Tag Archive for ‘Free Trade’
In the last week of September the House of Representatives passed legislation aimed at imposing trade sanctions against China unless it lets its currency appreciate, thereby reducing its export advantage. In a subsequent speech clearly aimed at China, Japan and Brazil, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner attacked currency policies likely to result in “short-term distortions in favor of exports.” In the meantime the U.S. dollar has hit a record low against most major currencies.
On October 2, 2010, the Wall Street Journal ran an article detailing the results of the most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. The article was entitled “Americans Sour on Trade,” but what Americans are really souring on is free trade: 53% of Americans now say that free trade agreements have hurt the United States, with less than 10% saying they have helped. The tea party is even more opposed to free trade than the general public, with 61% of tea party supporters saying that free trade agreements have hurt America.
And anti-free trade sentiment is building: in 2007, 46% of Americans said that free trade agreements have hurt the country, and in 1999 the figure was only 32%. A decade of outsourcing of professional jobs has dramatically eroded the support of wealthier Americans for free trade, with 50% of those earning over $75,000 per year now saying that free trade hurts the U. S., up from 24% in 1999. And both 83% of blue-collar workers and 95% of professionals and managers cited outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries as a factor in America’s current economic downturn; no other factor was cited more.
Of course, the people are right. As Paul Craig Roberts has tersely noted, “The American economy has gone away. It is not coming back until free trade myths are buried six feet under.” Unfortunately, the consensus of our bipartisan elite in favor of free trade remains strong. But at least the American electorate is no longer buying that particular bill of goods.
Though Bush 41 and Bush 43 often disagreed, one issue did unite them both with Bill Clinton: protectionism.
Globalists all, they rejected any federal measure to protect America’s industrial base, economic independence or the wages of U.S. workers.
“Libero Ingresso” says the little sign on the doors of an Italian shop. English speakers who know enough Italian to translate the words, Free Entrance, sometimes wonder if there was a time when Italian shopkeepers charged customers an admission fee, to be refunded, perhaps, if a purchase was made. It is just the sort of thing you might expect of Old Europe.
Congress is sending a message: The rebuilding of America is to be a project of, by and for Americans, not outsourced. Sen. McCain’s free-trade amendment, to strip all Buy American provisions from the bill, was routed 65 to 31. The reaction of Barack Obama, a NAFTA skeptic in 2008 with bumper stickers that read, “Buy American, Vote Obama,” was to genuflect to the gods of globalism and recant his economic patriotism.
“I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system,” President Bush told CNN, defending his offer of $17 billion in loans to the Big Three “to make sure the economy doesn’t collapse.”
Thus did Bush concede that protectionism, if a critical U.S. industry is in peril, must trump free-trade ideology. For in offering the bailout to GM, Ford and Chrysler, Bush, by omission, excluded BMW, Mercedes, Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai—though all operate auto plants here in the United States and all are feeling the same sales slump.
Understandably, Republicans are seething. When Hank Paulson demanded $700 billion to haul away the trash in the dumpsters of JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs—assuring us we could hold a garage sale of the junk—they rebelled. They acted as the nation, by 100 to one, demanded. They killed the Wall Street bailout. The Dow quickly sank another 1,000 points, and, charged with criminal irresponsibility by the elites, the GOP buckled, reversed itself, rescued the bailout—and was wiped out on Nov. 4.
Now we hear from Paulson that the $700 billion Congress voted will not, after all, be used to buy up all that rotten paper on the books of the big banks. Some banks are using the cash to buy other banks.
So Republicans are right to be enraged. They are victims of the biggest bait-and-switch in political history. But they are now about to do something terminally stupid.