In the Arena

Bush Moonwalking?

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Two “compromises” from Bush today. On the benchmarks deal, here’s what to look for: how airtight is the final legislation? Does it give Bush the power to “waive” the benchmarks if he determines that a “crisis” exists? My guess is that it probably will.

On trade, it’s pretty interesting that Bush has made this move. And it will be nice if it works, though it probably won’t. A better path is outlined by economist James Galbraith on the American Prospect website: forget about protectionism, devote all your energies to strengthening the social safety net. I wrote a column suggesting something similar last year. Those who continue to raise the hope that manufacturing jobs can be saved through the threat or imposition of tariffs are playing a cruel demagogic hoax on working Americans. Globalization is real. There’s no turning back. The best hope is to do all we can to help those workers who’ve been hurt and their communities with programs like universal health insurance, continuing education and, perhaps, wage insurance–and to encourage the growth of new industries (alternative energy and autos is a great hope).