MORE TRADE….If you’re interested in some more free trade bloggery, Dan Drezner has responded to the questions I asked on Monday. Here’s his take on why he’s so adamant about pushing free trade even though trade is already pretty darn open:
The trouble with populism is (mostly) not about the remaining 10% of barriers to trade (though see below), it’s about efforts to f$%& up the 90% of barriers that have been dismantled. The Baucus-Grassley-Schumer-Graham bill, for example, isn’t about halting new trade openings — it’s about finding new ways to clamp down on existing openness.
Furthermore, this is never going to go away. Protectionism is a great way to reward concentrated interests with diffuse costs, so members of Congress will always have an incentive to act in this way.
There’s something to this. The Baucus bill doesn’t get me all that excited, though. It’s all about China bashing, a perennial favorite among politicians for at least the last 20 years, and it rarely goes anywhere. It probably won’t go anywhere this time either. (Though, granted, that’s partly because of people like Dan.)
In any case, the big issue is what to do to mitigate the effects of trade agreements on the working class, and Dan has some good suggestions. However, I asked for things that “conservatives wouldn’t assault like mad dogs until the last breath was torn kicking and screaming from their bodies,” and I’m not sure any them qualify. Conservatives should feel free to set me straight if I’m wrong about that.