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Republican presidential candidate Gov. Buddy Roemer would require balanced trade
Howard Richman,

In an interview with Ian Fletcher, Republican presidential candidate Gov. Buddy Roemer said that he would require balanced trade if he were elected president. Specifically, when asked what he would do to end America's trade deficits he said:

So we've got to consider things like a serious tariff to end our trade deficit. Not something I'd rush into blindly, and maybe there's other ways to skin this cat, but I wouldn't flinch at putting a 30 percent tariff on Chinese goods, or a tariff on imports across the board, with the whole world or the countries running a surplus with us. And the interesting thing, of course, is that once the other side knows that, knows that we'd do a tariff, maybe they learn real fast to be a bit more reasonable? But you've got to have a credible threat that you'd do it if you want that "Speak softly and carry a big stick" stuff to work.

When he said that he would consider imposing a tariff upon those countries which run trade surpluses with the United States, he was coming very close to our scaled tariff proposal. The tariffs in that proposal would only be imposed upon those countries which run trade surpluses with the United States. The rate of the tariff would be proportional to the trade surplus, giving those countries an incentive to take down their barriers to American products. Not only that, the scaled tariff would be WTO-legal (For more on this topic, see our article The Scaled Tariff: A Mechanism for Combating Mercantilism and Producing Balanced Trade, just published by the peer-reviewed Journal of International Law and Trade Policy.)

Requiring balanced trade would create about 5 million manufacturing jobs each producing about $100,000 of product. And those well-paid manufacturing workers would in-turn buy services from other Americans. The result would restart American jobs growth both in the short- and long-term. Gov. Roemer, who has an economics degree and an MBA from Harvard, is aware of these effects. In response to the question "How do you feel about the trade deficit?" he said:

It's horrendous, and it's the one big cause of job loss that nobody in the political establishment -- not on the Democrat side, not on the Republican side -- wants to talk about. They're all blathering about expanding exports when it doesn't matter how much we export if our imports just keep going up even more, which is what's been happening. It's only net exports that are going to make a dent in our unemployment, and we're going the opposite direction right now with a trade deficit that is around $500 billion a year or so. That's a jobs plan we could do right now: end the trade deficit, or at least cut it.

Roemer is a former Louisiana governor and a former congressman. Like Governor Sarah Palin he is a populist Republican who opposes crony capitalism and supports balanced trade and balanced budgets. If you would like to find out more about his positions, go to his campaign website:

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  • [An] extensive argument for balanced trade, and a program to achieve balanced trade is presented in Trading Away Our Future, by Raymond Richman, Howard Richman and Jesse Richman. “A minimum standard for ensuring that trade does benefit all is that trade should be relatively in balance.” [Balanced Trade entry]

    Journal of Economic Literature:

  • [Trading Away Our Future] Examines the costs and benefits of U.S. trade and tax policies. Discusses why trade deficits matter; root of the trade deficit; the “ostrich” and “eagles” attitudes; how to balance trade; taxation of capital gains; the real estate tax; the corporate income tax; solving the low savings problem; how to protect one’s assets; and a program for a strong America....

    Atlantic Economic Journal:

  • In Trading Away Our Future   Richman ... advocates the immediate adoption of a set of public policy proposal designed to reduce the trade deficit and increase domestic savings.... the set of public policy proposals is a wake-up call... [February 17, 2009 review by T.H. Cate]