The Economist has a timely and spot-on article on Obama’s “string of ominously protectionist policies” highlighted recently by his decision to impose a 35 percent tariff on imported Chinese tires. The magazine writes:
This newspaper endorsed Mr Obama at last year’s election (see article) in part because he had surrounded himself with enough intelligent centrists. We also said that the eventual success of his presidency would be based on two things: resuscitating the world economy; and bringing the new emerging powers into the Western order. He has now hurt both objectives.
…The tyre decision needs to be set into the context of a string of ominously protectionist policies which started within weeks of the inauguration with a nasty set of “Buy America” provisions for public-works contracts. The president watered these down a bit, but was not brave enough to veto. Next, the president stayed silent as Congress shut down a project that was meant to lead to the opening of the border to Mexican trucks, something promised in the NAFTA agreement of 1994. Besides these sins of commission sit the sins of omission: the president has done nothing at all to advance the three free-trade packages that are pending in Congress, with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, three solid American allies who deserve much better. And much more serious than that, because it affects the whole world, is his failure to put anything worthwhile on the table to help revive the moribund Doha round of trade talks. Mr Bush’s tariffs, like the Reagan-era export restraints on Japanese cars and semiconductors, came from a president who was fundamentally committed to free trade. Mr Obama’s, it seems, do not.
Click here to read the full article.