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Press Release - "In Case You Missed It": Cokie And Steven Roberts: "McCain Tells Truth About Trade"

March 08, 2008

"Even though eight of 10 Ohio voters said NAFTA cost the state jobs, McCain was courageous enough to tell a town-hall meeting in Rocky River: ... '[F]ree trade is the best thing that can happen to our nation. When we have practiced protectionism, it has had devastating consequences.' He's absolutely right. ... So far, on the trade issue, McCain is living up to his 'straight talk' reputation, while the Democrats are twisting the truth." -- Cokie Roberts and Steven Roberts

Excerpts From "McCain Tells Truth About Trade"

By Cokie Roberts and Steven Roberts

United Features Syndicate
March 7, 2008

Barack Obama lost the Democratic primary in Ohio, but there was another casualty during that campaign as well: the truth about trade.

Both Obama and Hillary Clinton blamed the North American Free Trade Agreement for the loss of more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs over the past 14 years. They even suggested scrapping the pact if Canada and Mexico don't agree to major revisions.

This might be good politics, but it's terrible policy. International commerce is a huge benefit to America, the world's largest exporting nation. Both Democrats know that, but they caved in to the close-minded, backward-looking voices in the labor movement who have turned trade into a five-letter curse word.

Contrast their pandering to the candor of John McCain, who repeated in Ohio the same message he used in Michigan: "Some of those manufacturing jobs are not coming back, and you know it and I know it."

Even though eight of 10 Ohio voters said NAFTA cost the state jobs, McCain was courageous enough to tell a town-hall meeting in Rocky River: "The economists that I know and trust and the history that I study ... says that free trade is the best thing that can happen to our nation. When we have practiced protectionism, it has had devastating consequences."

He's absolutely right. And interestingly, one of Obama's top economic advisers recently told two Canadian diplomats not to take his candidate's anti-trade fulminations too seriously. According to a memo written by the diplomats, the economist, Austan Goolsbee, indicated "that much of the rhetoric that may be perceived to be protectionist is more reflective of political maneuvering than policy."

Obama's received a lot of heat on that one as a deceitful hypocrite, but actually, we hope the memo does reflect his real feelings. Whoever carries the Democratic banner against McCain this fall would be much better off telling voters the truth about trade rather than distorting the facts to please their union supporters.

And here are the facts, as stated by Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, at Duke University several years ago: "Economists are often accused of not being able to agree on anything. Although we are indeed a contentious bunch, one proposition commands almost unanimous assent within the economics community. That proposition is that free trade among nations promotes economic prosperity." ...

But what of those 200,000 jobs lost in Ohio? Mexicans didn't replace those workers, machines did. As Professor Edward Hill of Cleveland State told the Toledo Blade: "The reason ... we lost jobs was not from trade. It was growth in productivity."

In fact, manufacturing in Ohio is booming. The state exported $42 billion worth of goods last year, a 12 percent increase in 12 months. Yes, jobs are declining in traditional industries like steel and autos, but they are growing in other sectors. ...

But it's time for the demagoguery to end. Democratic politicians, and the news media, should get this story right. It's always easy to take a picture of a shuttered plant gate and interview a frustrated 55-year-old who worked there all his life. It's harder to find the 25-year-old who has a job making - and exporting - solar panels; or the parents who can afford a cheaper bike or sweater for their children because those items were made in China.

So far, on the trade issue, McCain is living up to his "straight talk" reputation, while the Democrats are twisting the truth.

Read The Full Column By Cokie Roberts And Steve Roberts: "McCain Tells Truth About Trade"

John McCain, Press Release - "In Case You Missed It": Cokie And Steven Roberts: "McCain Tells Truth About Trade" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/291858

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