More on the Dems and Trade

By November 19, 2006Trade

Good lead editorial in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal entitled, “Protectionist Party?”, wondering aloud where the Dems might go on trade. We’ve written about this before and the Journal uses some of the same stats, but they trace the pro-trade history of the Dems back to FDR, Truman (and the rejuvenation of the GATT), JFK’s Alliance for Progress” and finally Bill Clinton’s push for NAFTA, the WTO and most favored nation status for China. Yet only 15 Dems voted for CAFTA. How the mighty free-traders have fallen.

They cite their editorial from earlier his week, asking whether the Dems would follow the AFL-CIO on trade. We sure hope not, and the Journal agrees. As they say:

“We don’t think there’s much political profit in a protectionist turn. Whatever applause Democrats received from the AFL-CIO, they would lose as much support from business. They’d also advertise themselves as a party of a narrow special interest rather than the larger national good. This is why no truly protectionist candidate has won his party’s Presidential nomination, Democrat or Republican, since Hoover. Voters have an instinctive sense that the only way to prosper is by competing in the global economy, not shrinking from it.”

We share the Journal’s concern and hope the Dems don’t go down a protectionist road. “If Democrats want to help American workers,” says the Journal at the end of the editorial, “There are many things they could do: Make health insurance and pensions more portable, promote competition for failing public schools, reduce the cost of litigation that drives companies overseas. Trade protection, however, will be an economic and political loser.”

Trade and trade agreements open markets to US-made goods. As such, they are good for US manufacturers large and small. Let’s hope this doesn’t get lost in the misguided rhetoric of the left.