Dobbs Bashes South Korea Trade Deal
Does free trade kills jobs and drive Americans to the poor house? Or does it enrich Americansâ lives? A professionally-trained journalist such as CNNâs Lou Dobbs should present both sides of the debate, but heâs too busy fighting a âwarâ to be a neutral observer.
âFree trade agreements were supposed to help this country's middle class. Instead, they've killed millions of good-paying American jobs and creating even more disparity in wages between the poor and the wealthy,â complained Dobbs on his December 6 program. The senior business reporter and author of âThe War on the Middle Classâ was introducing the latest dispatch by Kitty Pilgrim.
Dobbs lamented that âthe Bush administration and corporate lobbyists, and now apparently members of both political partiesâ were âembracing a trade dealâ with South Korea âthat would be the largest since NAFTA.â Following Pilgrimâs report, the CNN anchor complained about â30 consecutive years of trade deficits,â as though that number was a manifestly self-evident indicator that free trade is harming Americaâs economy.
Itâs hardly the model of balanced journalism. But Dobbs told National Public Radioâs Bob Garfield in November he is âan advocacy journalist, and I make no pretense whatsoever of so-called objectivity.â Dobbs insisted his aim was to portray America as it really is.
âThe journalism I practice is based on our best efforts to obtain an independent, non-partisan reality that is shaping the lives of all Americans, and that's our commitment,â Dobbs said.
Of course, a realistic view of the world would include evidence that cuts against Dobbsâ point of view.
âIf the critics of tradeâ like Dobbs âare correct in their assumptions, a rise in the growth of manufacturing imports should lead quite directly to a decline in the growth of manufacturing output,â wrote Dan Griswold, the director of Catoâs Center for Trade Policy Studies.
âBy the same reasoning, a decline in imports should stimulate domestic output,â Griswold added. âBut an analysis of manufacturing imports and output since 1989 plainly refutes this pillar of protectionist thinking.â
The bottom line is that âraising trade barriers to supposedly protect U.S. manufacturing would be a mistakeâ that would âsave jobs in certain industriesâ in the short term but âat the expense of output in other, generally more competitive industries,â concluded Griswold.
In February 2001, as the U.S. economy was cooling from its rapid growth in the 1990s, Griswold argued that the trade deficit was not a weakness but âa symbol of economic strength.â At the time, the U.S. trade deficit was setting records.
Five years and an economic recovery later, CNNâs Lou Dobbs, like the U.S. trade deficit, is still just another broken record.