Exclusive– Daniel McCarthy on Tariffs: ‘The Republican Party Was Built on Economic Nationalism’

U.S. President Donald Trump signs a proclamation on adjusting imports of steel into the United States next to steel and aluminum workers in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, March 8, 2018. Trump signed the order over steel and aluminum tariffs that he …
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Daniel McCarthy, the editor of the conservative Modern Age, told hosts Matthew Boyle and Amanda House on Breitbart News Saturday that the “Republican party was built on economic nationalism.”

Boyle first discussed McCarthy’s op-ed in the New York Times, which makes the case for President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum as well as his “America First” economics.

McCarthy wrote in the New York Times:

For 25 years, free-trade orthodoxy has been a bipartisan consensus among America’s policy elite. Conservatives might editorialize about it more, but liberal presidents arguably advanced free trade the most, from Bill Clinton’s signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement to Barack Obama’s negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (George W. Bush, by contrast, put tariffs on steel, though he did so without the trade-war rhetoric that Mr. Trump has relished.) With his signing on Thursday of a tariff order, Mr. Trump appears once again to be setting himself against the mandarins of both parties.

McCarthy told Boyle and House that the economic nationalism was a pillar of the Republican party up until recent memory.

McCarthy told Breitbart News Saturday:

If we go back further than 30 years, we go back to the 19th century, the Republican party was built on economic nationalism and a party supported strong tariffs, people like President McKinley for example stand out as strong leaders of that. The Republican party has a long tradition of supporting American industry.

Reagan placed tariffs on Japanese motorcycles because he saw that Harley Davidson was a great brand and Japanese trade practices were unfair and sort of targeting the motorcycle industry,” The Modern Age editor explained. “Thanks to Ronald Reagan’s trade intervention, Harley-Davidson was saved from extinction.”

There was a lot of interest in saving the American auto industries back in the 1980s,” McCarthy added.

House asked McCarthy, “What of the establishment resistance against Trump’s tariffs?”

It’s predictable. It’s become a sort of religion for them,” McCarthy argued, “The amount of emotional turmoil they seem to feel at the notion of tariffs is just out of all proportions to the actual sort of role that tariffs are going to play.”

McCarthy continued:

It’s because they are very psychologically invested in a gloablist system, like an order of faith. When you start peeling away the sacred sacraments of the faith, like free trade, they start to have this sort of emotional desolation, they’re losing the things most dear to them.

McCarthy also explained that he believes that Congress has little “organizational capacity” to stop Trump from instituting his tariffs on aluminum and steel and that Congress also passed “fast track” legislation during Barack Obama’s presidency to give the president more power to negotiate trade deals.

Now the president is using his powers in a pro-American way,” McCarthy charged.

The Modern Age editor added, “You can tell by the amount of outrage that what he’s doing is innovative and is in a step in the right direction and that the usual suspects are vehemently against this.”

McCarthy continued arguing that “It’s ironic that free trade gets depicted as a component of capitalism and economic free enterprise because the biggest beneficiary of the last 25 years has been the People’s Republic of China.”

The Breitbart News Saturday guest countered the suggestion that tariffs simply amount to a tax on ordinary Americans, saying, “There are two sides to this. If you see a rise in consumer prices you also see a rise in wages, you see a rise in new industrial jobs.”

United States Steel announced on Wednesday that it will rehire 500 employees at its Granite City, Illinois, plant after President Trump announced that the U.S. would impose tariffs on foreign steel. 

A recent poll suggested that nearly 60 percent of American voters believe that imposing tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum remains crucial to America’s economic relationship with China.

McCarthy concluded, saying, “There are compensating advantages to economic nationalism in terms of national security as well as supporting a robust middle-class instead of just fetishizing cheapness.”

Breitbart News Saturday airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125  from 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. Eastern.


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