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So Bernie Sanders did a sit-down chat with the New York Daily News. The interview led off with some questioning on trade. Now I’ve been pretty critical of Donald Trump’s protectionist stance on trade. And frankly Sanders is no better. Read it for yourself, but I want to focus on this bit:
Daily News: Another one of your potential opponents has a very similar sounding answer to, or solution to, the trade situation — and that’s Donald Trump. He also says that, although he speaks with much more blunt language and says, and with few specifics, “Bad deals. Terrible deals. I’ll make them good deals.” So in that sense I hear whispers of that same sentiment. How is your take on that issue different than his?
Sanders: Well, if he thinks they’re bad trade deals, I agree with him. They are bad trade deals. But we have some specificity and it isn’t just us going around denouncing bad trade. In other words, I do believe in trade. But it has to be based on principles that are fair. So if you are in Vietnam, where the minimum wage is 65¢ an hour, or you’re in Malaysia, where many of the workers are indentured servants because their passports are taken away when they come into this country and are working in slave-like conditions, no, I’m not going to have American workers “competing” against you under those conditions. So you have to have standards. And what fair trade means to say that it is fair. It is roughly equivalent to the wages and environmental standards in the United States.
And more from Sanders at a different point in the interview:
So I think we need trade. But I think it should be based on fair trade policies. No, I don’t think it is appropriate for trade policies to say that you can move to a country where wages are abysmal, where there are no environmental regulations, where workers can’t form unions. That’s not the kind of trade agreement that I will support.
What this sounds like to me is no trade with poor countries. No offshoring or outsourcing to emerging economies. Only trade with advanced economies where wages are more comparable. Of course, it is trade and investment that will raise living standards and wages in countries such as Vietnam, as is currently happening in China and India. Free enterprise is the path out of poverty so wages aren’t “abysmal.”
Recall, though, that Sanders said he “personally” happens “not to be a great believer in the free enterprise system for many reasons.” Count me convinced! How would Sanders-onomics help the global poor? More foreign aid through wealth taxes on the US and Europe and Japan?