Saturday, September 17, 2011

Orthodoxy in the Balance

I was listening to the Laura Ingraham show the other day and heard an interesting conversation between Ingraham and her guest, Larry Kudlow. Discussing the prospects of various presidential contenders, Ingraham spoke warmly of Mitt Romney's pledge to be tough on the People's Republic of China for its currency manipulations, theft of intellectual property, and other barriers it puts up to foreign products. I could almost hear Ingraham's voice thrill as she mentioned "tariffs" as a possible tool to be used to compensate for PRC manipulations.

Kudlow did not act as might be expected: rather than denouncing such policies, he seemed positively inclined toward them. Kudlow is a pundit embodiment of Republican economic orthodoxy, so his response may be indicative here of a broader Republican souring on "free trade" myths (namely, that we even live in an era of "free trade").

If the part of correcting trade imbalances in Romney's economic plan is more than talk, this plan would represent a significant attempt to change the Republican position on trade policies since NAFTA: moving past the dogma of cheap imports toward one of a level playing field (with the aim of gaining and preserving high-paying jobs).

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