President Trump promised repeatedly during his campaign that he would boost the United States’ manufacturing sector by bringing jobs back from overseas and pulling the country out of trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). So far, he’s failed to make good on his promise to bring jobs back to the U.S., so Trump has now turned his attention to NAFTA, which he’s previously called the “worst agreement ever.”
The Trump administration has repeatedly linked the decline in the country’s manufacturing industry to NAFTA and other trade agreements, saying that the deals are bad for U.S. workers.
White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn has tried to encourage Trump to be cautious regarding NAFTA because he’s worried about the effect that abrupt changes could have on the U.S. and the global economy. However, Trump might be more inclined to listen to the opinions of one of his economic advisers, Peter Navarro.
The Washington Post recently obtained documents drafted and distributed by Navarro which claim that a diminishing manufacturing sector leads to increases in abortion, spousal abuse, divorce, and infertility.
As WaPo noted in the report, the documents do not contain any data or information to back up the claims.
The documents contain a list of economic consequences for a “weakened manufacturing base,” which include “lost jobs,” “depressed wages,” and “closed factories.”
A separate sheet also includes a list of the “socioeconomic costs” of the decline of the country’s manufacturing industry, which includes a “higher divorce rate,” “increased drug/opioid use,” “rising mortality rate,” and “higher abortion rate.”
Navarro, an economist, is an influential adviser who believes that free trade policies are harmful to the country’s manufacturing base and have allowed places like China, Mexico, and Canada to take advantage of the U.S. Navarro previously encouraged Trump to favor bilateral trade agreements over ones like NAFTA, and he also supported Trump’s decision to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Two administration officials, who spoke anonymously to WaPo, gave differing accounts of Navarro’s reports, which were distributed last month. One said that the documents were distributed on a staff level, but another said they have also been shared with cabinet secretaries.
When asked about the documents, a White House official said:
‘We don’t comment on purported internal documents. The President is working hard on behalf of the American people to make sure our trade agreements are free and fair and benefit the American worker.’
While “no comment” is the official answer regarding the documents, the administration insiders who spoke to WaPo said that other White House staffers were “alarmed” by the documents and are concerned about unverified information being used to influence policy.
These fears are definitely warranted, especially since Trump has threatened recently to pull the U.S. out of a “horrible” free trade agreement with South Korea.
Watch a report on the documents in the video below, courtesy of WaPo.
Featured image via DeAgostini/Getty Images.