Feehery: Biden has no trade agenda
President Biden doesn’t have a free trade agenda because he doesn’t believe in free trade.
If you wonder why prices continue to go up for consumers across the board, don’t discount Biden’s protectionist policies.
Standing up to China is all fine and dandy, but it comes at a considerable cost.
And that cost can be found in the credit card bills owned by virtually every consumer in the United States.
I am all for domestic manufacturing and am happy that those jobs are coming back to the United States. But we can’t escape the fact that American workers make a lot more money than workers in developing countries. We also have a costly regulatory state that adds to the cost of each product made in America.
Biden is a protectionist at heart. That is one reason why he hasn’t ended President Trump’s Chinese tariffs.
Biden has not lifted one finger to negotiate any free trade agreements with any other country. This includes Great Britain, which desperately wants such an agreement as it moves away from the European Union.
Expanded global trade is perhaps the biggest reason price increases have been held in check for the last 30 years. By promoting trade with former rivals like Vietnam, adversaries like China, neighbors like Mexico and allies like the European Union, South Korea and Japan, American consumers won the lottery. They got cheaper televisions, iPhones, clothes and Irish butter.
Free trade allowed these cheaper products, which in turn allowed the average American to live life like a global king. When you spend a smaller percentage of your daily budget on essentials, you can spend more of your budget on things like travel baseball for your kids (I speak from experience on that front).
Global trade isn’t just a winner for American consumers. It is also a winner for many, many American companies and workers, who have more customers for their products thanks to increased trade. This is not just the case for American farmers, although they typically reap the biggest rewards from expanded trade. This is also the case for airplane manufacturers, movie studios, car manufacturers and so many other American industries. More global customers means more American jobs.
Donald Trump understood the importance of global trade because many of his branded products were produced overseas, some even in China. But he wasn’t perfect on trade, and when he killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership – an Asian trade agreement meant to build a wall around China – he made a huge mistake.
But at least Trump had a trade agenda. He was able to get a good trade agreement with the South Koreans, and he continued to push for more favorable trade conditions for American manufacturers and American consumers.
Joe Biden has no trade agenda. He is the first president since before World War II to shy away from expanding global trade networks for American companies. He is beholden to trade unions, which in the past were virulently opposed to free trade. But Biden is living in the past, and his reflexive opposition to free trade is bad for American consumers and workers.
Free trade is not an ideology to be worshipped. And it really isn’t “free” trade. Instead, it is the product of hard negotiation, where special interests line up to either expand their ability to get their products bought free from international tariffs or fight to protect their industry from foreign interlopers.
When an American president stops fighting for open markets and open trade, the rest of the world takes note and reacts accordingly. They either conduct their own trade agreements that take advantage of America’s absence or they retreat to their own borders, raise tariffs and protect their own industries.
Neither result is good for American consumers.
Prices are going up for the American public because the costs of global trade have skyrocketed. Biden has done nothing to promote free trade, and the result is being felt by every consumer in America.
Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), as communications director to former House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).