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 CNNâ€™s Lou Dobbs should present both sides of the debate, but heâ€™s too busy fighting a â€śwarâ€ť to be a neutral observer.
â€śFree 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€ť complained Dobbs on his December 6 program. The senior business reporter and author of â€śThe War on the Middle Classâ€ť was introducing the latest dispatch by Kitty Pilgrim.
Dobbs lamented that â€śthe Bush administration and corporate lobbyists, and now apparently members of both political partiesâ€ť were â€śembracing a trade dealâ€ť with South Korea â€śthat would be the largest since NAFTA.â€ť Following Pilgrimâ€™s report, the CNN anchor complained about â€ś30 consecutive years of trade deficits,â€ť as though that number was a manifestly self-evident indicator that free trade is harming Americaâ€™s economy.
Itâ€™s hardly the model of balanced journalism. But Dobbs told National Public Radioâ€™s Bob Garfield in November he is â€śan advocacy journalist, and I make no pretense whatsoever of so-called objectivity.â€ť Dobbs insisted his aim was to portray America as it really is.
â€śThe 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€ť Dobbs said.
Of course, a realistic view of the world would include evidence that cuts against Dobbsâ€™ point of view.
â€śIf the critics of tradeâ€ť like Dobbs â€śare 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€ť wrote Dan Griswold, the director of Catoâ€™s Center for Trade Policy Studies.
â€śBy the same reasoning, a decline in imports should stimulate domestic output,â€ť Griswold added. â€śBut an analysis of manufacturing imports and output since 1989 plainly refutes this pillar of protectionist thinking.â€ť
The bottom line is that â€śraising trade barriers to supposedly protect U.S. manufacturing would be a mistakeâ€ť that would â€śsave jobs in certain industriesâ€ť in the short term but â€śat the expense of output in other, generally more competitive industries,â€ť 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 â€śa symbol of economic strength.â€ť At the time, the U.S. trade deficit was setting records.
Five years and an economic recovery later, CNNâ€™s Lou Dobbs, like the U.S. trade deficit, is still just another broken record.