The New and Improved NAFTA Is the Best NAFTA Ever!

Brad DeLong has a question:

The differences between Clinton’s NAFTA—which Trump called the worst trade deal ever—and the Trump-Lighthizer’s USMCA—of which Trump is very, very, very proud indeed: GREATEST TRADE DEAL EVER!! MAKES AMERICA GREAT!!!!—are either (a) trivial, (b) parts of the Trump-nuked Trans-Pacific Partnership, or (c) changes in auto parts rules of origin that are not on the manufacturers’ wish list and are not really on the United Auto Workers’ wish-list either.

How did this happen? Nobody I communicate with has yet managed to figure this out.

Brad, Brad, Brad. This has been Trump’s best strategy from the start: do something trivial and then market the hell out of it. Sure, there’s not much difference between NAFTA and New NAFTA, but there’s not much difference between Tide and New Tide, either. So what? It’s almost an axiom of marketing that success has no correlation with the intrinsic quality of the product being sold.

Even Trump is probably smart enough to know that he can’t actually solve any of the problems he campaigned on. But he doesn’t care. He just needs something, anything, that allows him to claim victory. That’s plenty for his fans, who believe everything he says.

However, this presents us with a different question: if all Trump needs is a little something, why is he actively sabotaging USMCA? He should be doing his best to bulldoze it over the finish line so that he has his little something. But he’s not. Why?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.