Republicans Seem to Be Falling Off the Globalist Bandwagon…

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There are signs of increasing resistance to globalization in a new Wall Street Journal-NBC News Poll. Sixty percent of Republican respondents said they agreed with the 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.

Now that is interesting to say the least. 

While Bush continues to call for continued global trade expansion, the rest of his party is having second thoughts which reflects a substantial shift in sentiment from eight years ago when King George could say or do no wrong. Leading Republican candidates are still trying to promote free trade though. “Our philosophy has to be not how many protectionist measures can we put in place, but how do we invent new things to sell” said former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. “That’s the view of the future. What protectionists are trying to do is lock in the inadequacies of the past.”

No Rudy – what protectionists are trying to do is save he middle class from ruin. 

President Clinton championed a less-protectionist bent by promoting the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) during his administration, however his wife, and the current Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, uses more skeptical rhetoric, going as far as coming out against a U.S. trade deal with South Korea altogether. Other leading Democrats have been harshly critical of trade expansion as well. In a March 2007 Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, 54% of Democratic voters said free-trade agreements have hurt the U.S., compared with 21% who said they have helped. This, along with eroding support among Republicans represents a fresh challenge to free-market conservatives and greedy American companies that benefit from cheap labor abroad, and unrestricted wage leverage when dealing American workers.

On Chris Matthew’s show Hardball recently, Robert Reich, a longtime supporter of the globalist ideal, had difficulty deflecting barbs from Pat Buchanan when dealing with the subjects of worker security, real living wages and the eroding dollar. To be perfectly honest, Reich’s answers seemed a bit trite and somewhat academic in tone. He had no real answers regarding what has happened. 

Even relatively small trade deals are facing resistance. Trade pacts with Peru and Panama still have a chance of passing in the current congressional term, however deals with South Korea and Colombia are in serious jeopardy. Some legislators believe South Korea isn’t opening its market wide enough to American beef and autos. Presidential “fast track” trade negotiating authority has lapsed as well. Without such authority, which requires Congress to take an up-or-down vote on trade deals, the next president would have trouble pursuing large trade agreements at all. 

Beyond trade, Republicans appear to be seeking a move away from the president on everything else, and with good reason. Everything else is a mess. Asked in general terms, a 48% plurality of Republicans said the next president should “take a different approach” from Bush, while 38% wanted to continue on his ideological path. In that poll, Giuliani maintained his lead in the Republican field with support from 30% of respondents. Former Sen. Fred Thompson drew 23% in the survey, and 15% for Sen. John McCain. 

“We’re seeing a lot of jobs farmed out,” said Mr. Pirtle, whose father works for General Motors Corp., – concerned by reports of safety problems with Chinese imports, he added, “The stuff we are getting, looking at all the recalls, to be quite honest, it’s junk.”

In the Republican campaign so far, elevating populist trade concerns has been left to the long shots. “The most important thing a president needs to do is to make it clear that we’re not going to continue to see jobs shipped overseas….and then watch as a CEO takes a $100 million bonus,” said Mike Huckabee, “If Republicans don’t stop it, we don’t deserve to win in 2008.”

We can only hope that the tide of anti-globalism takes firm root and some of the front runners begin to wise up.

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Posted on October 12, 2007, in Economic Policy, Globalism, Law, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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