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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Reagan and free trade

I like being lectured on Trump not being Reagan. Of course he is not. None of them are. But invoking Reagan on free trade is rather foolish.

Matt Drudge just linked a New York Times article from 1983 which proves this.

From the New York Times:
In an unusually strong protectionist action, President Reagan today ordered a tenfold increase in tariffs for imported heavyweight motorcycles.
The impact of Mr. Reagan's action, which followed the unanimous recommendation of his trade advisers, is effectively limited to Japanese manufacturers, which dominate every sector of the American motorcycle market.
The action was exceptional for protecting a single American company, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company of Milwaukee, the sole surviving American maker of motorcycles.
The only comparable trade action by this Administration, the President's decision last May to impose quotas on sugar imports for the first time since 1974, was aimed at an entire industry.
''We're delighted,'' said Vaughn L. Beals, Harley-Davidson's chairman. ''It will give us time that we might otherwise not have had to make manufacturing improvements and bring out new products.''
But it brought angry reaction today from Japanese officials and a threat to file unfair-trade charges against the United States in Geneva.
''We consider it unfortunate that the American side decided to take this kind of drastic measure,'' said Hiroshi Ota, counselor for public affairs at the Japanese Embassy here. He added that Japan was considering taking a formal protest of the action to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
Trump has called for similar action.


  1. Don't forget this, too, Mr.Surber:

    The GOP had a long, storied, history of protectionism, and the only reason it's seen as a dirty word nowadays is because the party has been captured by the investment banks and (many, but not all--see GE and Intel) multinationals.

  2. One hardly need to remind that one of Reagan's first acts in the White House was to put up a bust of Calvin Coolidge, who was a trade protectionist also. Protectionism is like any other policy. It is a tool which can serve specific needs. If the diplomat does not have tools in his kit by choice he deprives himself of the opportunity to perform certain tasks and ends being a handicapped statesman, forced into situations where he is putting aware pegs into round holes.

  3. How dare him! How dare an American politician to put forward the interests of working class citizens over financial class citizens and foreigners!


    You know, if this stuff keeps up everyone will be faced with something a lot worse than Trump. There is only so many times you can dip the bucket into the well of civility before coming up dry.

    - Mikey NTH

  4. Very happy to see the free trade issue re-visited this election season. I've long been a free-trade skeptic but still fall on the right side of the political aisle. I've felt like an outcast in my own party, sitting in a corner reading Pat Buchanan books, while everyone cheers the destruction of our manufacturing base.

  5. When trade protections are carefully targeted and properly applied they can be a good thing. When used as a blanket cure-all for many ills and applied haphazardly they are not a good thing. One example: do we want to outsource all or parts of our defense industry to China or Russia just because it's cheaper? - Elric

  6. I believe free trade is another way to redistribute the wealth. Unlike taxes and welfare or insurance and obamacare which redistributes wealth internally, free trade allows or forces us to redistribute our wealth internationally.