White House Chief of Staff John Kelly recently reassigned Peter Navarro, director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, to report directly to the White House Council of Economic Advisers rather than to Trump himself and I think we might know exactly what triggered his demotion.
According to the Washington Post, Navarro has circulated absolutely batshit claims about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) inside the White House including an allegation that NAFTA has increased abortion.
The documents list what Navarro alleges are the problems that have resulted from a “weakened manufacturing base.” Some of the consequences are economic, including “lost jobs,” “depressed wages,” and “closed factories.”
But a separate sheet claims “Socioeconomic Costs” of the decline of the country’s manufacturing industry, such as “Higher Divorce Rate,” “Increased Drug/Opioid Use,” “Rising Mortality Rate,” “Higher Abortion Rate,” among many others.
I feel like I shouldn't have to say that there's zero evidence that NAFTA has increased abortion. In fact, teen pregnancy and abortion are down nationwide thanks, in part, to Obamacare's birth control mandate; a mandate that Trump recently undermined by issuing an order to allow more employers to refuse coverage for religious or moral reasons.
I wouldn't argue with anyone who says NAFTA “weakened" our manufacturing base, but this is 2017, not 1992. Auto industry studies say Trump's NAFTA demands for higher content thresholds will cost even more jobs because they will make imports from Asia more attractive. Americans developers and farmers are also opposed to Trump's attacks on the Canadian dairy and lumber industries which they depend on for cheap commodities.
Our entire economy has developed and congealed around a trade agreement that's been in place for over 25 years. We can't abruptly shut the door on it without sweeping consequences that will negatively impact virtually every single person in the country in some way.
I'm beginning to feel like a broken record on this subject, but my gut says Trump is going to withdraw from the agreement without an inkling of the consequences. With "negotiations" expected to stretch beyond the new year, I expect he'll do this next spring or summer. And won't that be a lovely election year debate?