A Congressional Tutorial on the Benefits of Free Trade

A survey released this week found that almost 80 percent of members of Congress have no academic training in business or economics. Yet they debate and pass all kinds of legislation seeking to steer the economy, business and trade in one direction or another.

For those four out of five members, my column in the Washington Times this morning, “Free Trade 101 for members of Congress,” offers a crash course in the benefits of free trade and globalization for Americans. Here’s an excerpt from the lecture, er, column:

Protectionism is really a tax on the poor. Our highest remaining trade barriers unfairly tax products made and grown by poor people abroad and consumed disproportionately by poor families at home. We still impose unconscionably high tariffs on imported food, clothing, and shoes — the basics of a poor family’s budget. The $26 billion we collect each year from duties on imports represent the federal government’s most regressive tax. Free trade is a tax cut for the poor.
Trade is not about more jobs or fewer jobs; it’s about better jobs. Trade only accounts for 3 percent of job displacement. Technology and internal competition displace far more workers. Just ask folks laid off from Borders, Blockbuster or Kodak. (Bought any film lately?) Our high unemployment today has nothing to do with trade but with our “Made in the USA” housing bubble and failed stimulus.

Members of Congress who have any questions are welcome to visit with me during my normal office hours.