American Proscenium

Presidential Campaign Should Change the Trade Debate

While the antiwar rhetoric that fueled the early days of the Democratic presidential primaries has not gone away, attacks on President Bush’s dismal record of net job losses have now taken precedence.

Unfortunately, Rep. Dick Gephardt, the first to drop out of the race, was the only Democratic candidate with a record of opposing the “free trade” ideology, which is most responsible for the loss of 2.7 million manufacturing jobs in the United States and 300,000 “outsourced” service jobs since the 1997 global financial crisis.  Frontrunner John Kerry, however, has voted for every bad trade agreement of the last decade, including NAFTA (1993), the creation of the WTO (1994), establishing permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with China (2000), and the granting of “fast track” negotiating authority to President Bush (2002).

North Carolina Sen. John Edwards was better positioned to take on trade policy, since imports and the movement of factories overseas have devastated the southeastern states as much as they have the Midwest.  Edwards, however, had also backed open trade with China and “fast track” for Bush.

Both Edwards and Kerry supported the alternative to the Foreign Sales Corporation (FSC) tax break for exporters offered by Reps. Phil Crane (R-IL) and Charles Rangel (D-NY), which would have given a ten-percent tax break to domestic manufacturing. ...

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