This is an excerpt from the 2018 Steve Dustcircle book, Trump’s Cabinet: The Rise of Each Appointed Deplorable, available in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com. The book contains links to multiple references and citations.
UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
Created on 1962, the United States trade representative is usually the chief trade deal negotiator and handler of disputes.
The trade representative being replaced is President Barack Obama’s TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) guy, Michael Froman. Robert Lighthizer—one who is not known to toe the Republican Party line on trade—will be picking up where Froman is leaving off.
Ambassador Lighthizer is no new-comer to politics. He has actually served with the Ronald Reagan administration, where he is known for his battles with Japan.
He is a 30-year, international law partner with Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom, where he has represented large manufacturing and agricultural companies, specializing in steel company representation. He will retire from his attorney position to take up the Cabinet appointment.
With President Reagan, he imposed protectionist measures. With Donald Trump, he is supposed to help shake up the U.S. trade policy, allegedly trying to put American workers first and foremost.
As a lawyer, Lighthizer scored many trade wins as a representative for companies like U.S. Steel Corp., and with Reagan, he hit Japan with stiff tariffs on semiconductors.
He also served as Bob Dole’s treasurer during his failed presidential run in 1996.
According to John Ydstie, Lighthizer will rip up NAFTA (The North American Free Trade Agreement) and heavily tax imports from foreign companies who don’t behave.
In 2008, Lighthizer announced that Presidential nominee John McCain had poor views on “free trade,” but two years later said that the Tea Party had some valid points as free trade skeptics.
Under Trump, the position of trade representative isn’t planned to have as much power as it has had in the past, but only time will tell. Additionally, making new trade agreements doesn’t seem to be a priority for President Trump; however, addressing complaints about China does seem to be, including our trade deficit with the country.
Lighthizer told Congress in 2010 that China’s inclusion into the World Trade Organization didn’t work out. China’s exports to the U.S.A. increased while the U.S.A.’s to China decreased. They seemed to be testing limits.
During this time, America’s jobs were being lost to overseas sectors. Placing “aggressive” tariffs on China could lead to a trade war—a sort of embargo—and China will hardly be the only one stuck in Lighthizer’s cross-hairs. Mexico, the European Union, and South Korea are also being criticized.
The Commerce Department is rising in power and will be headed up by billionaire investor Wilbur Ross. He tends to support policies that benefit his businesses and opposes the ones that don’t, according to Lori Wallach of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.
Additionally, there is a new department in the formation: the White House Trade Council, headed up by economist Peter Navarro, who is also a China hawk.
The irony with Lighthizer is that he will be serving a candidate that has many opposing trade views, so it should make the next couple of years interesting. But let us remember that Trump-branded products were outsourced overseas under Lighthizer’s nod. They were not manufactured by Americans.