The problem with people who are against “free trade” is that they do not understand that in a free trade environment, there are winners and there are losers. The answer is not to eliminate free trade, because when you do you also eliminate access to new markets. Isolationism isn’t a jobs saver or creator. It just means smaller markets.
The answer is to find ways to be more innovative, more creative, more competitive. Yeah, and this whole idea that all you need is to be a tougher, smarter negotiator to come up with better trade deals. That’s just bluster. Trade deals are negotiated over a period of years by different trade representatives and, in some cases, different presidential administrations.
Some deals can be tweaked to gain some advantages for one side or the other. Some deals are the best you can ever hope to get. The central problem of trade deals isn’t the risk that some jobs will go overseas in exchange for market access, cheaper imports, and higher corporate profits. The problem is how those profits are distributed and re-invested.
Under the current paradigm, the beneficiaries of trade deals are consumers and corporate executives, board members and shareholders. The losers are the workers who either stand to lose their jobs or are poorly compensated due, in part, to the obscene greed and blindness of those above them.