Opposition to Free Trade Mounts

A Pew Research poll conducted after the 2010 elections found that a plurality (44 percent) of Americans now believe that NAFTA and the WTO have had a negative impact on America. This is a major change from last year, where 43 percent of people felt that such policies were good.

As the number of Democrats who are against free trade has grown, the number of Republicans against free trade rose from 36 percent in 2009, to 54 percent this year. Across every sector, from young to old, liberal to conservative, etc. support for free trade policy dropped significantly. The only demographic that still has a positive view of free trade is the 18 to 29 age range.

Does this mean anything for the upcoming Congress? Possibly. While traditional elected Republicans are still free traders for the most part, their Tea Party colleagues are far less likely to support such policy. And with a recent policy of being the ‘party of no,’ why not oppose free trade policies espoused by President Obama, especially when their supporters are against it?

Policies such as the Korean Free Trade Agreement, that President Obama hoped to pass by the end of the year, are now in jeopardy. The next Congress may even increase the hostility of rhetoric that has recently been leveled at China.

This is the lowest support for free trade in the 13 year history of the poll, with equivalent results in 2008.

Free trade agreements have led to a mass exodus of jobs and tax revenue. If Congress doesn’t work to address our trade deficits, soon we lose businesses and industries wholesale. Bills such as the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development, and Employment (TRADE) Act, would go a long way to reverse this process.

A re-evaluation of our existing trade agreements, as well as an end to ‘fast track’ legislation would allow our elected leaders to make proper, informed choices, and bring an end to unfair trade policies. As public support for free trade wanes, elected officials should take notice and vote on bills such as the TRADE Act.

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