From Barron’s and Thomas Donlan, Trading Promises About the Trans-Pacific Partnership-Politicians are the threat to rising incomes and global prosperity.
The AFL-CIO and much of the Democratic Party at large (though thankfully not the White House) are working their way toward outright protectionism. They have convinced themselves that the North American Free Trade Agreement caused most of the U.S. manufacturing decline, and they expect the same from every new trade agreement.
In a political sense, this is not unreasonable, because trade agreements do facilitate globalization, technological change and increased productivity, wherever they take place. It happens that many of the U.S. industries most affected are older industries that were unionized and cartelized before they faced international competition.
But trade agreements are a small part of the overall trend and don’t cause serious job losses in the U.S. that wouldn’t have taken place otherwise. Unions and their friends just want to preserve political power.
Even in the supposedly halcyon days of the 1950s and 1960s, U.S. businesses were moving overseas to serve new markets and find greater opportunities for productive investment. With regulation and taxation, the U.S. has been pushing jobs out of the country for decades, with cumulative effects that can’t be cured with more laws, more regulation, and more taxation.