Trade Agreements are Hopeless

Thursday, February 28, 2008
National Review's Rich Lowry says the audacity of hope doesn't extend to trade agreements.

For Barack Obama, hope can triumph over anything, except for open trade with a neighboring country with an economy 1/20th the size of ours. Then, all is despair. Obama's culprit is Mexico, our third-largest trading partner. It is trade deals like NAFTA -- the 1993 accord eliminating tariffs among the U.S., Mexico, and Canada -- that 'ship jobs overseas and force parents to compete with teenagers for minimum wage at Wal-Mart,' Obama intones. Feel inspired yet? . . .

"Obama always says that politicians should tell voters what they need -- not what they want -- to hear. But no one in the Democratic party will emphatically say that trade is a net benefit to the U.S., even if it brings painful -- and ultimately unavoidable -- dislocations. Hillary Clinton always was lukewarm about NAFTA, and even Bill is skittering away from his legacy.