by Tom Rogan · December 10, 2019
Everyone should celebrate the bipartisan deal on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. It will support the manufacturing and agricultural industries, boost economic growth, and create new jobs and wealth.
But President Trump has special reason to be happy here.
Trump campaigned on replacing NAFTA with a trade deal that better served American workers, and now he has one. More importantly, however, the USMCA reemphasizes the coalescence between Trumpism and traditional Republican politics. That gives Trump a new vote-winning opportunity. After all, for Republican voters and business owners who value free trade and are skeptical of Trump’s unpredictability and rhetorical excesses, the USMCA shows that Trump’s populism isn’t the be-all and end-all of his presidency.
In the end, this deal is a good free trade deal, one that most conservatives can get behind.
That matters because Trump’s reelection rests on his ability to unify the Republicans and independent moderates under a narrative of economic growth. As shown by Trump’s loss of middle-class suburban voters to Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections, the president’s reelection requires more than his mobilization of issues such as immigration.
To be sure, the USMCA comes at a great time for the White House.
While the economy continues to show record numbers on key indicators such as the unemployment rate, the ongoing trade war with China, albeit necessary in some areas, restrains economic confidence. If China decides it wants Trump to lose next November (a significant possibility considering the foreign policy weakness of 2020 Democratic hopefuls and Trump’s military strategy), it is likely to attempt to inject new uncertainty into the U.S. economy. Xi Jinping’s long-term focused strategy means he will take that action even if doing so damages China’s short-to-medium-term economic interests.
In short, Trump needs more USMCA-style deals, less crazy talk, and a reelection narrative centered as much as possible on the economy.
Oh, and hope that Democrats nominate a far-left candidate such as Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.
Washington Examiner · by Tom Rogan · December 10, 2019