by Pat Buchanan
William McKinley, the veteran of Antietam who gave his name to the McKinley Tariff, declared four years before being elected president: “Free trade results in our giving our money…our manufactures and our markets to other nations. …It will bring widespread discontent. It will revolutionize our values.”
Campaigning in 1892, McKinley said, “Open competition between high-paid American labor and poorly paid European labor will either drive out of existence American industry or lower American wages.”
Substitute “Asian labor” for “European labor,” and is this not a fair description of what free trade did to U.S. manufacturing these last 25 years? The results have been some $12 trillion in trade deficits, arrested wages for our workers, six million manufacturing jobs lost, 55,000 factories, and plants shut down.
McKinley’s future vice president Teddy Roosevelt agreed with him: “Thank God I am not a free trader.”
What did the Protectionists produce?
From 1869 to 1900, GDP quadrupled. Budget surpluses ran for 27 straight years. The U.S. debt was cut two-thirds to 7 percent of GDP. Commodity prices fell 58 percent. America’s population doubled, but real wages rose 53 percent. Economic growth averaged 4 percent a year.
And the United States, which began this era with half of Britain’s production, ended it with twice Britain’s production.