Free Trade Fact of the Day

Conn Carroll /

No fan of President Bush or conservatives, Democratic Leadership Council founder Al From defends free trade from his newly solidly protectionist party in the Wall Street Journal today:

History proves that expanding trade and productivity help create growth. We learned that the hard way when the Smoot-Hawley tariff helped crush trade and exacerbate the Great Depression. Conversely, we have seen trade drive the economy during the great expansions of the 1960s and 1990s.

Today, with the economy in or near recession, the market-opening agreements of the 1990s are proving their value. Even while domestic finance, real-estate and consumer sectors have begun to contract, manufacturing exports have jumped by $200 billion since 2005. Meanwhile, service-sector and agricultural trade surpluses have soared, so that, along with government spending, exports to places like Europe, Brazil and China are proving to be the only spark keeping us out of a full-fledged slowdown.