Dual mandate of national trade policy

Purpose of trade policy in the summary Congressional Rsearch Service paper March 24 2010 caught my attention.

U.S. trade policy is at a cross-roads as the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress face a range of policy issues and challenges. The future direction of trade policy and how the issues will be addressed are unclear at this time and the subject of sharp debate within Congress, the Administration, and the trade policy community at large. While a number of issues are related to trade policy, the fundamental question that is the subject of this debate is which trade policy, if any, will maximize the benefits of trade and boost U.S. living standards.

(bolding mine)

In a simple statement of what has and can happen, the disconnect implied in the quote is striking. The benefits of trade are obvious to many, but the winners and losers in such trade is not at all obvious to many in the big picture.

If the ‘economy’ was the driver for this election, meaning I assume the perceptions each voter carried with him or her to the voting booth, then understanding our economy is better for us all.

One thing voters need to keep in mind is that trade is global in scope, and what is good for a trans-national monopoly is not the same as good for the voters. Maximixing benefits of trade may have little to do with maximizing US standards of living for most.

The idea of smaller government may be popular right now, but if you expect anyone else to protect overall voter interests, I see no other institution willing to do so other than the federal government if you can steer policy that way. Any other institution I am forgetting about??

In a second post to come involving Michael Pettis, Spencer England, and Paul Krugman, how this plays out is explored.

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