The Dems dishonesty on trade

David Ignatius:


"This anti-trade talk is dangerous nonsense, and the Democrats should be embarrassed by it. It suggests to U.S. workers that there is an alternative to change and adaptation -- to getting the skills that are necessary to compete in an increasingly competitive world. That's wrong, most of all because it misleads people about their real options. Rather than helping workers build a bridge to the future, as Clinton tried to do, these Democrats talk as if they want to build a roadblock. Shame on them.

"Shame on the Republicans, too, for disowning the administration's chief economist, Gregory Mankiw. He made the 'gaffe' (a Washington term for stating something that is true but politically embarrassing) of saying that 'outsourcing' jobs abroad can be beneficial, by lowering costs and improving efficiency.

"In economic terms, Mankiw's statement was utterly noncontroversial (unless you imagine that it's good for workers if companies have high costs and go out of business). But in the trade mania of the moment, it was death -- and even President Bush seemed ready to throw Mankiw overboard. Clinton, it's worth remembering, was attacked in pre-bubble 1996 for the slow growth of wages in the United States, much as Bush is now savaged for the 'jobless recovery.' Clinton's treasury secretary, Robert Rubin, responded, 'The best answer to stagnant wages is consistent economic growth.'...


"Greenspan's gospel is simple, and backed by hard numbers: 'Over the long sweep of American generations and waves of economic change we simply have not experienced a net drain of jobs to advancing technology or to other nations.' That was Clinton's faith, too, and it gave him the discipline to resist politically popular policies that would have undermined economic growth."


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