I'm probably one of the few people on the planet who views candidate's trade policy as a key determinant of whether I'll vote for him/her. That's kinda crazy, I know, but if you study trade policy and politics like I do, you realize pretty quickly that a candidate's stance on free trade is quite predictive of whether he/she generally puts facts and principle before politics and self-interest. You see, public figures who support free trade and reject protectionism are pretty brave souls. They turn down eager corporate and union donations from those unseemly rent-seekers who seek to thwart international competition at the expense of American companies and families. They ignore attacks on their patriotism from misguided demagogues. And they openly push policies which, despite their overwhelming economic and historical support, are met with public hostility and ignorance and an unethical opposition willing to take full advantage thereof.
On the other hand, those who freely discard their free market, trade liberalization ideals (or who never had them in the first place) are either ignorant of basic law and economics or are willing to eschew those facts in order to gain a short-term political advantage based on misunderstood public opinion polls. Neither option is very flattering and each raises serious questions as to the candidate's fitness as a leader and public servant.
I'm happy to say that the candidate I'm advising is a principled free trader (and was so long before I began advising him). I have no idea if he'll be the next president or even the GOP nominee, but I'm confident that I'll have no regrets being affiliated with this campaign.
So with that, here are a few links to get things started:
- Cato's Dan Ikenson explains why the China currency legislation on which the Senate will likely vote this week is a "desperate mistake." Key line: "Instead of working hard to change homegrown U.S. policies that inhibit investment, job creation, and growth, our elected officials would choose to lay the blame for our woes at China’s feet, then cross their fingers and hope that their provocative, unilateralist legislation doesn’t unleash a torrent of adverse consequences that would make economic matters even worse. Can there be a stronger admission of failure than to launch such a desperate Hail Mary?"
- NRO's Kevin Williamson details why "Mitt Romney's still wrong on China." My favorite passage: "If I thought Mitt Romney were just being a Machiavellian calculator, I might be a little more kindly disposed to him: I am all for Machiavellian calculators in the White House, provided they are ruthlessly pursuing our national interests. But I half-suspect that Mr. Romney half-believes what is coming out of his mouth, which is worrisome. If he really intends to slap a 25 percent tariff on Chinese goods, he is embarking on a dangerous and destructive path."
- The Club for Growth explains why its asking lawmakers to vote NO on the China currency legislation. Their reason: "This is a disastrous proposal that would increase taxes on American consumers, stall the economic recovery, and spark an ugly trade war that would benefit no one." But other than that...
- Cafe Hayek's Don Boudreaux pens an open letter to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the latest presidential hopeful (joining Govs. Romney and Huntsman) to signal support for the China currency bill in the Senate. He asks: "Now that you’ve aligned yourself with America’s screechy protectionists, who insist that it’s harmful for Americans to have too much access to low-priced imports, I’ve a question for you. Would you applaud if Beijing erects a partial blockade against America – a blockade in which Chinese naval and air forces forcibly reduce America’s imports to levels that you and, say, Sen. Chuck Schumer determine are ‘appropriate’?" Boudreaux sent another letter to the New York Times after it published an anti-China op-ed from C. Fred Bergsten, who relies heavily (solely?) on the US-China trade deficit to support his calls for unilateral US action against China.
- Meanwhile, the WSJ reports that currency traders continue to put downward pressure on the Yuan, even as China's Central Bank is trying to appreciate the currency. Hmm.