Presidential Candidate Ron Paul has a decidedly mixed record on trade policy. He often votes against trade agreements because he sees them as “managed trade” and an interference with true free trade. Well, ok, but that’ s like voting against income tax cuts because you think the IRS shouldn’t exist. I get the point, but c’mon…
In any event, he was the only participant in Thursday night’s debate between the Republican presidential candidates who spoke about trade with any sense at all. As Inside US Trade [subscription required] points out, trade policy was not a prominent theme of the debate, but that didn’t stop Mitt Romney from (again) spouting nonsense about balanced trade:
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney late last week took a swipe at the trade policies of the Obama administration in a debate of the Republican presidential candidates by implying they are unbalanced in favor of other nations.
As part of a seven‐point list of actions to turn around the economy, Romney said the U.S. should “have trade policies that work for us, not just for our opponents,” as the third point…
(I’ll just interject here to say that by “opponents” I believe Mr Romney is referring to our trade partners. You know, the folks who sell us stuff and buy stuff from us. But I digress…)
Trade was only raised one other time during the debate. Prompted by a moderator, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) defended his earlier criticism of Obama’s sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program.
Saying it was “natural” that Iran would pursue nuclear weapons—given that India, Pakistan, China, and Israel also possess them—Paul attacked the sanctions policy as steering the U.S. toward conflict.
“Countries that you put sanctions on, you are more likely to fight them,” he said. “I say a policy of peace is free trade. Stay out of their internal business.”
Paul also suggested it was time for the U.S. to engage in a trading relationship with Cuba and “stop fighting these wars that are about 30 or 40 years old,” an apparent reference to the Cold War. [emphasis added]
(My friend Scott Lincicome has more on the economic illiteracy flowing from the debate here)
Mr Paul is right on this one. He and I no doubt disagree on a few issues, and on trade I have more tolerance than he does for multilateral (and, albeit to a lesser extent, bilateral and regional) trade agreements as the only likely avenues for trade liberalization in the foreseeable future. But the link between trade and peace is an important one, and often overlooked.
Speaking of Ron Paul, the following clip shows Jon Stewart at his devastating best, calling out the mainstream media—and particularly Fox News—for ignoring and/or outright mocking Ron Paul’s candidacy. Watch to the very end, you won’t regret it. (HT: RadleyBalko)
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon — Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Indecision 2012 — Corn Polled Edition — Ron Paul & the Top Tier|