CRP Blog

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Democrats Turn Protectionist, Risking Jobs

When Bill Clinton campaigned for President as a "New Democrat," it was widely seen as part of a broad strategy to shed the party's far-left image that was only reinforced by the party's nominees of Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, and Michael Dukakis. Yet, when our political opponents adopt our ideas, that's a victory, not a defeat. The 1990's shift in the Democrat Party to supporting trade was a victory for our team.

It's also over, as the Democrats under Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi have reverted back to the protectionist impulses and union demands that were kept in check during the Clinton years. Their new protectionism threatens American jobs, particualrly in trade-heavy states like California.

President Bush has aggressively pushed for the opening of foreign markets to American goods throughout his terms. As a relatively low tax country, American taxes on imports (tariffs) were already low, or nonexistent. A tax on imports is, after all, just a hidden tax on American consumers. The President's free trade agenda has resulted in one foreign country after another reducing their barriers to importing American goods.

The benefits are clear: while some sectors of the American economy have slowed, American exports are way up, helping to keep total economic growth positive despite the pressures of the housing, finance and energy sectors.

While Senator McCain would continue to promote American exports through free trade, Barack Obama and the Democrats would take us back to the pre-WWII era of trade protectionism, risking American exports and triggering retaliation by nations that import American goods. Such retaliation would only make more difficult the work of Governor Schwarzenegger and other California leaders working to promote Golden State products around the world.

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