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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Voters Want Action on Trade

In These Times Senior Editor David Moberg has an article for Democrats seeking a sharper perspective on free trade vs. fair trade policy choices. Moberg’s article “Making Trade Work for Everyone: Voters aren’t happy with the reality of free trade—and Democrats are starting to listen” makes the case that trade is shaping up as a major issue in upcomming elections:

The November elections—when 37 House and Senate seats changed from “free trade” to “fair trade”—created a Democratic majority that needed to stake out a new position on trade. Globalization and offshoring of jobs ranked among the electorate’s top issues, according to polls by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Agenda. Results in key races indicate that Democrats could have picked up even more seats with a stronger message on global economic issues, according to an analysis by Chris Slevin and Todd Tucker of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, an organization critical of corporate-backed free trade.

Moberg offers some numbers to back his claim:

In a March Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, Americans agreed, by a margin of 46 percent to 28 percent, that trade deals have harmed the United States. And late last year, a Pew Research Center poll found that nearly 44 percent of the people surveyed thought free trade had lowered wages, compared to 11 percent who thought it had raised wages.

Moberg addresses a range of current trade-related concerns and reform proposals, including: making worker rights in nations we trade with a priority; job training; broader health care coverage; pension reform; unemployment insurance; currency revaluation; and a “strategic pause” in negotiating new trade agrements. For Dems wanting to get up to speed on trade issues, Moberg’s article is a keeper.

2 comments on “Voters Want Action on Trade

  1. William Duroe on

    I suggest that readers concerned about trade issues consult the writings of Eamonn Fingleton and James Fallows, They make two points essential to understanding the U.S. economic condition:
    1. Our economic policies have devalued manufacturing for the past 40 years; our trading partners have continued to push manufacturing. Thus, those trading partners have accumulated enormous trade surpluses and enjoy a much higher standard of living than Americans. American incomes and rates of income growth have declined accordingly.
    2. Our trading partners protect their home markets. The U.S. and a few others continue to light candles at the shrine of “Free Trade”.
    My conclusion is the the U.S. should establish tariffs on the exports of those nations enjoying large trade balances with the U.S. Those tariffs should be proportional to those trade surpluses.

  2. Bob Ray on

    Over 65 nations have USA as their number one or number two trading partner. These countries include some of the richest economies and lagest populations on earth. We are close to having a Trade Association of the Western Hemisphere, China Sea and Indian Ocean. The Democrats need to cope with trade by working for world wide health care and living wages — not protectionism.


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