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ASCH: ‘America first’ is making America fall behind – University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily

During his campaign, President Donald Trump made “Make America Great Again” his slogan. To Trump, this mainly meant bringing jobs back from abroad, staying out of international conflicts, tearing up trade deals, cutting immigration and dismantling climate regulations. These policies represent a significant retreat from the world stage. Other countries are attempting to capitalize on this recent pullback by investing in new technologies, encouraging skilled workers to immigrate and creating new trade agreements, ultimately excluding the United States. By making these shifts in policy, other countries are getting ready for a fast approaching future, which the United States is woefully unprepared for. With his agenda, Trump said he was putting America first, but by implementing it, he may end up damaging the U.S. economy and our country’s position as the leader of the free world. 

The first in a worrying series of trends is that governments in other countries are putting substantial investment in new technologies and innovation. This is particularly notable in China, where the government is putting a large amount of funding into projects like powerful supercomputers and other efficient technologies. This is in contrast to the United States, where Trump has proposed to slash budgets for science departments and has abruptly ended important research studies. Other countries are beating United States when it comes to green technology. Countries such as Germany, China and India are already on course to easily reach their emissions goals set in the 2015 Paris Climate Accords. The Trump Administration, on the other hand, seems set on trying to erase Obama’s climate legacy, and has instead redirected its energy toward reviving the coal industry.

Curbing illegal immigration has been a cornerstone of Trump’s campaign from the very beginning, when he called many immigrants “criminals and rapists.” Unfortunately, now Trump and several other senators have proposed a bill which would substantially cut legal immigration by creating a “merit-based” immigration system. In his mind and in the minds of the bill’s co-sponsors, low-skilled immigration contributes to a scarcity of low-skill jobs for native born workers. This flies directly in the face of research which shows immigrants pursue different jobs than their native born counterparts and that their presence is actually beneficial to the economy. Seeing that the United States is trying to curb all immigration, other countries like Canada and Mexico are ready to capitalize by trying to attract more international talent to their countries. Most notably, Canada set up a new visa program which makes it easier and quicker for skilled workers to immigrate. All of this is to show that slashing legal immigration may hurt the U.S. economy in the long run, and also let our competitors get ahead.

The final area the United States is pulling away from is international trade. Opposition to trade deals was a prominent feature in the 2016 presidential race, where many major candidates expressed reservations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Soon after being elected, Trump pulled the United States out of the international trade deal which would have allowed our government to set the rules for trade in a many areas of the world. In its place the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is being negotiated by China and Japan and Europe have also been working on creating their own free trade deal. These trends are worrisome because by being left out of these agreements, the United States is effectively abandoning its historic leadership role in world trade.

While it is true that the United States is facing unique challenges in the face of an increasingly globalized world, it is important to understand that closing ourselves off will only make things worse. Instead of implementing protectionist policies, the U.S. government should embrace the world economy and try to prepare our workforce for the next set of changes which I am sure are right around the corner. In these changing times, focusing on innovating and making sure America remains as the leader of the free world should be what our lawmakers focus on moving forward, It is discouraging that while these very important issues need to be addressed, Trump is currently threatening a government shutdown if he does not get funding for the border wall he promised Mexico would pay for. Though, I suppose it still might be possible for us to mount solar panels on the border wall.  

Jacob Asch is an Opinion columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at j.asch@cavalierdaily.com.

ASCH: ‘America first’ is making America fall behind – University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily

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