Is Pence Selection a Shift in Trade Policy from the Trump Campaign?

Last week, Donald Trump announced his selection of Indiana Governor Mike Pence to be his running mate. Prior to being elected Governor of the Hoosier State in 2012, Pence served 6 terms in the United States House of Representatives. As National Taxpayers Union (NTU) has noted, over the course of his time in Congress, Pence was one of the most reliably pro taxpayer voices in Washington, D.C.

Not only is Pence’s record stellar on tax and spending issues, he’s been an ardent supporter of free trade. While in Congress, Pence voted for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and free trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea, Panama, Oman, Chile, Peru, and Singapore. Likewise, Pence supported normal trading relations with China and opposed efforts to sanction China for allegedly manipulating its currency. 

As Governor of Indiana, Pence urged Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority, or fast track authority, which enables presidents to negotiate and finalize trade agreements with foreign countries. Likewise, Governor Pence urged Congress to ratify the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement with 11 other Pacific Rim nations currently pending in Congress, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), a trade agreement being negotiated between the United States and Europe.

By contrast, Mr. Trump has suggested renegotiating or withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); imposing tariffs on goods imported from China, Japan, and Mexico; directing the United States Treasury to label China a currency manipulator; and rejecting TPP. Together, these policies would be a disaster for U.S. consumers and could trigger a major recession for the global economy.

While NTU has not taken a formal position on TPP and T-TIP, we are strong proponents of free trade. NTU has been critical of Donald Trump’s misguided calls for protectionism at various points during his presidential campaign, yet we are relieved Mr. Trump has selected a strong free trader as his running mate. NTU hopes this is a sign of things to come from the Trump campaign.