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4/19/16

TTIP: U.S. Trade Policy: Populist Anger or Out-of-Touch Elites? - by Jeff Faux,

Nobody wants it except the
Corporate and Government elites
The presidential primary campaigns of both political parties have exposed widespread voter anger over U.S. global trade policies. In response, hardly a day has recently gone by without the New York Times, the Washington Post and other defenders of the status quo lecturing their readers on why unregulated foreign trade is good for them.

The ultimate conclusion is always the same – that voters should leave complicated issues like this to those intellectually better qualified to deal with them. So much for democracy.

Trade experts, according to Binyamin Appelbaum of the Times have been “surprised” at the popular discontent over this issue. Their surprise only shows how disconnected the elite and the policy class that supports it is from the way most people actually experience the national economy.

The United States has always been a trading nation. But until the 1994 North American Trade Agreement, trade policy was primarily an instrument to support domestic economic welfare and development.

Starting with NAFTA, pushed through not by a Republican president, but by the Bill Clinton in 1994, it became a series of deals in which profit opportunities for American investors were opened up elsewhere in the world in exchange for opening up U.S. labor markets to fierce foreign competition.

As Jorge Castañeda, who later became Mexico’s foreign minister, put it, NAFTA was “an agreement for the rich and powerful in the United States, Mexico and Canada, an agreement effectively excluding ordinary people in all three societies.”

For 20 years, leaders of both parties have assured Americans that each new NAFTA-style deal would bring more jobs and higher wages for workers, and trade surpluses for their country. It was, they were told, an iron law of economics.

What actually followed were outsourced jobs, wage declines, shrunken opportunities and rising trade deficits. The result has been a dramatic weakening of the bargaining power of American workers.

So it should come as no surprise when the large parts of the U.S. workforce now conclude that these trade deals may have had something to do with the redistribution of income from their pockets to the bank accounts of the top 1% who own and manage large multinational corporations.

Read more: U.S. Trade Policy: Populist Anger or Out-of-Touch Elites? - The Globalist

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