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Caroline Kennedy Explains Why Democrats Should Be For Free Trade

June 12, 2015

My view on free trade has changed over the decades as I have read and thought about the issue.  As I have mentioned many times the writings of Thomas Friedman has played a large part to my current thinking.    There are many reasons why Democrats and Republicans should support fast-track authority for the Pacific Rim treaty.    Not all of the reasons are economic.

Today Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of president John Kennedy, wrote a piece about the need for trade policy, and why Democrats should embrace the idea.

Yet, there are some who are reluctant to change the status quo and embrace the future. This is nothing new. But there is a proud Democratic free-trade tradition that we should not forget. For my father, President John F. Kennedy, expanding trade was integral to America’s prosperity and security. As he told Congress on January 11, 1962, when asking for a precursor to the same authority President Obama is requesting today, “Our decision could well affect the unity of the West, the course of the Cold War, and the economic growth of our Nation for a generation to come.”

The debate raged again when NAFTA was brought forward 20 years ago. Critics argued that it would kill jobs, lower wages, and erode the middle class. In fact, NAFTA has helped create jobs—and higher-paying export-related jobs—but it has also added to pressures for change in the U.S. economy, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. The trade agreements the United States is negotiating today give us the opportunity to shape how globalization affects our economy and its impact on our trading partners.

Throughout more than 45 years in the U.S. Senate, there was no greater champion of American workers than my uncle, Senator Edward Kennedy. He shared the concern of those fearing the effects of globalization, and fought hard to mitigate them. Yet like my father, Uncle Teddy always looked to the future. After an impassioned speech on the Senate floor outlining his concerns about NAFTA, he supported his President and voted for the agreement.

“Standing against all these arguments against NAFTA, is a larger overriding truth—all of the problems that working families face because of the nation’s inability and unwillingness to deal with the dislocations they are suffering will be even worse if NAFTA is defeated,” he said. “Massachusetts, like America, has prospered over the years because of trade, and we can prosper in the years ahead because of trade. Our challenge is to see that trade is fair as well as free.”

2 Comments
  1. June 12, 2015 6:18 PM

    There will need to be a way found too pass fast-track next week. It passed a symbolic vote with 219 votes late today.

  2. Solly permalink
    June 12, 2015 1:46 PM

    Yes, one of the bright lights of American politics. You’ve made fun of others who couldn’t explain why they wanted to run for office. How about replaying Caroline’s “esplanation” of why she wanted the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary….um, it seems like it should go to a member of a dynasty…… When Caroline “wanted to serve” she stayed overnight at the White House, and Barry opened a drawer and said “What do we got open? Oh yeah, Ambassador to Japan, that’s a great hack job. Speak Japanese? No? No matter. You are now an expert on trade.” In a few years she can explain to the great unwashed how a secret deal that abrogated their consumer protections and “exported” their jobs was really for their own good. And to pay for the “assistance” in training them to flip burgers, they wanted to cut Granny’s Medicare. Glad that went down 302-126. I guess they didn’t trust “Ly’in Paul Ryan’s” pledge to fix it, well not fix it, to consider fixing it later.

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