BusinessWeek Hypes Downside of Free Trade, Ignores Positives

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It's the kind of rhetoric legislators in Congress were probably hearing following the economic downturn that occurred in 1929, which instigated the infamous Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 that sent U.S. tariff rates sky high. That is, the February 11 issue of BusinessWeek, showing all the disadvantages of free trade for the United States and ignoring the advantages.

An article, "Economists Rethink Free Trade," by BusinessWeek Washington Bureau Chief Jane Sasseen ignored the benefits of free trade and the consequences of enacting anti-free trade policies.

"Yet concern is rising that the gains from free trade may increasingly be going to a small group at the top," Sasseen wrote. "For the vast majority of Americans, Dartmouth's [Matthew J.] Slaughter points out, income growth has all but disappeared in recent years. And it's not just the low-skilled who are getting slammed."

Sasseen referred to an article co-written by Slaughter in the July/August 2007 issue Foreign Affairs. What's Slaughter's plan to combat the crisis? Slaughter sees "a need for some form of income redistribution to spread the gains from free trade to more workers"

"In a controversial article Slaughter co-wrote last summer for Foreign Affairs, he proposed ‘A New Deal for Globalization' in which payroll taxes for all workers earning below the national median income level would be eliminated," Sasseen wrote. "Slaughter has talked with campaign advisers in both parties. So far, he has no takers. But it's one more sign of how far the trade debate has moved."

Sasseen one-side article sought the perspective from the top two Democratic presidential candidate's economic advisers - Gene Sperling for Hillary Clinton and Austan D. Goolsbee for Barack Obama. However, she didn't include an economic adviser from any of the Republican presidential candidates.