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Shut Up, They Explained

The illiberal left.

May 12, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 33 • By FRED BARNES
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Free trade has gradually slipped from the liberal agenda. The short explanation is unions oppose free trade, so now liberals oppose it. This affected Obama’s strategy for winning approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He was too meek to lobby Democrats for “fast track” authority, barring amendments to the TPP treaty. Once he failed to get it, the Japanese balked at signing a treaty that might be tattooed with amendments and never gain ratification in Congress.

And let’s not forget tax reform. Liberals continue to say they are for it. Not quite. Liberals were leading voices for the tax reform in 1986 that eliminated preferences and loopholes, broadened the tax base, and cut rates. It passed the Senate 97-3. But that’s no longer the liberal formula. Obama’s version of tax reform is killing business tax breaks and spending the money rather than using it to reduce taxes.

Liberals have made one more change. They’ve become “progressives.” I’m not sure what that means. But a name change was appropriate, because the folks formerly known as liberals certainly aren’t very liberal anymore.

Fred Barnes is an executive editor at The Weekly Standard.

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