Eroding GOP Support for Free Trade

A recent Wall Street Journal-NBC poll shows Republican voters would support a Republican candidate who favored tougher regulations to limit foreign imports–another sign of growing American resistance to globalization.

In an article for the Wall Street Journal John Hardwood writes about the shift: “slipping support among Republicans represents a fresh warning sign for free-market conservatives and American companies such as manufacturers and financial firms that benefit from markets opening abroad.”

In a December 1999 Wall Street Journal-NBC poll, 31 percent of Republicans said free trade had hurt the economy. In 2007, 59 percent agree foreign trade has hurt the economy.

As Matthew Hennessey points out in Fairer Globalization, this resonates with recent report about globalization’s resulting income inequality and the rising protectionism in the United States by of Kenneth F. Scheve, Professor of Political Science at Yale University, and Matthew J. Slaughter, Professor of Economics at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and Adjunct Senior Fellow for Business and Globalization at the Council on Foreign Relations:

Globalization has brought huge overall benefits, but earnings for most U.S. workers–even those with college degrees–have been falling recently; inequality is greater now than at any other time in the last 70 years. Whatever the cause, the result has been a surge in protectionism. To save globalization, policymakers must spread its gains more widely. The best way to do that is by… instituting a New Deal for globalization–one that links engagement with the world economy to a substantial redistribution of income. In the United States, that would mean adopting a fundamentally more progressive federal tax system. The notion of more aggressively redistributing income may sound radical, but ensuring that most American workers are benefiting is the best way of saving globalization from a protectionist backlash.

Read the entire article at Foreign Affairs.

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