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January 12, 2010

Right Wing Catches On That Conservative Trade Policies Hurt Us

-- by Dave Johnson

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Be afraid. Over at The Drudge Report, under a photo of a Chinese soldier (but no siren), are three headlines:

Scary Chinese soldier

CHINA ENDS AMERICA'S REIGN AS LARGEST AUTO MARKET...

Becomes biggest exporter, edging out Germany...

China banks eclipse American rivals...

So OK, conservatives seem to be FINALLY starting to notice that their so-called "free trade" policies caused a problem!

When Ronald Reagan took office we had a trade surplus with China - we exported to China more than we imported from China. But the conservative "free market" ideologues said that "the market" must determine everything instead of the people in our democracy, that government is bad, that "free trade" lifts all boats, etc. -- even though there is no such thing as "free" trade or "free" markets... They negotiated trade agreements guaranteed to give away our strong trade position, stopped enforcing old or new trade laws, and got rid of any idea of having a national industrial policy.

By the time Bill Clinton took office instead of a trade surplus we had a trade deficit with China of almost $23 billion - importing from China much, much more than we exported to them. Under President Clinton, influenced by conservative "free trade" arguments, this trade deficit grew to $83 billion.

Then, under George W. Bush this trade deficit grew to $268 billion in a single year! Time after time Bush refused to enforce trade agreements and the imbalance just got worse and worse.

UsChinaTradeDeficit(WSJ)

By last year the trade imbalance with China was 69% of our entire trade deficit.

20090723_intl_pict_china_trade (EPI)

So NOW the conservatives are looking at what they have done, and they are very afraid. They borrowed from China year after year, and now they are afraid that China will use all that borrowed money to collapse the dollar. If you are on any right-wing mail lists half of the emails you receive are saying that dollar could collapse any minute.

So a big headline at Drudge! I guess even they are ready to admit that their policies were bad for the country.

Posted by Dave Johnson at January 12, 2010 7:29 PM


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