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Robert Reich: Trump’s Nutty ‘America First’ Economics – OpEd

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Donald Trump gave a speech Friday at South Carolina’s Boeing facility, where the new 787 “Dreamliner” was unveiled. He said the plane was “built right here” in South Carolina, and that “our goal as a nation must be to rely less on imports and more on products made here in the U.S.A.“

That’s pure fantasy. I’ll let you know why in a moment.

He also called for “a very substantial penalty to be paid when they fire their people and move to another country, make the product, and think that they are going to sell it back.” And said he’ll lower taxes and get rid of regulations that send our jobs to those other countries. “We want products made by our workers in our factories stamped by those four magnificent words, ‘Made in the U.S.A.’”

Trump doesn’t seem to know anything about global competition, and what’s really holding back American workers.

In fact, almost a third of Boeing’s Dreamliner comes from abroad.

And not from low-wage countries. In fact, the Dreamliner’s components come from countries with high taxes and high regulations, good wages, strong unions, excellent schools including technical education, and universally-available health care.

For example:

1.The Italian firm Alenia Aeronautica makes the center fuselage.

2. French firm Messier-Dowty makes the aircraft’s landing-gear system.

3. German firm Diehl Luftfahrt Elektronik supplies the main cabin lighting.

4. Swedish firm Saab Aerostructures manufactures the access doors.

5. Japanese company Jamco makes parts for the lavatories, flight deck interiors and galleys.

6. French firm Thales makes its electrical power conversion system.

7. Thales selected GS Yuasa, a Japanese firm, in 2005 to supply it with the system’s lithium-ion batteries.

Oh, and the first delivery of the Dreamliner is scheduled to take place next year – to Singapore Airlines. Currently there are 149 orders for it from worldwide customers including British Airways and Air France.

In other words, contrary to Trump, the Boeing Dreamliner is made all over the world and will be sold all over the world.

Trump’s “America First” economics is pure demagoguery. We get a first-class workforce by investing in Americans’ education, training, infrastructure, and healthcare – and rewarding them with high union wages.

We don’t boost the competitiveness of American workers through xenophobic grandstanding.

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Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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