(This post is from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)
Like almost every elite Democrat, Larry Summers is so enamored of corporate globalization that he’ll say just about anything in its defense — even unfairly trash his own political party.
Summers, who was treasury secretary under Bill Clinton and head of Obama’s National Economic Council, recently declaimed that “one of our major parties [i.e., the Democrats] is opposed to essentially all trade agreements …”
That’s maddeningly false in two ways.
First, the President of the United States strongly supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He’s a Democrat. The Senate Finance Committee just approved its fast track bill, with a majority of Democratic senators voting for it.
Second, while the base of the Democratic party does strongly oppose the TPP, and opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement in the early 1990s, it’s completely untrue that it opposes any trade agreements. One of main slogans of the opposition to the version of NAFTA that was enacted in 1994 was “Not This NAFTA.”
Regarding the TPP, Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, says, “if we had a trade deal that focused on improving the living standards of the typical worker it would get plenty of support from Democrats.” Baker specifically suggests “strong rules on currency values, so we could reduce the trade deficit,” the reduction of the “patent and related protection” that currently make pharmaceutical drugs more expensive, and measures to open up highly-paid U.S. professionals to international competition. (I briefly worked for Baker at CEPR 15 years ago.)
Summers’s statement is a signal of tribal identification: if you’re a member of the Democratic party’s elite, you simply never acknowledge any rational opposition exists to the current model of economic globalization, just as if you’re a butler at Buckingham Palace, you never say, “I think the queen is just some old lady.”
(And here’s the worst part: some of the rest of what Summers said was fairly reasonable.)
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