Stop Being Partisan on So-Called "Free Trade"

Delegates hold signs in protest of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement on the first day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, July 25, 2016. (Photo: Jim Wilson / The New York Times)Delegates hold signs in protest of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement on the first day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, July 25, 2016. (Photo: Jim Wilson / The New York Times)

In recent days, President Obama and much of the Democratic establishment have doubled down in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), especially in light of Donald Trump’s measured speech Monday about his plan to cut taxes and renegotiate US trade deals. But it’s time to get something straight: This isn’t a partisan issue.

So-called free trade is bad for the US middle class, and it has been ever since Ronald Reagan, the Republican savior himself, declared that:

Almost all responsible economists … are unanimous. They agree that free and fair trade brings growth and opportunity and creates jobs. And they warn that high trade barriers, what is often called protectionism, undermines economic growth and destroys jobs. I don’t call it protectionism; I call it destructionism.

It’s been just over 30 years since Reagan proclaimed that, and every president since then has followed the religious belief that so-called “free trade” will save us all. And 30 years later, it’s pretty clear that Reagan was dead wrong about trade, and so are the Democrats today who are saying the same thing.

The fact is, sweeping trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the TPP and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) only benefit the CEOs of the corporations that are at the negotiating table.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

Democratic proponents of so-called free trade make it seem like the options are either antiquated tariff-based protectionism or forward-thinking globalist “free trade” deals.

But Democrats have historically been the party that opposes these sort of sweeping corporate-managed trade deals and supports the kind of tariff based — or VAT-tax based — trade that made the…

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