Sunday, December 23, 2007

New York Times editorial is right on the mark

The New York Times is rightly concerned by Democrats talk about trade protectionism. From their editorial - Trade and Prosperity -
Democrats have been most tempted by the protectionism. John Edwards likes to talk about how trade agreements like Nafta “have hurt workers and families while helping corporate insiders.” Senator Hillary Clinton has suggested that the economic theories underpinning the cause for free trade no longer hold, and has said she would review all of the United States’ trade agreements.
It is very easy to blame trade on economic hardships, but the realities are much more complicated. Since NAFTA has been passed, American unemployment has averaged 2% lower than in the decade before it. Some industries have been extremely hard hit, like textile manufacturing. However, others have benefitted, like auto manufacturing.

I know that it is easy on the campaign trail to tell voters who are concerned about their economic position that free trade is the culprit, but Democratic candidates need to be honest and say that free trade, on aggregate, is good for America and will be the position of economic policy under a Democratic administration.