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In Canada, Obama Warns Against Protectionism

President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper walk down the Hall of Honor towards a joint news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada. (Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)

By Michael D. Shear
OTTAWA -- Meeting with Canada's prime minister on his first official trip abroad, President Obama warned against a "strong impulse" toward protectionism while the world suffers a global economic recession and said efforts to renegotiate NAFTA will have to wait.

In a joint press conference after meeting for almost two hours at Parliament Hill here, Obama said he wants to find a way to keep his campaign pledge to add labor and environmental standards to the continent's trade agreements without disrupting trade.

"Now is a time where we've got to be very careful about any signals of protectionism," the president said. "Because, as the economy of the world contracts, I think there's going to be a strong impulse on the part of constituencies in all countries to see if we -- they can
engage in beggar-thy-neighbor policies."

Obama said during the campaign that he would consider opting out of NAFTA if he proved unable to renegotiate it. On Thursday, the president said that he raised the issue with Harper but indicated that he hoped advisers and staff from both countries could work out the issue.

The trade discussion came as Canadians have expressed concern in recent days over the "Buy American" provision that was added by Congress to the $787 billion stimulus package that Obama signed into law this week.

Harper told reporters that he has "every expectation" that the U.S. will abide by trade rules which forbid most such preferences. But he used strong language to indicate how seriously the country takes that issue.

"If we pursue stimulus packages, the goal of which is only to benefit ourselves, or to benefit ourselves -- worse -- at the expense of others, we will deepen the world recession, not solve it," Harper said.

Obama and Harper also pledged to work together in the fight against terrorism, especially in Afghanistan, where Canadian soldiers have been fighting and dying for years.

In his first public comments since ordering an additional 17,000 troops to the war-torn country earlier this week, Obama said that "it was necessary to stabilize the situation there in advance of the elections that are coming up."

The president declined to say how long the troops will remain there, saying that such a statement would pre-empt the 60-day review of policy in the region that he has ordered. Harper likewise declined to say whether his country's troops will remain beyond the 2011 authorization that exists already, though he described a constrained long-term goal for the effort there.

"We are not in the long term, through our own efforts, going to establish peace and security in Afghanistan. That, that job, ultimately, can be done only by the Afghans, themselves," Harper said.

The president's comments about trade revived a controversy from his campaign, when he was forced to respond to a Canadian assessment that his criticisms of NAFTA were nothing more than campaign rhetoric.

At the time, a top adviser to then-candidate Barack Obama left Canadian officials with the clear impression that his boss would not rush to renegotiate long-standing trade agreements if elected president.

"Much of the rhetoric that may be perceived to be protectionist is more reflective of political maneuvering than policy," the Canadians concluded in a memo after meeting with Austan Goolsbee, a senior campaign aide and now a member of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers.

Obama was chasing support among Rust Belt union workers and insisted that he would press to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement to include tougher labor and environmental standards. He even suggested that the U.S. might opt out of NAFTA if the standards couldn't be improved to America's satisfaction.

Some long-time observers of the U.S.-Canada relationship said Obama's position appears to validate the impression that Canadian officials got from the meeting with Goolsbee.

"It sounds like [Goolsbee] was right," said former Massachusetts governor Paul Cellucci, who served as Ambassador to Canada during George W. Bush's first term. "It looks like [Obama's] softened that quite a bit, to put it mildly."

That could anger some of Obama's staunchest supporters in the labor movement, who blame NAFTA for sending American jobs oversees by not requiring a level playing field in the areas of labor and the environment.

A top Obama aide said Tuesday that the president's main message to Harper would be to reassure him that the U.S. intends to maintain a robust trading relationship with its neighbor.

Asked several times whether Obama plans to press Harper to reopen NAFTA negotiations at today's meeting, deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough repeatedly stressed the need for continued trade.

"This is no time to -- for anybody to give the impression that somehow we are interested in less rather than more trade," McDonough said. "And that's what -- that's the message that he'll underscore."

The president's trip to Canada was the traditional visit early in his term. He disappointed many Canadians who had looked forward to seeing him at a public event. Instead, he only waved briefly to a crowd of about 2,000 hearty people waiting in the snow as he walked into his meetings.

He did surprise reporters with a brief stop at a converted, indoor farmers market in an historic stretch of Ottawa after his meetings. He bought a key chain that he purchased with Canadian currency, telling reporters that he was continuing a tradition of buying knick-knacks whenever he was away.

"I was looking for a key chain and a snow globe for my daughters," he said.

He also purchased a Beaver Tail, a Canadian pastry, for his kids. The baker at the market refused to take his money, saying, "It's for your daughters. It's not for you."

Obama and Harper also pledged cooperation to revive the continent's closely linked economy and signed an agreement to work toward joint development of clean energy technology.

Obama and Harper said the new "dialogue" on science and technology will help speed the path toward cleaner fuels from coal and oil.

"It will advance carbon reduction technologies. And it will support the development of an electric grid that can help deliver the clean and renewable energy of the future to homes and businesses, both in Canada and the United States," Obama said.

"And through this example and through continued international negotiations, the United States and Canada are committed to confronting the threat posed by climate changed," he added.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 19, 2009; 5:05 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Barack Obama  
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Mr. President: We need Constitutional Protectionism, Here at Home...




An IMMEDIATE series of executive orders banning the Bush-Cheney extrajudicial punishment vigilante network"...

...and its coordinated array of "programs of personal destruction"...

...could dismantle this American Gestapo -- and stop the persecution of untold thousands of unconstitutionally "targeted" U.S. citizens and their families...

...a methodical social genocide that surely has contributed to the mortgage meltdown that spawned the global financial crisis.

The "Truth Commission" can wait.

First, President Obama and Atty. Gen. Holder, end the crimes against humanity and the unconstitutional abuses of power.



OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):

Posted by: scrivener50 | February 20, 2009 1:51 AM | Report abuse


I get your meaning.

But I didn't read it that way.
Harper was reserved as is proper in British/French/Canadian leadership.

He is a Conservative but that doesn't mean the same as Conservative in the States.
Harper was criticized at home for his relationship with President Bush but that is largely because Bush was deeply unpopular there.

I actually think Harper was pretty warm toward Obama (in a Canadian sort of way)

The challenge to all Canadian leaders is to have a cordial and productive relationship with the States without surrendering Canadian priorities or identity.

The fact is that Obama's recognition of Canada as an important partner in the region actually strengthened Harper - who is the leader of a minority Govt.

If anything, Harper had to underplay his role so as not to enrage his own Liberal, New Democrat and Bloc Quebecois opposition parties. I thought he was the perfect host.

For his part, President Obama made clear his identification with Canada's social values and Conservaive economic policy.
I think he acknowledged Canada's leadership in North American priorities
quite well and he won the Canadian press.

The fact that Obama is more popular in Canada than Harper can only help United States.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | February 20, 2009 12:59 AM | Report abuse

To all Canadians your lucky that your former Prime minister Jean Chretien seen fit to put in a sunset claus for your Armed Forces to leave Afghanistan in 2011. Unlike In American our Troops are in perpetual rotation waiting to die another day. Last month more American Soliders died from sucide then combat deaths in both Iraq & Afghanistan! WTF? F.U.B.A.R ....Obama has no intension of ever leaving Iraq and in my opinuin he has become a war criminal in less than a month.

Posted by: hankomatic1 | February 19, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Harper seemed generally unenthusiastic about the visit, Obama himself and everything else about their joint appearance. Is this NAFTA? Conservative gloom? Did Obama tick him off? What?

Posted by: parkerfl1 | February 19, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Beprudent your drooling.

Posted by: hankomatic1 | February 19, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

As a Canadian and a big Obama fan, I am pleased that our Prime Minister Harper and Pres. Obama met, discussed and had lunch together with their advisers.

Here is a link to the Ottawa Citizen newspaper to show you how Canadians viewed his visit

After he left Parliament Hill and his media conference with Prime Minister Harper, Pres. Obama stopped at a downtown independent market mall for some baked goods and souvenirs for his daughters. That thoughtfulness just left the best opinion of Pres. Obama.

If you look at the three galleries all the signs are welcoming.

America, you made the better decision by selcting Barack Obama nd Joe Biden!!

Posted by: Beprudent | February 19, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if he met Belinda Stronach? Slick Willy did her.

Posted by: hankomatic1 | February 19, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

When push comes to shove, Canada and America need eachother. Not only are they trade dependent on one another, but socially and culturally they are so related. Even though they disagree over some security issues, mutual respect and cooperation is essential for the safety, prosperity and well being of the North American continent. Canadians can be assured that Obama's campaign idea to renegoiate NAFTA was more about the American-Mexican relationship and not about changing the status quo of Canadian-American trade. No US politician would, in my opinion, be stupid enough to damage the relationship by unnecessarily restricting trade.
Laura- Ontario, CA.

Posted by: laurah2215 | February 19, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

PBO's leaving an awfully big carbon footprint being a member of the jet set.

Has he spent more nights away from the White House than in the White House?
Since it is hard to campaign from the White House, Obama is starting his campaign for the 2012 election using Air Force One to jet him to different cities. Air Force One will become the new White House.

Posted by: mafox1 | February 19, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Renegotiate NAFTA?
Canada is forced to keep the oil flowing south under the current rules and thus has to hold its nose and put up with the 'buy American' clause in the bailout package.

Canada is being shafted by NAFTA, not the USA!

Posted by: jlamont1 | February 19, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Mr. President for resisting the demands of the protectionist crowd who refuse to learn from history or just plain distort it. Take this baloney, for example.

"The "protectionism" they are blathering about was Smoot-Hawley, which wasn't pass until we had lost 45% of GDP."

Completely disingenuous. Smoot Hawley was passed in June of 1930 and GDP fell 12% from 1929 to 1930 and the GDP figure includes the decline in 1930 that took place after the passage of Smoot-Hawley. Things got much worse. Smoot-hawley turned a severe recession into the Great Depression.

Unemployment was 8.7% in 1930, but 1933 it had risen to 23%.

"An, after the passage of Smoot our GDP GREW at a rate of at least 3.3% annually."

More dishonesty, the economy bottomed out in 1933 and started to recover basically because it had no where to go but up. It didn't recover back to 1929 levels for until WWII and Smoot-Hawley was repealed by the end of WWII when we first saw real sustained non-wartime growth.

Protectionists have this rabid hysterical belief that the government can just dictate trade patterns and ensure prosperity but it just isn't true.

Posted by: RealChoices | February 19, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Protectionism would let the American worker take back his destiny. As is, Obama sells out the middle class yet again to aid the declining fortunes of his backers the Madoffs and the Stanfords.

Posted by: jabailo | February 19, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

More backtracking from campaign promises. O'bama is a learn and lead as you go leader.

Electing a junior Senator to lead the USA was such a mistake.

Markets tumble again. Socializing of American continues to build. The votes are coming in that this President O'bama has not only rapidly lost the confidence of the American people, but he clearly himself lacks leadership qualities to lead this great country.

Leading by consensus. Not the sign of a leader. Ad-lib leadership. Not the sign of a leader. Backtracking on every campaign promise to get elected. Just plain dishonest. Or stupid.

It's a circus.

Posted by: Accuracy | February 19, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

The people writing here AND OUR PRESIDENT know NOTHING about trade. Do you want to know what our chief exports are? Raw timber, coal, *oil*, corn, soybeans, minerals ... raw materials. Actual manufactured goods like electronics and heavy equipment account for 5.6% of all export income! And, as or "protectionism", every keeps blathering about how protectionism made he Great Depression worse. The "protectionism" they are blathering about was Smoot-Hawley, which wasn't pass until we had lost 45% of GDP. An, after the passage of Smoot our GDP GREW at a rate of at least 3.3% annually. After 1935, when the full effects of the various provisions of that act actually were enforced, our GDP grew by 27% in less than 5 years (from 71.3 to 106 billion dollars). The clodhoppers, posers, political zealots, and self important morons on sites like this need to go back to school. As for our idiot President, he PROMISED that he would re-negotiate NAFTA, would curtail the worst effects of free trade, end outsourcing, and either end or modify the H1-B and L-1 visas. Instead we witness him ponying up to the same old trough that Bush an his fools fed from. Can anyone seriously differentiate between the economic suicide practiced by Bush and that being proposed by Obama? Nope! There isn't one. And the American people are angry. I, for one, can't wait until this stimulus nonsense fails and either Obama and COngress gets serious about standing up for us or we have riots in the streets and force. What we need are REPRESENTATIVES, politician's with the common sense to wet their finger and stick it in the air and figure out what WE THE PEOPLE want and damn well do it!

Posted by: mibrooks27 | February 19, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Boy scouts do good deeds....girl scouts do good deeds and sell great cookies....our politicans resdistribute wealth stunting motivation of will be a long lousy four years.....long.

Posted by: markone | February 19, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

By the way, it's very unfamiliar (and unpleasant) to see our Canadian PM meeting with a US president and know that our guy, not yours, is the one dithering on climate change. I'm so used to the American president being the bad guy.

When I look at Harper in international meetings, I get a small inkling of how excruciating it must have been for sensible Americans to watch Bush embarrassing their country on the world stage.
But at least Harper has the political sense to keep his sillier beliefs to himself most of the time.

Posted by: bourassa1 | February 19, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Oh ye of little faith, knock it off. Quit pretending that YOU know everything the President knows. You have your own opinions based on What? Campaign speeches? Books? Newspaper reports?
A degree in history? Your own sense of entitlement because you "work hard" and "do all the right things" and so, you should be the one who determines the course of history? Get a grip. Calm down.
Quit pretending you are Sarah Palin who knows everything about everything and therefore is absolutely qualified to be President. Get over it.

Posted by: cms1 | February 19, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

There is no need for US protectionism as far as Canada is concerned, as the USA drove a hard bargain when free trade was originally negotiated
Posted by: John_D
I don't know about. The amount of money U.S. corporations have to pay for our health care is enough to have them running to Canada.

Posted by: HemiHead66 | February 19, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

HemiHead is right that it was really the Hillary campaign who signalled the Harper Govt that their NAFTA-bashing was just for the crowds. This all came out later in Canada (Harper ordered an investigation, saying the news reports had been "grossly unfair" to Obama), but US media didn't pick up on the sequel to the story, so most Americans never heard about it.

I suspect Obama did the same thing, but the actual "take us with a pinch of salt" leak that made it into the papers came from the Hillary camp.

That's why Harper said the coverage was unfair to Obama.

Posted by: bourassa1 | February 19, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

So much for the populist I campaigned for. What a blithering idiot. We need some way of removing politician's who promise one thing in their campaign and d something entirely different once in office. News flash, President Obama, polls show over 80% of he AmerIcan public SUPPORTING PROTECTIONIST LAWS! Your stimulus package isn't going to do much more than dump a bunch of money down a black hole, lobbyists, Wall Street bankers, and public employee unions all with their faces shoved into the swine trough. It's going to make the economy WORSE. Now, the models show this whole thing blowing in your face by early summer, with (literally) riots in the streets this next Fall and Winter. You have no one to blame for this, which just might mark the end of this country, but yourself. Moron!

Posted by: mibrooks27 | February 19, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Perhapse Canada will adopt us out of pitty. After the messiah drives all the businesses out with his socialist agenda.

Posted by: FairTaxEd | February 19, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Whoever wrote this article just loves starting trouble. It was Hillary Clinton that started running her mouth to the Canadian's about NAFTA, not Obama. She told the Canadian's to take her words with a grain of salt and a Canadian official flipped it and said Obama said it. That's how Hillary won the state of Ohio. It doesn't matter what position Obama takes on NAFTA anyway. NAFTA is finished. Did these greedy corporations really think they could send our jobs to another country and maintain the profits of the past. Nobody spends like Americans. Now that our jobs are gone and the house of credit cards has collapsed, NAFTA is finished. All these lost jobs won't be coming back because our whole economy was based on greed and credit. Americas wallet is empty, and the rest of the world will follow.

Posted by: HemiHead66 | February 19, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

PBO's leaving an awfully big carbon footprint being a member of the jet set.

Has he spent more nights away from the White House than in the White House?

Nero fiddles...

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | February 19, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA = One Big @ss Mistake , America

Who knew?

We knew and we can all look our selves in the mirror each morning knowing we resisted to the end.

Posted by: rtfanning | February 19, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

the president began his remarks with, "It's a great pleasure to be here in Iowa --- Ottawa."

Worse than Bush?

Posted by: pgr88 | February 19, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

People who say that "manufacturing died on the advent of computers" would fit into the group my old Texas-born mother would have described as "couldn't pour p*** out of a boot with directions on the heel".
At the end of Mao's reign, China had an abundance of smart people but no industry. With our own trade commissions acting as pimps, they were able to seduce our manufacturers into literally giving their factories to the Chinese. "Give us your equipment, teach our people how to operate it, and we will ship your product back to the US at a third of you cost".
India has worked very hard to take over our intellectual services. Have you talked to a real American customer service person recently?
It is almost impassible to get financing to build a new factory in the United States.

Posted by: oldboss | February 19, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

There is no need for US protectionism as far as Canada is concerned, as the USA drove a hard bargain when free trade was originally negotiated. But the most important factor is that Canada's currency - unlike China's - is on a free float. It goes up and down with market forces, with no manipulation by governments. Going into last summer, the Canadian dollar had risen 20% against the US dollar, to the point where it was on par. This led lots of Canadians (including our family) to make major shopping expeditions to the USA (in our case, upstate New York - we drove there in our Chrysler vehicle).

Unfortunately, the Canadian dollar is back down to 80 cents as a result of the economic troubles and the flight of investors to the US dollar. Yet the Canadian banking system is sound, with no need for a bailout, as our banks have been highly conservative in their lending policies. The Canadian dollar is sure to come back up again when the world economy improves (hopefully soon). Those who are smart enough to buy some Canadian dollars now will make a lot of money.

Americans should not forget that Canada is America's biggest customer. Yes, China sells more to the USA, but we buy more - especially from California (movies, music, software, and fruits and vegetables). The trading relationship with Canada is of great benefit to the USA. Also, our workers are paid equivalent wages (in some cases, much better - especially for teachers). The main place where people are paid more in the USA is at the top of the scale: doctors, lawyers, and especially, CEO's and bankers - no comparison there! Workers and middle class people here generally make as much or more as their counterparts in the USA.

Protectionism is a short-sighted "solution". What goes around comes around. Yes, the USA is the biggest single economy, but if everyone else starts putting up trade barriers in response to "buy American", the USA will sell a lot less to other countries generally.

Posted by: John_D | February 19, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

as instructed by obama the ACORNS weakened and dismantled, toppled fanniemae, freddiemac and a domino factor began.

if anyone is to be held responsible begin with Barney Frank, Christopher Dodd, Barack Obama who did nothing to inform the american public of the CONDITION of the banks.

blame the democrats who dismissed McCain's outline to harness these institutions by overseeing their practices. McCain's outline was shot down by democrats.

If the practices of these large institutions were kept in line with regard to their loose practices the economy would be in a far better state ... Bush happened to be the President in the Office at the time, but the governing of the economic situation was entirely in the hands of democrats who voted down every attempt to police the lending practices of the initial failed institutions, imo.

Posted by: ChooseBestCandidate | February 19, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Review Obama's record and you can see that he knows squat about the problems that face America. From NAFTA which he flipped and flopped on to our military, to our economy he knows only what his liberal advisors tell him. He is learning on the job while America goes down the tubes. His theories are socialist in nature. Hillary Clinton need not call Obama to ask what she should say to North Korea, or Indonesia, or South Korea, or Thailand or wherever she goes because she is prepared and knows the problems and he is the super-star flying on AF! ordering cheese burgers and making speeches about OUR CRISIS! only 25 times in his last catastrophe speech. AF2 with Joe the mouth Biden trails him and it costs the taxpayers about 120 thousand an hour just for the planes he uses.
The perfect storm of bad economic times and the hate for Bush, coupled with a drooling mesmerized media and a charasmatic con man got us into this jackpot and we must pray for our country now more than ever.

Posted by: mharwick | February 19, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

any time on obama's schudule to visit Mexico and find a solution to the hundreds of americans being killed as a result of a failed border?

any chance of putting thousands to work right on the border fence to make it a reality while creating jobs?

Posted by: ChooseBestCandidate | February 19, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

to msmithnv...stupid is as stupid does, you've said the same and done the same for 8 years. Please stop acting like you don't know what harm you have caused this country. All of your rudness, name and collage dropping, ignorance continually. Repeating yourself over and over doesn't make anything true! You may need more schoolin! lol

Posted by: general21 | February 19, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

manufacturing died a long time ago..
probably with YuppieDOM--
or dare I say it--COMPUTERS

mssmith: "Obama comes with a host of other silly theories....."

and they would be?????

virginia: "He couldn't drop the buy American part of the "stimulus" bill."

Nor did he want to. Did you happen to read page 259-260 of the Conference Report. The Trade Adjustment Assistance???
Now, it may evolve around iron and steel but hey, iron and steel built this country and is used in just about everything viable (by the entire global community).

My Grandpa Jim, who worked in the Acme Steel Factory in Riverdale, Illinois (many years ago) would have been proud!!!! And he was a staunch Republican !!!!!

We must start somewhere.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 19, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

PBO's burning up the jet miles. What a carbon footprint! What does Al Bore have to say about that?

Nero fiddles...

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | February 19, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Canada subsidizes its film and television industry by granting tax credits to American film companies. The Canadians started this over 10 years ago and neither the WTO or our government has acted. The Elizabeth Smart story set in Salt Lake City was filmed in Nova Scotia! The Rudy Guiliani Story in Toronto, the Ronald Reagan Story in Montreal and many Westerns including Dances with Wolves and the Unforgiven were filmed in Alberta.
Hundreds of thousands of jobs are lost each year to Canadian productions. Some trading partner they are.

Posted by: mharwick | February 19, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Obama's campaign against free enterprise will continue with his "revision" of NAFTA. He is an ideologue who grew up with a belief that big is bad thus business, America, our armed forces, our economy are all to be altered so there are not scary anymore. Obama comes with a host of other silly theories derived from his Hawaiian Uncle who got his theories from the label on a Dr. Brunner's Peppermint Soap bottle.

650 scientists just confirmed that the global warming of the preceding ten years was wiped out by the cooling of the last two years. The cause? Cycles of activity on the Sun thus the correlation between the temperature fluctuation patterns on Mars and Earth. Obama's crazies at EPA will launch a Jihad on all carbon based sources of energy BEFORE THEY HAVE A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE. The result a continuation of the current Obama stock market drop caused by the markets rejection of Obama's command economy school boy experiment with American enterprise and Obama's continual talking down of American business.

"Gee it worked in my Harvard debate class rehearsal!" Obama was heard to exclaim when he read today's stock index numbers.

Posted by: msmithnv | February 19, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

This illustrates how either totally and terminally naive Obama is or he has a more destructive plan in place.

He couldn't drop the buy American part of the "stimulus" bill.

Now he drives the stake into the heart of the American worker a little deeper.

Has it occurred to this jug eared freak just how much of our manufacturing has evaporated? That means jobs. Jobs which cannot be replaced by government jobs which do nothing for the economy.

We tried to tell you, America. Experience matters and this Chicago hustler has none. Chia pet Biden and CLinton had it right: the presidency of the most powerful nation on earth is not an on the job training position.

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | February 19, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

What a red herring! Nobody is advocating that the U.S. stop trading with Canada.

Under NAFTA, most Americans are concerned with job loss to Mexico. Under the WTO, our $256 billion trade deficit with China is even more worrisome.

While on the campaign trail, President Obama pledged to renegotiate NAFTA, CAFTA and other trade agreements to, yes, include real labor and environmental standards, but also to address the investor standards, procurement standards, agricultural standards and more. He should abide by those promises.

Addressing our failed trade policy is especially important if Democrats want to continue controlling Congress in 2010. Over 70 newly-elected Democrats ran, at least in part, on "fair trade" in 2006 and 2008. That isn't going to work in 2010 if the Obama administration continues on this "business as usual" path.

This is the exact same folly that Clinton got the country into in the 90s, leading to the Republican Revolution in 1996.

Posted by: orftc | February 19, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

"Free Trade," yea right! Perhaps with Canada, it's OK, they actually pay workers there a living wage. China, Indonesia and Mexico are the problem. That's why the USA trade deficit stands at $800 billion. Obama has done a back-flip on this issue, after Wall Street and the fast talkers got to him. I guess he better hope the USA economy improves now, how otherwise to pay for Afghanistan and the bailouts?

Posted by: sofla | February 19, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

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