How free traders inadvertently laid the groundwork for Trump's dumb trade war

If they want to know how we got into this mess, Trump's trade critics would do well to look in the mirror

President Trump.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump is eager to start a trade war. And it's giving American elites heartburn. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 724 points Thursday — almost 3 percent — on the president's announcement that he will slap about $60 billion in tariffs on China. The S&P 500 fell 68 points, or 2.5 percent.

On top of Thursday's moves, Trump has already slapped tariffs on aluminum and steel imports, and he's aggressively renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Fears of an escalating trade feud between major nations abound among mainstream economists and politicians, especially from members of the president's own party. "We're on pins and needles," Rep. Erik Philip Paulsen (R-Minn.) told U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Wednesday.

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