Jobs have been the focal point of 2016’s populist campaign against trade.
Trade skeptics like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have railed against open trade and deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as schemes to benefit global elites at the cost of millions of jobs for hardworking Americans. They claim that American workers would be better served by upending NAFTA, rejecting the TPP, and—in Trump’s case—slapping import taxes of 35 percent or more on trade from China and Mexico.
But populists’ single-minded focus on trade and “lost” jobs has obscured a larger and often-ignored reality: the fact that trade supports—both directly and indirectly—tens of millions of good jobs for middle class Americans. And protectionist policies would put many of these jobs at risk, while offering only the cruel illusion of support to many workers who need greater help.
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