Conservative leader says next president can't abandon free trade

Conservative leader says next president can't abandon free trade
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The head of a leading conservative group said the United States would be at risk for a major economic downturn if the next president abandons free trade.

David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth, said the trade policy of either a Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: Trump's exclusive interview with Hill.TV | Trump, intel officials clash over Russia docs | EU investigating Amazon | Military gets new cyber authority | Flynn sentencing sparks new questions about Mueller probe READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV Keeping up with Michael Avenatti MORE or a Donald Trump administration could shock the U.S. economy and make a recovery nearly impossible.  

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“Abandoning free trade really isn’t an option,” McIntosh said on C-SPAN’s "Newsmakers" set to air on Sunday. 

There is "no amount of stimulus" that would revive the economy if Trump or Clinton were to dump free trade agreements in their respective administrations, he said. 

The Republican nominee has said he would renegotiate or pull the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement as well as the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). 

The New York businessman said this week during several rallies that he would slap a 35 percent tariff on goods made by companies that leave the United States for other countries.

“When I’m president, when a company wants to fire their workers and leave for Mexico or other countries then we will charge them a 35 percent tax when they want to ship their products back into the United States,” he said during the rally in Ohio on Thursday. 

Clinton, who once supported the TPP but changed her mind to appease labor unions and other groups backing her campaign, has said she opposes passing the Asia-Pacific deal in the lame-duck session after the November elections and after she takes office. 

President Obama is urging Congress to pass the TPP deal before the end of the year. 

Trade policy had taken a beating during this election cycle and McIntosh said it will take a major effort to revive confidence among lawmakers and the American people that global trade is crucial for millions of U.S. jobs and economic growth. 

“One of the things I think the Club will have to do and the business community will need to do and go back to the American people and explain the benefits of free trade,” he said.

Either way, McIntosh said he would work with a Trump or Clinton White House. 

"The Club can play a positive role on trade going forward," he said.