Donald Trump always sounded just like a Bernie Sanders Democrat when talking about international trade. “We have one issue that’s very similar,” he said, “and that’s trade.” That Trump-Sanders hostility to trade liberalization, in turn, is identical to that of the AFL-CIO and the Economic Policy Institute, a leftist think tank created and largely financed by labor unions.
It should be no surprise that Donald Trump’s most influential adviser and spokesman on international trade, Peter Navarro, is a former unsuccessful Democrat politician who seems closer to an old-style Bernie Sanders leftist Democrat than to a Bill Clinton “New Democrat.”
The only academic among Trump 13 economic advisers, Navarro returned to being an economics professor at U.C. Irvine, after losing San Diego mayoral election to Republican Susan Golding. In 1993 Navarro wrote the book, Bill Clinton’s Agenda for America.
With one caveat, the book was full of glowing praise for everything Clinton promised to do – notably lots more federal spending (which, ironically, fell substantially).
Navarro’s doubts about Clinton concerned NAFTA, which Bush created but Clinton promised to change. “I thought the NAFTA agreement ought to have been more properly called ‘SHAFTA,’” says Navarro. But he notes that “candidate Clinton later acknowledged the problems of the environment and lost jobs raised by NAFTA, and called for wage safeguards and stricter environmental regulations. It remains to be seen whether this was merely rhetoric, or a serious concern that will have policy follow-through.”