David Ricardo rolls over in his grave
Democratic Gains Raise Roadblocks To Free-Trade Push
The Democrats' sweep of Congress is set to deliver a blow to President Bush's free-trade ambitions and could hamper impending trade deals both big and small.
Democrats' stances against free trade helped build the party's success at the polls and could tip the balance on trade matters. The new dynamic could put a definitive end to the already troubled effort to reach a global agreement to reduce tariffs and open markets, known as the Doha round. It also could put in jeopardy smaller deals such as those the U.S. has crafted with Peru and Colombia, intended to boost two-way trade by lowering tariffs and increasing intellectual-property protections.
Two dozen tightly contested races turned partly on Democrats' protectionist platforms, according to Public Citizen, a liberal advocacy group. All told, 16 incoming "trade skeptics" are set to replace "trade friendly" Republicans in the House, according to a study by the Swiss Institute for International Economics at the University of St. Gallen. Five new Senate Democrats are viewed as more critical on trade than were their opponents.
"The House and Senate are going to exert themselves on trade much more aggressively," vows Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown, whose successful campaign against free-trade Republican Sen. Mike DeWine was built on opposition to the Bush trade agenda.