Playing Ourselves for Fools
The trading system America sold the world is killing U.S. industry. Here's a better way.
ROBERT KUTTNER | January 25, 2010
Amid a generally poisoned atmosphere of vicious partisan combat, trade policy is unfortunately the last bastion of relentless bipartisanship. I say "unfortunately" because there is a stunning disconnect between America's trade policy and America's national interest. Since World War II, administrations of both parties have been promoting a design for global trade that displays a studied indifference to the fate of U.S. manufacturing.
U.S. trade negotiators strive for an ever purer strain of free trade (combined with protection for agriculture but not industry). But in the real world of industrial competition, governments help their industries -- except for the American government. Dissenters from the prevailing free-trade fantasy are dismissed as protectionist, a word that ranks in the foreign-policy lexicon slightly below terrorist.
Why would the U.S. government, which has not been shy about defending the nation's military security, be such a pushover when it comes to trade? more