Obama's decision to raise a tariff against China drew calls
of "trade war," but libertarian Michael C. Moynihan wondered
if there weren't deeper political implications as well. "What ever
happened to the free trade Democrat?" he asked. A steadfast free-trader
who opposes all tariffs and trade restrictions, Moynihan clearly
believes that Obama should feel the same way, and made a passionate
case against the Chinese tariffs. But why have Democrats, who in the
1990s so supported free trade they pushed through NAFTA, changed priorities? Moynihan wrote:
As Reason contributing editor David Weigel wrote
in 2008, NAFTA was "a New Democratic victory over the old union
elements of the party." But free-market Clintonism is dead, and the old
union elements have returned to their traditional place in the party.
Moynihan suggested the recession may be to blame. "His rush to protect "American jobs" in an economy where so few jobs are
currently available, Obama can claim that bone-headed protectionism has
a positive effect on American industry," he wrote, but seemed uncertain. Where have all the free-trade Democrats gone?
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