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Protectionism: As American as Apple Pie?

Paul Snitzer
Published on March 19, 2018

From February 25 to March 6, 2018, negotiators from the United States, Mexico and Canada met in Mexico City for the seventh round of talks over “NAFTA” – the North American Free Trade Agreement. These talks, of course, are an initiative of the Trump Administration, following up on candidate Trump’s promise to renegotiate and improve the United States’ trade regime.

President Trump made plain during the campaign and after taking office that he viewed US trade policy as flawed and against the American tradition of protecting US industries through higher tariffs. For example, in February 2017, during his first nationally televised address to Congress, President Trump invoked none other than Abraham Lincoln, the redeemer President, as a supporter of protectionist policies. President Trump quoted an 1847 remark by Lincoln warning that the “abandonment of the protective policy by the American government… will produce want and ruin among our people” and argued that “Lincoln was right — and it’s time we heeded his advice and his words.”

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