Hillary: How she should handle Free Trade/Job losses issue with Trump
Hillary should be forthright and center stage on the issue of free trade and job losses. In our last blog we suggested that this was an enormous challenge, but one that she must meet. The challenge is compounded by the complexity of the economics involved–I suggested that it would take two graduate seminars to comprehend–and I promised a shortened statement of the problems and offer solutions. The couple of minutes usually allowed for presentations in the debates require this method of dealing with the issue. She must emphasize her recognition of the seriousness of the problem upfront and she can elaborate in rebuttals and follow-up questions. And on the stump she can focus on its individual parts: Here’s how she can deal with the issue successfully:
The free trade agreements that started under Bill, and continued under successive administrations, both Republican and Democratic, have increased exports, lowered costs to consumers, created many jobs BUT it has created job losses a well and we MUST find solutions for those workers affected. My administration will make this a top priority.
First of all, let’s briefly examine the problem. China, India and the emerging nations, have the fastest growing economies, therefore offer great markets. Our penetration of these is essential for the U.S. economy to remain relevant in the coming years. Just as Honda and Toyota and other foreign automakers built factories in the U.S. and hired American workers to staff them in order to penetrate our market, we must do similarly to penetrate their markets. If we fail to do so, and do it early and aggressively, we will fall dangerously behind Europeans and other competitors in positioning ourselves for those markets–and this will raise costs to consumers and cost us jobs for decades to come. But Free Trade is not all pluses. It will, and has already, displaced workers, some in relatively high paying manufacturing jobs. We must come to the aid of these workers. At the top of my priority list is a new Globalization and Displaced Workers Act and the creation of a cabinet position to deal with this ongoing problem and to work with Congress to pass it. We must do this in order to help the displaced workers to be retrained to meet jobs of the 21st Century and provide them with a financial safety net until they are retrained. And we must help the businesses involved by grants and tax incentives to modernize in order to be more competitive and employ the retrained workers. If this cannot be done, the government must provide incentives for business to come in their place. The problem is one of national interest and it requires a national solution.
The 21st Century is one of economic change, just look at your children glued to a smart phone that provides instant answers and amazingly interactive games that employ virtual reality techniques (though truthfully I don’t approve of the suitability of many of them for our children). Similarly, the 21st Century economy is marked by a period of rapid growth by emerging nations and the resultant globalization and international trade agreements that allow nations to penetrate their markets. Nothing can change this over the long run, and to stick our heads in the sand and try to insulate the United States from participating in this new economy is to court economic disaster.
The difference between Donald Trump and myself is that he identifies the problem, but instead of rallying the nation behind a program to deal with it, he wants to break-up our alliances, impose tariffs that will trigger a trade war, and produce the worst depression in modern times. You are offered a clear choice.