Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Yesterday in Ohio, John McCain corrected a questioner who termed NAFTA a “bad four letters.” That earned a laugh for the senator, but no one challenged him when he said: “The answer to our problems is not the siren song of protectionism.” If you want to smear a proposal or an opponent these days, all you have to do is deploy that nine letter version of a four letter word. No need to discuss much after that.

Well, wait a minute. I don’t for a minute subscribe to anything that I consider to be “protectionist.” But I’m not running for president, so I think it’s McCain who needs to be pressed to explain what he means. Why doesn’t the traveling press corps ask the senator what he means? Is it “protectionist” to:

  • Enforce the nation’s trade laws as each president swears he will?
  • Seek redress whenever US rights under WTO and other international agreements are violated?
  • Resist mercantilist practices such as persistent currency undervaluation?
  • Seek an end to all trade-distorting subsidy practices, perhaps by tabling a proposal for end game of the Doha negotiations?
  • Rejecting further special interest provisions that hide under the mantle of “free trade”?

I’m sure voters everywhere would be interested in some “straight talk” on this subject. Instead of just telling us that lost jobs are not coming back, why not spend a little time and effort to inform the citizenry as to the steps that you would take to ensure that their “second chance” at the American Dream will be more promising than their first one?

I’m with Sen. Sherrod Brown who wrote in an op ed in today’s Wall Street Journal: “Let’s stop accusing one another of being protectionist. And let us agree that U.S. trade policy – writing the rules of globalization to protect our national interests and our communities – is worthy of vigorous national debate.”

Charles Blum

1 comment:

  1. I don't get NAFTA, why it was a hot topic when it was enacted or why politicians treat it like a hot potato now. I heard on NPR this week that it has become symbolic, a symbol of American job loss and economic decline, but that it is blamed for more than what it is responsible for. That's great, but I still don't really get it.