What's behind President Bush's renewed campaign to promote free trade? Bush's pitch, which he made again Saturday in a national radio address and which he will continue to publicize in various appearances this week, is designed to rejuvenate support for free trade at a time when protectionism seems to be surging, White House advisers say.
Bush is concerned that the familiar arguments in favor of free trade have lost their power as manufacturing and other jobs move overseas and as Americans' economic anxiety remains relatively high. The president believes that "all the arguments from the 1990s that dominated the debate need to be made again," says a Bush strategist. "We need to make our case from the beginning, start all over again."
Bush's argument is that even though there are some economic dislocations and disparities, free trade on balance is good for the economy because it reduces prices, increases the availability of goods for consumers, and encourages U.S. businesses to become more competitive.
—Kenneth T. Walsh