Canada Kefluffle

Man, the Goolsbee thing sure is awesome. I mean, the timing is far from ideal; it would have been nice for this to come out after Ohio. But it is quite nice, after all of the painful NAFTA-bashing of the past few weeks, to hear someone from a major Democratic campaign pointing out that repealing NAFTA would be, y’know, insane. It’s things like this that lead liberal free-traders like Jagdish Bhagwati to conclude that Obama’s better on trade than Clinton, less tied to the economically illiterate populist elements of the party.
Which reminds me: Chris Bowers is crazy. Choosing Sherrod Brown as a VP nominee would be a very, very bad idea. For one thing, his is a safe seat in a swing state, one which could easily go Republican if contested in an open special election in 2010; this is the same reason why Obama shouldn’t pick Jim Webb. But most importantly, Brown has made his name through protectionism, and not just Rodrik/Stiglitz-style skepticism about the Washington Consenus. No, Brown argues that free trade qua free trade doesn’t cause economic growth in either of the countries involved. Obviously, that’s just factually wrong; a serious critique of US trade policy would focus on the distribution of the gains from trade, or on the specific provisions of trade agreements. But Brown doesn’t make those critiques. His critique is based on denial of basic economics, of what’s been known to be true since David Ricardo was writing 200 years ago. On most issues, Brown is a good Democrat, but on the issue to which he devotes most of his attention he’s an embarrassment, both to himself and to the party. If he were to be put on a national ticket, I’d really have to hold my nose when filling out my ballot.

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