There was a good response to my piece on China trade from yesterday. This is an issue where there is a lot of churning, and a lot of debate about whether the U.S. should respond to the China/Asia -trade imbalance in a passive or active way; and if active, whether multilaterally, bilaterally, or unilaterally; and if unilateral, whether this should be done with pressures on "our prices" (i.e. address U.S. dollar overvaluation) or "their prices" (i.e. try to address China yuan undervaluation).
Tom Palley makes the argument here that we should be pressuring China on "their prices" and that China should be playing by WTO rules. But I think Tom really hits the nail on the head when he says:
In retrospect the 2000 U.S. decision to permanently open its markets to China seems poorly conceived. That decision was driven by manic optimism about globalization that pushed a biased benefit—cost calculus that ignored economic and political reality. The Clinton Administration naively argued that simply exposing China to market forces would transform it into a democratic ally, while U.S. multinationals lobbied heavily on China’s behalf seeing it as a profitable offshore production location.
Indeed, the debate around China PNTR is one instance in the last decade where Democrats (and Republican evangelicals and others that had their own concerns about religious freedom in China) really lost their way. Looking at the vote count today, it's kind of astounding and depressing how many members crossed that line that never should have. And there's no shortage of members today making all sorts of tortured justifications for the vote.
Since I'm on the topic, why not explore how the 2008 presidential candidates voted on China PNTR? (By the way, this will be regular features on Eyes on Trade.) Oh, and what the heck, we'll also look at the party leaderships as well.
Dem candidates (W is for wrong, i.e. anti-fair trade; R is for right; N/A means they're off the hook on this vote)
Biden - W
Clinton - N/A
Dodd - W
Edwards - W (I've heard that he's since recanted, fire a comment if you know for sure)
Gravel - n/a
Kucinich - R
Obama - n/a
Richardson - n/a
Brownback - W
Gilmore - n/a
Giuliani - n/a
Huckabee - n/a
Hunter - R
McCain - W
Paul - R
Romney - n/a
Tancredo - R
Thompson - n/a
And party leadership??
Majority Leader Reid - R
Speaker Pelosi - R
Ways and Means Chair Rangel - W
Ways and Means Subcommittee Chair Levin - W
Senate Finance Chair Baucus - W
Minority Leader McConnell - W
Minority Leader Boehner - W
Ways and Means Ranking Member McCrery - W
Ways and Means Sbcmte Ranking Member Herger - W
Senate Finance Ranking Member Grassley - W