Good News and Bad News on Trade


The good news: "President Obama to water down 'Buy American' plan after EU trade war threat," headlines The Times of London.

"I agree that we can't send a protectionist message," he said in an interview with Fox TV. "I want to see what kind of language we can work on this issue. I think it would be a mistake, though, at a time when worldwide trade is declining, for us to start sending a message that somehow we're just looking after ourselves and not concerned with world trade."

The bad news: What kind of historically illiterate, economically retrograde, and bogusly populist jerktards would even CONSIDER, for just one second, that a reasonable approach to this Great Depression 2.0 they keep telling us about is reviving the ghost of Smoot-Hawley? Not only are Democrats and their already unbearable apologists grossly misusing the analogy of Herbert Hoover (much in the way many continue to pretend that George W. Bush was a deregulation zealot), they're now going ahead and aping the 31st president's worst policies.

And don't let Obama's above-it-all filibustering fool you: As Reason has been documenting for two years, the president ran and won a campaign that on a daily basis bashed trade agreements, particularly with troubled Mexico and anxious China. And his party found success swapping its pro-trade stance of the mid-'90s for cheapjack "Buy America" bullshit in the late aughts. Former Reason editor Virginia Postrel points to one of many truly horrible possible consequences of a more protectionist America:

A trade war threatens to exacerbate the single largest danger in the worldwide downturn: that a serious contraction in China will lead to domestic unrest and that that the Chinese government will engage in military aggression to focus frustration outward.