Obama hasn’t met his goal of doubling exports:
But this Congress could make progress:
There wasn’t a lot of overlap between the proposals in President Obama’s State of the Union address and those in Iowa Senator Joni Ernst’s Republican response. But here’s one thing they both advocated: trade deals. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the big deals the administration is negotiating, has suddenly become one of the hottest topics in Washington, as it appears to be one of the few topics on which President Barack Obama and Republicans might be able to reach any sort of agreement in this session of Congress.
Edward Alden considers the benefits and drawbacks of more trade:
Trade does have a chance of passing, and should. The stakes are high. The United States needs to be deeply engaged in Asia in particular to help build an economic future for the region that is not dominated solely by China, and to make sure the United States has the most open access possible to the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world. President Obama, after many years of hedging on trade, has now clearly made that commitment. The White House has set up a whip operation to build support on the Hill, and the president has signaled that he is willing to work closely with Republicans to muster the votes he needs.
But there will be minimal support from Democrats. Most of the Democratic opponents are not protectionists wanting to run way from competition. Instead, they see a game being played in which too many Americans have little chance of winning. While highly educated Americans have been enormously successful in the more open global economy, building some of the world’s most innovative and dynamic companies, far too many are simply unprepared for that competition.
He argues that, if “even some of the proposals that President Obama urged last night were enacted by Congress, it would be far easier to expand support for trade liberalization”:
An American workforce that was better prepared for the rigors of competition would be far more enthusiastic about taking on new competitors. But until the United States addresses more of its competitive challenges head on – and that means in part new initiatives from the government in Washington — support for trade will continue to be far weaker than it should be.