ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Few Friends of Free Trade

If this poll is accurate, it appears that the future of the global economy may be in trouble. At least the NoImpact / Luddite-left will be pleased when we're all forced to live in squalor.

Republicans Grow Skeptical On Free Trade
By JOHN HARWOOD
October 4, 2007; Page A1

WASHINGTON -- By a nearly two-to-one margin, Republican voters believe free trade is bad for the U.S. economy, a shift in opinion that mirrors Democratic views and suggests trade deals could face high hurdles under a new president.

The sign of broadening resistance to globalization came in a new Wall Street Journal-NBC News Poll4 that showed a fraying of Republican Party orthodoxy on the economy. While 60% of respondents said they want the next president and Congress to continue cutting taxes, 32% said it's time for some tax increases on the wealthiest Americans to reduce the budget deficit and pay for health care.

Wow.. at least there is some good news! Oh, wait... that's 32% of REPUBLICAN voters... yikes!
Six in 10 Republicans in the poll agreed with a statement that free trade has been bad for the U.S. and said they would agree with a Republican candidate who favored tougher regulations to limit foreign imports. That represents a challenge for Republican candidates who generally echo Mr. Bush's calls for continued trade expansion, and reflects a substantial shift in sentiment from eight years ago.

"It's a lot harder to sell the free-trade message to Republicans," said Republican pollster Neil Newhouse, who conducts the Journal/NBC poll with Democratic counterpart Peter Hart. The poll comes ahead of the Oct. 9 Republican presidential debate in Michigan sponsored by the Journal and the CNBC and MSNBC television networks.

The leading Republican candidates are still trying to promote free trade. "Our philosophy has to be not how many protectionist measures can we put in place, but how do we invent new things to sell" abroad, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said in a recent interview. "That's the view of the future. What [protectionists] are trying to do is lock in the inadequacies of the past."

Such a stance is sure to face a challenge in the 2008 general election. Though President Bill Clinton famously steered the Democratic Party toward a less-protectionist bent and promoted the North American Free Trade Agreement, his wife and the current Democratic front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has adopted more skeptical rhetoric. Mrs. Clinton has come out against a U.S. trade deal with South Korea.

Other leading Democrats have been harshly critical of trade expansion, pleasing their party's labor-union backers. In a March 2007 WSJ/NBC poll, before recent scandals involving tainted imports, 54% of Democratic voters said free-trade agreements have hurt the U.S., compared with 21% who said they have helped.

While rank-and-file Democrats have long blasted the impact of trade on American jobs, slipping support among Republicans represents a fresh warning sign for free-market conservatives and American companies such as manufacturers and financial firms that benefit from markets opening abroad.

With voters provoked for years by such figures as Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot, "there's been a steady erosion in Republican support for free trade," says former Rep. Vin Weber, now an adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
[...]

And of course this is just more proof that relentless, anecdotal, and biased stories on how free trade hurts the average person can have an impact over time. Of the myriad of stories about the outsourcing of America, etc, there are only a few that show the positive aspects - the reality - of free trade.

Most people would say that the state of US Manufacturing is in its death-throes. But when Dick Cheney said that about the insurgency in Iraq, he was wrong at predicting the future. When people think that about today's economy, they just don't know the facts. Here's a quiz from Cafe Hayek from a few weeks back which is just great:
[...]
the state of manufacturing in the U.S. is quite strong. To learn more, take this quiz:

1) In what year did U.S. Manufacturing output reach its all-time peak?
a. 1966 b. 1976 c. 1986 d. 1996 e. 2006

2) In what year did U.S. Manufacturing revenue reach its all-time peak? (inflation adjusted)
a. 1966 b. 1976 c. 1986 d. 1996 e. 2006

3) In what year did U.S. Manufacturing profits reach their all-time peak? (inflation adjusted)
a. 1966 b. 1976 c. 1986 d. 1996 e. 2006

4) In what year did U.S. Manufacturing exports reach their all-time peak? (inflation adjusted)
a. 1966 b. 1976 c. 1986 d. 1996 e. 2006

5) Average annual compensation (wages + benefits) for US manufacturing jobs is
a. $36,000 b. $46,0000 c. $56,0000 d. $66,000

6) What are the relative sizes of the US and Chinese manufacturing sectors?
a. China outputs 2.5 times the US b. Equal c. The US outputs 2.5 times China

7) Which country produces the largest share of total world manufacturing output?
a. China b. Japan c. Germany d. France e. US

Answers:
  1. e. 2006 (Source: Economic Report of the President, 2007)
  2. e. 2006 (Source: Bureau of the Census)
  3. e. 2006 (Source: Bureau of the Census)
  4. a. 2006 (Source: U.S. International Trade Commission)
  5. d. $66,414 (Source: National Association of Manufacturers)
  6. c. The U.S. output is 2.5 times as much as China (Source: U.N. Industrial Development Org.)
  7. e. U.S. manufacturing output is 21 percent of world total (Source: U,N. Industrial Development Org.)

Perhaps it's time to start teaching basic econ & finance in high school...

H/T Instapundit

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler