While protectionism seems to have strong supporters within both major political parties, it often falls short when put into practice. George Will's Washington Post editorial shows just how difficult it is to implement protectionist trade policy in the modern economy. Multinational corporations with international supply chains create an economic impact that extends well beyond the borders where their headquarters are domiciled. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to punish intended targets without causing significant collateral damage. At best, it is a futile attempt to appease a nationalist base. At worst, it is an opportunity to perform a favor for a special interest.
I wonder if the 7000 direct Bombardier employees or the thousands of indirect employees supported by $3 billion in materials Bombardier purchases from the US suppliers every year feel protected by the tariffs. Do more expensive airplanes and the resulting higher ticket prices help Delta Airlines and its customers sleep more soundly at night?
Quadrupling the cost of an airplane seems like a high price for the American consumer to pay to protect Boeing's opportunity to create a competing plane in the future. Unfortunately, this is just one example of cronyism created by protectionism.
Like Mr. Will at the end of his article, I am left wondering,
Who will protect Americans from the radiating mischief of protectionism?