Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Recurring Feature: "Protectionist Campaigning for Dummies" (And a Lil' Taste of Upcoming Fare)

Given the overwhelming support I've received for my recent fisking of Congressman Gene Taylor's (D-MS) new anti-NAFTA legislation (see here, here, here and here), I've decided to start a recurring feature on this blog called "Protectionist Campaigning for Dummies."  In blog entries filed under this heading, I'll discuss and debunk the misstatements, protectionist myths and rhetorical tricks used by campaigning politicians (and their anonymous staff!) in 2010 to support new anti-trade legislation and/or their protectionist campaign ads, speeches and attacks.

I've also gone back to old blog entries that dealt with these issues (see, e.g., here and here) and have given them the same "PC4D" search label for ease of reference.  Given that 2010 promises to be a rather tough year for those most sympathetic to protectionist campaign rhetoric and fearmongering, these entries should have a lot of company very soon.  And hopefully, by the time the year is over, we'll have quite the library of protectionist BS and a whole boatload of quick, funny and factual rebuttals to said BS.  (I imagine that Unfrozen Caveman Politician will be making a lot of appearances this year!)

Fortunately for us, Sen. Arlen Specter (RD-PA) and his two co-sponsors - Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) - have been kind enough to provide my firstfourth PC4D target with their new legislation, the tritely-named "Unfair Foreign Competition Act of 2010" (apparently the "Dirty Imports Hurt Puppies and Babies Act of 2010" was taken).  According to the Senators' joint press release and Sen. Specter's floor statement introducing the legislation (S. 3080), the bill would allow domestic industries to go to US courts instead of the US International Trade Commission for a ruling whether imports of a certain product are "injuring" the that product's domestic manufacturer(s).  (Under US "trade remedies" law and WTO rules, "injury" must be found before the United States can impose remedial tariffs on imports in order to protect domestic industries.)

I've waited to discuss this bill, and the Senators' rampant protectionist myth-mongering in support of it, because the text of the legislation is still unavailable, even though it was officially introduced last week. (It's obviously hiding from me!)  And because this bill is a lot more complex than one which simply removes the US from NAFTA, I need the bill's actual text just to be sure I'm correctly criticizing everything.  That said, here's a little taste of the aforementioned press release, which is just chock-full of nonsense:
“Job creation and job retention in this country depend, in large part, on our ability to enforce existing trade laws,” Senator Specter said. “This legislation would give an injured industry the opportunity to seek reliable enforcement in federal court so that we can stop anticompetitive, predatory trade practices which steal jobs from our workers, profits from our companies, and growth from our economy.”

“Unfair trade practices have shipped Pennsylvania jobs oversees and increased our trade deficit," said Senator Casey. “One of the best job creations strategies is to make foreign governments play by the rules and create a level playing field for American workers.”

Senator Brown said: “If we’re going to create manufacturing jobs, we need to start enforcing trade law. American manufacturers can compete with anyone – but they need a level playing field. This bill would prevent a flood of unfairly-subsidized imports from shuttering our factories.”...

The legislation comes as China continues to engage in trade and market-distorting practices in violation of WTO rules and U.S. laws. By allowing countries like China to ignore international trade rules, the U.S. has lost countless manufacturing jobs and has a skyrocketing trade deficit. The latest trade numbers indicate that imports from China have exceeded U.S. exports by a staggering $208.6 billion.
This is gonna be fun.  (For me, at least.)

One final note: if you happen to find any really good stuff out there that I've missed (or simply forgotten to discuss), please feel free to send it along.  The more the merrier!


Unknown said...

Do you have a rebuttal? Have you seen the trade deficit? Have you see the job losses? Do you recognize the importance of manufacturing to national security and middle class creation at all? The idea of county might be a quaint concept to you but it is the only thing that can protect us from the disaster capitalism you preach.

Scott Lincicome said...

I have responded to john's comment here: http://lincicome.blogspot.com/2010/03/pc4d-dirty-foreign-cheaters-and-deja-vu.html