This fall the left ran millions of dollars worth of ads demonizing free trade and “foreign money.” Now President Barack Obama is in Asia negotiating the U.S. free trade agreement (KORUS) with South Korea.
The case for KORUS should be a slam dunk. The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that U.S. exports would increase $10–11 billion annually, if the agreement passed. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that approving the KORUS would lead to an increase of 250,000 jobs, while a failure to enact the agreement would lead to a loss of $35 billion in exports and a loss of 345,000 jobs.
Unfortunately the left’s protectionist rhetoric has taken its toll on Congress. From Seoul, South Korea, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) told a conference call today:
We’ve had a very shrill political campaign, particularly ads that were running in Ohio and some of these others, by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the DNC and others that were very very harsh. President Obama needs to lead here. And I think he needs to reach out to members of his party in Congress and help on this lift.
Just five years ago the United States was South Korea’s largest trading partner. But since June 2007 when KORUS was first signed, South Korea has moved forward with other trade negotiations. Now the U.S. is South Korea’s fourth largest trading partner behind the European Union, China, and Japan.
It is time for the Obama Administration to stop talking about free trade and begin implementing a trade policy. It’s time for President Obama to lead on trade.