Monday, April 25, 2016

TALKING TRADE - Globalization and U.S. Voters

"Why trade and globalization concerns are resonating with voters at home" PBS NewsHour 4/21/2016


SUMMARY:  The issue of trade, and whether our deals are helping or hurting American workers, is resonating with many prospective voters this election season.  For a closer look at how U.S. trade policy is playing out in the presidential race, Hari Sreenivasan talks to Thea Lee of the AFL-CIO and Matthew Slaughter of Dartmouth University.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  As the candidates campaign in Pennsylvania, Indiana and elsewhere, one of the issues resonating strongly this year is trade, and whether it's helping or hurting the American economy and its workers.

It's been a long time since trade policy played out this way in a campaign.

This week, our colleagues at NPR have been looking more closely at these issues as part of an ongoing series of reports we are jointly doing about issues on the campaign trail.

For more on how trade is playing out in the race for the White House, I am joined by Thea Lee.  She's deputy chief of staff at the AFL-CIO and an international economist.  And Matthew Slaughter, dean of the Tuck School at Dartmouth College.  From 2005 to 2007, he served on the Council of Economic Advisers to President George W. Bush.

Thea Lee, so, why is this resonating so much right now?

THEA LEE, Deputy Chief of Staff, AFL-CIO:  You know, I think we have hit a breaking point.

American workers have really not benefited from a lot of changes in the economy over the last couple of decades.  We have seen that real wages are essentially flat for more than four decades.  And so we have had a period of tremendous economic growth and technological innovation and globalization, and yet American workers are working harder than ever.

They're more educated than ever.  More people in each family are working, and they're not really making ends meet.  And trade has been a key contributing factor.  It's not the only factor.  It may not even be the largest factor.  But it is a key policy choice that we have made.

And when we have a decision about a big trade agreement like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, this focuses the attention.  And I think we have seen candidates really take advantage of that attention on trade right now, and workers are responding and it's resonating.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Matthew Slaughter, any other reasons that this is catching on right now?

MATTHEW SLAUGHTER, Dartmouth College:  I think Thea is right that the American workers, a lot of them sitting around their kitchen tables thinking about voting, they have not performed as well as they had in the past.

They're concerned about their prospects.  They're concerned about their children.  And yet I think what's important to keep in mind is trade in particular, and globalization more generally, they have generated large gains for America overall over the many decades.

And with the right kind of policies going forward, more global engagement can help more American families in the future as well.

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