The Jan. 14 Republican presidential debate on Fox Business Channel was most interesting for its lively discussion on trade and immigration.
Donald Trump’s fear mongering on immigration and trade has fueled his popularity. But like most politicians, he is fighting the last war. Mexican immigrants have been self-deporting since 2011, without the help of Mitt Romney, simply because of the U.S. recession and more opportunities for good jobs in Mexico.
The real future of immigration lies not from Latin America, but Asia. Asians will supplant Latinos and African-Americans as the largest minority in the U.S. by 2050. Asians are usually conservative, college educated, ambitious and often discriminated against by affirmative action. Republicans need to stop immigrant bashing and make sure they do not make it harder for Asians to support them. They have already blown it with most minorities.
The Democrats are bad on trade and immigration, too. President Obama did nothing on immigration reform during his first term. Bernie Sanders and his union supporters are also leery of immigration and trade because they buy into the same simplistic, Trumpist arguments that immigrants and foreign competition “take away our jobs.” That’s bad economics.
Trump likes bashing China as well as Mexico. China devalued its currency last summer, but it is still the fourth strongest trading currency and has recently been given special drawing rights status by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The devaluation of the yuan made the dollar stronger—making our dollar stronger but our exports more expensive for the Chinese. That hurt American exporters. But the stronger dollar helps the American consumer. (It is also fueling a Bitcoin upsurge.) Is Trump really the traitor to his class he likes to portray himself as?
Jeb Bush must have taken a 5-hour Energy drink because he finally stood toe to toe with the Donald.
Bush torpedoed Trump’s plan to impose retaliatory tariffs on Chinese imports by pointing out that tariffs punish American consumers, not the Chinese.
Gov. Kasich rambled on about how he is for free trade but fair trade, so government has to make free trade fair, or something. Real free trade is always fair trade. If there is a willing buyer and a willing seller for a lawful, peaceful product, it is free and fair. If “free” trade is government subsidized, managed or restricted it is definitely not free, and not fair either. Fair trade can be voluntary, like “Fair Trade Coffee.” Businesses happily budget millions of dollars to lobby politicians to fix “unfair” trade or competition in hopes of seeing returns in government created market privileges worth hundreds of millions. Again, consumers suffer.
Sen. Rubio got it right when he said economic growth is the best solution to foreign competition. But Rubio himself is the sugar lobby’s bagman. Nevada Republicans should know Rep. Mark Amodei voted for the revival of the Import -Export Bank, the poster child for crony capitalism in 2015. Feel free to write on his wall!
Trump said the growth solution to trade disputes is not fast enough. For what? For the two- or four-year average political term in office? Or for his pals on Wall Street?
What was not discussed at all? The national debt and federal deficits. Are Republicans serious about reducing them?
If Republicans focus on cutting taxes, cutting government (including the bloated military) and repealing regulations, the resulting economic growth will benefit Americans of all classes and foreign firms who do business here as well.