The Rise of Anti-Trade Lou Dobbs Democrats: Free Trade Has Left the Building
From yesterday's Slate.com, an article titled "The Lou Dobbs Democrats: Say Hello to the New Economic Nationalists," about how many of the Democrats who recaptured seats held by Republicans ran hard against free trade, globalization, and any sort of moderate immigration policy.
See a related post from Greg Mankiw's here: "Which Party Favors Free Trade?"
Economic nationalism begins from the populist premise that working people aren't doing so well. But instead of blaming the rich at home, it focuses its energy on the poor abroad. The leading economic nationalist today is Lou Dobbs, who on nights other than Election Night natters on against free trade, outsourcing, globalization, and immigration on CNN.
Economic nationalism is not unique to Democrats—nor is it a new theme. The protectionist wing of the party emerged in the 1980s when America's manufacturing decline was first linked to imports and foreign competition. During his 1992 campaign, Bill Clinton made a key decision to support NAFTA. Clinton espoused a strong free-trade position and embraced globalization through his presidency.
See today's NY Times Business section for more on the anti-trade trend:
As a result of this year's election, it now seems unlikely that the new Congress will extend George W. Bush's "fast-track" trade-negotiating authority, which expires this summer. The results are further bad news for the Doha round and bilateral trade agreements with South Korea and other countries. It is possible that congressional Democrats will revive efforts to saddle China with punitive tariffs as punishment for "currency manipulation." It would be going too far to say that the 2006 election ushers in a new protectionist consensus. But free trade has definitely left the building.
Democrats and Republicans agree that the new Congress is likely to be less hospitable to trade deals negotiated by the Bush administration, since any such deals are likely to involve cuts in tariffs and subsidies that could cost manufacturing jobs.
The main issue would be a possible global trade agreement negotiated by the World Trade Organization. Major business organizations support such a deal but farm groups are ready to oppose anything that does not require tariff and subsidy reductions by America’s trading partners.