As if on cue, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm went on CNN this morning to discuss President Obama's new trade initiative and to explain away her administration's dreadful, job-killing policies by - you guessed it - scapegoating free trade (start at about 1:00):
In her attempts to blame Michigan's record unemployment on free trade, Granholm hits on many of the standard protectionist myths: (1) we don't manufacture anything anymore; (2) manufacturing job losses are due to import competition; (3) our trade agreements are unfair and unbalanced, and (4) our trading partners cheat. The only thing she didn't do was rail against the trade deficit (but maybe that's in the director's cut). Of course, one must wonder why a state like Texas didn't get hammered by the same "awful" trade policies, but that's a blog post for another time.
For now, let's focus on President Obama's new plan to sell free trade across America by focusing on increased exports and enforcement, while completely ignoring imports and the true state of US manufacturing and manufacturing employment. How exactly will that strategy silence Granholm and her fellow protectionists when it implicitly reinforces the very myths that they recklessly perpetuate? And what will happen if/when the US trade deficit - showing that we import more than we export - doesn't magically disappear?
(Answers: it won't, and it'll make things worse.)