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Don’t Give Him What He Wants

Beware Obama’s trade deals.

Jan 27, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 19 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
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None of this is to say that America is a pure-as-the-driven-snow free trader. Fed policy of running the printing presses overtime has kept the dollar lower than it might otherwise be, and our trading partners are not wrong to call this a form of currency manipulation. Australia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and New Zealand, partners in the TPP, are not wrong when they complain about our restrictions on imports of sugar, dairy products, textiles, apparel, and footwear.

Nor is support for freer trade inappropriate at all times. But it might not be the optimal time to sign on to comprehensive changes in the way the world does business when (1) any deals we sign now confer enormous additional powers on a president not bound by the Founders’ notion of checks and balances; (2) these deals are negotiated in a world in which the leading trading nation is distorting the flow of trade; (3) the deals might well contribute to income inequality and the consequent further loss of faith in market capitalism; and (4) we do not have in place effective programs to relieve the plight of the innocent bystanders who constitute the collateral damage of globalization. 

It might, instead, be a time for Republicans who historically bow to the wishes of corporate America to ask if what is good for American corporations is always good for Americans, and if freer trade at this particular moment serves the conservative objective of sustaining support for market capitalism.

Irwin M. Stelzer is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard, director of -economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute, and a columnist for the Sunday Times (London).

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