In the Wall Street Journal today (subscription needed), Kimberley A. Strassel’s column hits the Democrats’ current protectionist stance on trade and points to the party’s rebuilding of the world trade system in the 1930s and understanding of the benefits of free trade.
But, Strassel notes,
That common sense hasn’t matched the temptation to win points with Big Labor or to ride a populist anti-trade wave. Threats to hold trade deals hostage to labor and environmental rules; vows to review existing deals; the bashing of Mexican truck drivers; the mauling of the Chinese currency; complaints about trade enforcement — all of these are today standard Democratic (and increasingly Republican) talking points. The Clinton-Obama threats are a logical conclusion of this, not some surprising beginning.
Today, she says, “the stakes are arguably higher,” and quotes former Democratic congressman Cal Dooley on how trade today is integrally linked to national security, and it’s likely that the Democratic nominee for president will retreat from trade bashing to make the national security argument.
“. . . it’s hard to make nicey-nice with the global community when you are stiffing it on trade,” Strassel wrote. Not only on national security, but on the economy, Democrats need to take a leadership role. She quotes Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar, who is a strong supporter of open trade as well as a Hillary Clinton supporter, that support for trade is “about both the prosperity of the nation, and the prosperity of the Democratic Party.”
Economic prosperity and national security sound like good arguments for more open trade. Maybe some of those Dems can bring some needed sense to the current posturing on trade issues.