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The Republicans’ Protectionist Pedigree

10 12 6

CAMBRIDGE – US President Donald Trump’s aggressive approach to trade, which was on stark display at last week’s G7 summit in Quebec, has elicited widespread derision. Critics point out that his tariffs hurt the domestic economy – by raising costs for consumers and producers, and reducing foreign sales of farmers and other exporters – while undermining America’s relationships with its own allies. But there is one point that many observers get wrong: contrary to popular belief, Trump’s tariffs are not an unprecedented departure from historical Republican orthodoxy.

Jun 13, 2018 Joseph E. Stiglitz worries that the next currency crisis will meet the same rigid and feckless German response as the last.

Jun 11, 2018 Elizabeth Drew thinks President Trump's recent assertions of quasi-monarchical power reflect his growing desperation.

Jun 6, 2018 Minxin Pei worries that the US lacks the leadership needed to manage a geopolitical rivalry.

True, in recent decades Republican politicians have tended to embrace free trade more willingly than Democrats. But during most of the first century after its founding in 1854, the Republican Party was protectionist in both word and deed. Like their predecessors, the Whigs, Republicans favored high import tariffs in order to advance the economic interests of manufacturers in the Northeast who feared competition from Europe.

The Democrats, by contrast, represented agriculture-exporting states, and thus favored trade. As Douglas Irwin makes clear in his history of US trade policy,........

© Project Syndicate