The Working Poor: Trump's 45% Solution

Jan. 16, 2016 1:01 PM ET
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Contributor Since 2011

Clifford Neely October Consultants, Inc. PO Box 59208 Potomac, MD 20859 301 738 3321 Career 1988 to present: Principal, October Consultants, Inc. October Consultants conducts economic analysis and market research for clients in the floor coverings and chemical industries. 1976 to 1988: Senior Economist, Chemicals and Floor Coverings, Merrill Lynch Economics, New York, NY. Responsible for in-depth, economic analysis of the floor coverings and chemical industries. 1972 to1976: Vice President and Director, Roger Williams Technical & Economic Services, Inc. Princeton, NJ. Consultant specializing in chemical market research and venture analysis. 1962 to 1972: New York Bureau Head, Chemical & Engineering News. Responsible for Eastern U.S. and Canada. Manager of Frankfurt, Germany news bureau between 1964 and 1967. 1956 to 1962: Development Engineer, E.I DuPont, Louisville Neoprene Works, Beaumont Works. Development of DuPont's rotating arc process for acetylene manufacture. 1953 to 1956: Lt (jg) U.S. Navy, Assistant Engineering officer, USS Bayfield (APA 33). 1948 to 1953: BCHE, ME, Speed Scientific School, University of Louisville. Patents: U.S. Patent 3,320,146 "Process of Making Acetylene in an Electric Arc, " H.C. Neely, assigned to DuPont, Inc. Publications: Is Nylon too good for Tufted Carpet? —Carpet & Rug Industry, October 1994 Tax Reform's Silver Lining— Chemical Marketing & Management, Winter 1987 Hospital Economic Forecast—Hospitals, July 1984 Sources of Capital for Growth of Process Plants- Chemical Engineering, June 6, 1977 Reference: Who's Who in the East, 1977

Donald Trump's proposal to slap a 45% tariff on Chinese imports is another example of his genius for making politically incorrect catchwords respectable. By the end of the Columbia, SC presidential debate, there was a general agreement in the room that tariffs on Chinese imports were going to be a legitimate issue in the elections this year.

Thanks to Mr. Trump, there is no stigma now to believing that illegal immigration has to end, that giving Muslim refugees sanctuary is a bad idea, and that importing more than we export is a path to self-destruction. It's lunacy to believe that a nation can import its way to wealth. But this is the only legal explanation for why the U.S. has allowed massive negative trade balances to fester and grow over the past 20 years.

Donald Trump is drawing thousands of blue-collar workers to his stump speeches with the central message that America is far down the road to financial collapse. This shift in voter allegiance has profound implications for the political future of the country.

The working poor understand that Mr. Trump is on the right track for the simple reason that each and every one of them faces financial collapse on a daily basis. The danger is real, as they have been losing purchasing power every year since President Clinton blessed Robert Rubin's strong dollar policy and began the era of unrestricted imports in the mid-1990s.

Mr. Trump sees trade in easy to understand terms: Countries that export more than they import grow wealth. Countries that import more than they export fade away. Mercantilism works, tariffs work (they are not passed on to consumers), and reciprocity works.

We have to put people to work in this country and making the goods we import is the starting point. The estimated $485 billion of goods we bought from China in 2015 represent lost jobs and lost investment in this country. In the future, to sell us $485 billion in goods, China should be forced to buy $485 billion worth of goods from us. Reciprocity is the next politically incorrect word Mr. Trump should redeem. Balanced accounts make good neighbors.

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