Economy

Free Trade a Clear Wedge Issue in '08 Election

With McCain for NAFTA and Obama critical of it, trade is sure to be on the minds of voters in November.
The Dayton Daily News had a piece that looked at the role of trade in the elections that cited our 2006 analysis:
Lori Wallach of Global Trade Watch said in 2004 and 2000, voters saw little difference between Democrats John Kerry and Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush on the trade issue. So those voters -- often white and working-class -- voted based on what she calls "secondary" social issues.
This year, she predicts, the vast differences between Barack Obama and John McCain on the issue -- McCain defends NAFTA and U.S. trade policy; Obama is critical -- will mean voters will consider trade when they cast their ballots.
"It's really a clean, wedge issue," she said.
[Sen. Sherrod] Brown [D-OH] said the 2006 election is part of the reason candidates now are paying so much attention to the issue. "I think Barack wins the state in part because of trade, pure and simple," he said.
Sen. Brown also wrote a letter to the New York Times Magazine about the awful Roger Lowenstein piecefrom a few weeks ago:
Lowenstein knows that trade deals are not just about tariffs; they are about intellectual property protections and investor protections and labor protections and environmental protections. They can be written to benefit most people or some people. They can be written to give some companies a windfall or most companies a fair shake. They can be written with the best interests of workers and investors in mind, or to favor one over the other. Trade policy is a series of decisions; it's not black or white.
Todd Tucker is research director with Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch.