This morning, I attended a breakfast briefing on the Hill hosted by Third-Way, the non-partisan progressive strategy group. The briefing marked the launch of their trade initiative, and included remarks by Reps. Joseph Crowley and Melissa Bean. The report, titled, Why Lou Dobbs is Winning, takes an interesting look at why trade advocates are losing the communications battle when it comes to clearly demonstrating the benefits of trade and open markets...
Some interesting stats pulled from the study:
- An April 2007 poll conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), found that 54% of Americans think that, in general, trade is good for the U.S. economy. And in 2003, 62% of Americans told pollsters from Pew that globalization in general is "good" or "somewhat good."
- However, other polls find that by a margin of 2 to 1, Americans think trade destroys more jobs than it creates, and 67% think trade is bad for job security for U.S. workers and bad for creating U.S. jobs.
- Similarly, only 12% of respondents in a December 2006 poll by the Pew Research Center said they believe trade creates U.S. jobs, and only 11% said trade leads to higher wages, while the remainder said trade either destroys jobs and lower wages or makes no difference.
I guess we have our work cut out for us...
I have to admit, it was a little surreal to be in a room full of Majority Members and staff discussing how to shift the message to shed free trade in a better light. Generally speaking, over the past decade, the Democratic Party has been quite critical of trade agreements. And I also have to admit that I laughed out loud when Rep. Crowley asked the audience of about 100 people, "Has anyone ever heard Lou Dobbs say anything positive about America?"
Ironically, the launch of Third-Way's trade initiative couldn't have come at a better time - the House today began consideration of the Peru Free Trade Agreement.