While the RNC and GOP mega-donors would love to sign the TPP and ship even more manufacturing jobs out of the country, that agenda has prevented them from capturing the White House and thereby the rest of the Executive branch agencies. Trump was uniquely able to win the general election by promoting the re-industrialization of the Rust Belt, winning many Midwestern states that have not voted Republican in decades.
These working-class whites of the Rust Belt were willing to take a chance on Trump, and unless they see some major improvements, they will not be taking a chance on a Republican presidential ticket ever again, and the GOP will be shut out of the Executive branch for good.
The RNC may be blind and stupid, but they are not suicidal. Once someone showed them how to win the White House, they are happy to copy that strategy into the future. So, re-industrialization it is.
An article at Axios reveals that Trump and the economic nationalists are planning to launch a major trade war to bring back manufacturing to this nation once again:
With more than 20 top officials present, including Trump and Vice President Pence, the president and a small band of America First advisers made it clear they're hell-bent on imposing tariffs — potentially in the 20% range — on steel, and likely other imports.
The penalties could eventually extend to other imports. Among those that may be considered: aluminum, semiconductors, paper, and appliances like washing machines.
One official estimated the sentiment in the room as 22 against and 3 in favor — but since one of the three is named Donald Trump, it was case closed.
No decision has been made, but the President is leaning towards imposing tariffs, despite opposition from nearly all his Cabinet.
Reminder that "trade" these days is largely not trade, it is the corporations in the rich countries using the Third World as a source of cheap materials, cheap labor, and cheap regulations, to cut their costs and boost their profits.
Sometimes the entire product is made in a crappy country, and then a real-country brand and logo is slapped on to fob it off on American consumers as though it were high-quality. ("Made in Bangladesh to the specifications of Harrington and Heathrow Clothiers".) Other times the various parts of the product are made in various countries, and are finally "assembled" here rather than being "made" here. ("Assembled in USA from textiles made in El Salvador".)
In either case, the strategy has been to make the supply chains global, in search of the lowest costs for each piece of the product, and each bit of labor used to make or put it together.
This gutting of American companies making their product here in America has driven down the standard of living for working-class and middle-class Americans: their gadgets and clothing costs somewhat less than it used to, but their incomes have fallen off a cliff because the high-paying American labor has been converted into low-paying Guatemalan or Vietnamese labor. Manufacturing has been replaced with cheap service sector jobs, and more and more of these are done by immigrants, further driving down incomes -- while driving up the price of housing (our main expense by far), with tens of millions of new residents overnight. Not to mention that the quality of our gadgets and clothing today is lower than it used to, being made in the Third World.
Restoring our standard of living to what it used to be before the 1980s requires us to bring these supply chains back within the borders of our own nation. Not so long ago, entirely within the South, raw cotton was grown, spun, and woven into a usable fabric, and then cut and sewn into a finished piece of clothing or bedding. In the Midwest, steel was made, fashioned into machine parts, and then assembled together into a whole car or washing machine. Out West in electronics land, Texas Instruments made calculators from start to finish, and Apple made their computers, keyboards, and mouses all within American borders (only the monitors from Apple were made in Asia).
That is why it's so crucial that the Trump plan is targeting not just raw materials like steel, paper, sugar, beef, and so on, but machine parts (semiconductors) and finished products (appliances). If there is a heavy tariff on parts and finished goods, it will make it too expensive for corporations to make these things abroad, and bring production back here instead. The manufacturers ought to be doing that out of a sense of national cohesion, but as greedy as the corporate boards and stockholders have gotten over the past several decades, they will require a beating to get them in line with what is good for America and the American people.
Finally, bear in mind that when manufacturing returns, it will create not only high-paying blue-collar jobs, but also create tons of openings for the various managerial and professional tasks that need to be done to operate a semiconductor foundry, a textile mill, and an auto plant. The only ones who have gained from outsourcing production have been the very elite managers like the CEO, who still works, lives, and gets paid in America, unlike the workers and low-to-medium level managers and professionals whose jobs got sent to the Philippines.
That is the only way that the middle class is going to enjoy a higher standard of living -- by earning twice as much income managing an auto plant, rather than getting a tax cut on their low income in a service job. Even if they got to keep all of their income that goes to taxes, it would not be enough. We need to raise incomes through the roof, and the Industrial Revolution is the only thing that has done that for working and middle-class people.