Free Trade On The Campaign Trail

From Trump to Sanders, free trade is getting a thumping on the campaign trail. Could, would the United States really turn it around? Plus: inspecting stalled millennial wage growth.

In this file photo, President Barack Obama, left, Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, center, and Canada's former Prime Minister Stephen Harper attend a news conference that concludes the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

In this file photo, President Barack Obama, left, Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, center, and Canada’s former Prime Minister Stephen Harper attend a news conference that concludes the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

It caused a lot of pain in America’s rust belt, but for years and years, through Republican and Democratic administrations, free trade has been dominant economic orthodoxy in the United States. And free trade deals have made it very real. Now, on the campaign trail, those deals and free trade itself are taking a beating end to end, from Trump to Sanders. This hour On Point, is it possible that the great age of American free trade celebration is over?  Plus, the stagnant wages of millennials.

— Tom Ashbrook


Neil King, global economics editor for The Wall Street Journal. (@NKingofDC)

Robert Kuttner, co-founder and co-editor of the American Prospect. (@rkutner)

Jeffrey Schottsenior fellow studying international trade policy and economic sanctions at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

From Tom’s Reading List

POLITICO: Labor seeks revenge on free-trade Dems — “Labor’s fight against the White House’ free-trade agenda is moving into the trenches in tight Democratic races, with many of the 28 moderates who supported ‘fast-track’ trade promotion legislation now targeted for that and their likely support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Vox: Bernie Sanders’s trade problem: helping American workers would hurt the world’s poorest — “These decisions don’t happen in a vacuum. The global trade system, generally speaking, depends on leadership by example. When the United States opens up its own markets, other countries tend to do the same. If the US were to embrace protectionism, other countries would follow suit.”

The Wall Street Journal: South Carolina GOP Voters Feel the Benefits of Free Trade—but Also the Scars — “Few states have been more nimble than South Carolina in adjusting to global competition. The state turned the loss of 80,000 textile and apparel jobs since 1980 into part of its pitch to foreign manufacturers and U.S. exporters that need a big pool of workers to staff new car, tire and aerospace plants. Even some Chinese textile makers, once the scourge of the state’s business establishment, are setting up beachheads in South Carolina, which leads the nation in percentage of workers employed by foreign companies—8.4% in 2013.”

Why Aren’t Millennial Wages Growing?

Brendan Duke, associate director of economic policy at the Center for American Progress. Author of the new report, “When I Was Your Age: Millennials and the Generational Wage Gap.” (@brendan_duke)

Alicia Sasser Modestino, professor of economics and public policy at Northeastern University. (@SasserModestino)

Center for American Progress: When I Was Your Age — “By all rights, Millennials—people born between 1981 and 1997—should be the highest-paid generation in American history. They are, after all, the most likely to hold a college degree and are working in a period of unsurpassed productivity. Unfortunately, more education and a more productive economy have not paid off for working Millennials.”

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