Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Panel discusses policy, politics as President Trump presents a new trade deal.

What are America’s shifting politics around trade going to mean for the upcoming midterm elections? What lessons from the passage of NAFTA – and approximately 25 years of living with it – can advocates for American manufacturing and workers apply to its proposed replacement, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement?

Those were the among the topics of discussion today at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC, where an expert panel unpacked the politics and policy influencing our dynamic nationwide trade debate.

Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul participated, and had this to say:

I don’t believe USMCA or trade are going to be major election issues. … I think an interesting question, though, is how does (USMCA) get passed? Because, ultimately, the congress has to approve it. And when you think about it, there’s not a good past reference to this. In ’93 (when NAFTA passed), you had a largely Democratic setup. Bill Clinton promised changes, it squeaks through with a number of deals and logrolling built into it. We were coming off a bad economy and into a better economy.

“Then in 2015-16, TPP gets done. You have a Republican Congress that should want to do this because they’re all-free traders, and a president (Barack Obama) who largely agrees with their agenda on this, and it doesn’t happen!

"So what happens (in 2018)? ... I think both parties have something to consider here.

"For Republicans: Do you vote with the Koch brothers and your money, or do you vote where your base is? As you see from this polling, Republican (voters) want big changes.

"For Democrats … and particularly for industrial workers (who have supported them), they’ve strived for years to make changes like (those made in the USMCA). And we’ll see how real they are. But if they are real, how do national Democrats respond to this? There is a cost to working with the president. There’s an activist base on the left that wants to see impeachment and working with the president on trade is not high on their priority list. So how do national Democrats respond when this will be an issue that is critically important to the heartland and a lot of people in the middle class?"

Wanna nerd out on trade politics and policy analyses? Watch it below. And dive into polling on trade topics here.