive down wages for American workers, Donald Trump has pledged to enforce U.S. immigration law and deport those residing in the country illegally.
Similarly, Trump has made clear his desire to renegotiate trade deals in order to get a better deal for American workers. During his Wednesday rally in Maine, Trump outlined some of his specific trade policies:
Number one, I’m going to withdraw the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership, which has not yet been ratified and which is a total disaster. Number two, I’m going to appoint the toughest and smartest trade negotiators to fight on behalf of the American workers and the American people. Number three, I’m going to direct the Secretary of Commerce to identify every violation of trade, all of the agreements that a foreign country is currently using to harm our workers…. I will then direct all appropriate agencies to use every tool under the American and international laws to end these abuses… Number four… I’m going to tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers… if they do not agree to a renegotiation then I will submit notice under article 2205 of the NAFTA agreement that American intends to withdraw from the deal. No more NAFTA. [Thunderous applause and cheers from the audience]. No more NAFTA. No more NAFTA.