June 4, 2013 2:58PM

Congratulations to the Free Traders of the 112th Congress

Do you remember the 112th Congress—the one that repeatedly almost shut down the government while still managing to raise taxes and spending? It turns out they did some interesting things with trade policy. The votes recorded in Cato’s congressional trade votes database have been counted, tabulated, and analyzed, and the results are mixed. The predictable legislative outcome was that with a Republican House and Democratic Senate, the 112th Congress furthered the bipartisan establishment trade policy of reciprocal tariff reduction and unilateral subsidy expansion.

The more interesting revelations come from looking at the voting records of individual members. Rather than simply noting whether a policy would promote or diminish free trade or would increase or decrease America’s engagement in the global economy, Cato’s Free Trade, Free Markets methodology distinguishes between barriers (like tariffs and quotas) and subsidies (like loan guarantees, tax credits, and price supports). This distinction enables us to place members within a two-dimensional matrix.

Media Name: matrix.gif

Free traders are those that oppose both barriers and subsidies. Interventionists are those that support both barriers and subsidies. Isolationists are those that support barriers but oppose subsidies. Internationalists are those that oppose barriers but support subsidies. 

The release of this report offers a wonderful opportunity to name names. First I’d like to point out that last term, three Republican representatives voted consistently to support trade barriers. Just to be clear, these barriers are taxes expressly intended to prevent you from buying things you want. The representatives are Walter Jones of North Carolina, Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, and Steve LaTourette of Ohio. While Walter Jones consistently opposed subsidies (making him the House’s only isolationist last term), Messrs. LoBiondo and LaTourette joined 115 Democrats as interventionists.

With that unpleasantness out of the way, I would like to offer my congratulations and gratitude to the 112th Congress’s free traders. There were 19 in the Senate and 85 in the House. The high number of free traders in the House last term is due mostly to the fact that there was only one trade subsidy vote; if there were more, I’m sure many of these names would disappear from the list, but many would not and they all deserve credit nonetheless.

Free Traders in the House of Representatives for the 112th Congress: Free Traders in the Senate for the 112th Congress:
Sandy Adams



Kelly Ayotte
Todd Akin



John Boozman
Justin Amash



Tom Coburn
Charles Bass



Bob Corker
Diane Black



John Cornyn
Marsha Blackburn



Jim DeMint
Paul Broun



Lindsey Graham
Michael Burgess



Chuck Grassley
Quico Canseco



Orrin Hatch
Steve Chabot



Dean Heller
Jason Chaffetz



Jim Inhofe
Mike Coffman



Jon Kyl
Mike Conaway



Mike Lee
John Culberson



John McCain
Jeff Duncan



Mitch McConnell
Blake Farenthold



Rand Paul
Stephen Fincher



Rob Portman
Jeff Flake



Jeff Sessions
Chuck Fleischmann



Pat Toomey
John C. Fleming




Randy Forbes




Trent Franks




Cory Gardner




Scott Garrett




Phil Gingrey




Louie Gohmert




Paul Gosar




Tom Graves




Tim Griffin




Ralph Hall




Richard Hanna




Andy Harris




Joe Heck




Jeb Hensarling




Wally Herger




Tim Huelskamp




Bill Huizenga




Lynn Jenkins




Sam Johnson




Tim Johnson




Jim Jordan




Steve King




Jack Kingston




Raul Labrador




Doug Lamborn




Leonard Lance




Jeff Landry




James Lankford




Bob Latta




Kenny Marchant




Tom McClintock




Jeff Miller




Mick Mulvaney




Randy Neugebauer




Kristi Noem




Alan Nunnelee




Steven Palazzo




Erik Paulsen




Tom Petri




Ted Poe




Mike Pompeo




Bill Posey




Thomas Price




Ben Quayle




Todd Rokita




Thomas Rooney




Dennis Ross




Ed Royce




Paul Ryan




Steve Scalise




Jean Schmidt




David Schweikert




Austin Scott




Jim Sensenbrenner




Steve Southerland




Cliff Stearns




Marlin Stutzman




John Sullivan




Scott Tipton




Tim Walberg




Daniel Webster




Allen West




Lynn Westmoreland




Rob Woodal




Todd Young