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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/18/15

David Brooks Declares War on 'Democratic Tea Party'--Unarmed With Facts

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The Washington chattering class is really upset that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) looks like it's going down. David Brooks pulled out all the stops, using his New York Times column (6/16/15) to yell at "Tea Party" Democrats for not supporting the fast-track authority that would facilitate passage of the TPP.

Unfortunately, Brooks was largely unarmed with facts when it came to the attack. To start, he tells readers;

The North American Free Trade Agreement, for example, probably didn't affect the American economy too much. But the Mexican economy has taken off. With more opportunities, Mexican workers feel less need to sneak into the US.

If the Mexican economy has taken off since NAFTA, they managed to conceal this fact from the IMF and other keepers of official statistics. Here is the path of per capita GDP in the United States and Mexico post-NAFTA:

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Source: International Monetary Fund.

Developing countries like Mexico are supposed to have more rapid growth than rich countries like the United States. Instead, the gap has increased by about 5 percentage points, as growth in the US has exceeded growth in Mexico since NAFTA took effect. (The chart shows growth in international dollars, not adjusted for inflation.)

Brooks also seems to be inventive in his assessment of patterns of immigration. According to the Migration Policy Institute, the number of Mexican immigrants to the United States rose from 4.3 million in 1990 to 11.7 million by 2010.

Okay, so maybe Brooks didn't get NAFTA quite right; let's see what else he has.

In Asia, the American-led open trade era has created the greatest reduction in poverty in human history. The Pacific trade deal would lift the living standards of the poorest Asians, especially the 90 million people of Vietnam.

Hmmm. Can we really call China and India's development policies "American-led"? I suspect the people of these huge countries would take some offense at that characterization. Furthermore, neither has come close to following the "Washington Consensus" development path. As far as Vietnam, its per capita income has grown at a 4.8 percent annual rate over the last decade. It doesn't look like it is waiting for Congress to approve the TPP to save them.

Then we have David Brooks quoting Tyler Cowan:

Do you get that, progressives? Poorest country = biggest gainer. Isn't that what we are looking for?

Well, the data may not agree with Mr. Cowan here, at least if we take post-NAFTA Mexico as our model.

According to a survey by the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, 83 percent of the nation's leading economists believe that trade deals have been good for most Americans. That's not quite the level of consensus on man-made global warming, but it is close.

Let's see--that would be 83 percent of people who did not see the $8 trillion housing bubble that crashed the economy. I hope that the track record of the scientists who write on global warming is a bit better.

Then we have the specific projection of the gains from TPP:

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Dr. Dean Baker is a macroeconomist and Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He previously worked as a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor at Bucknell University. (more...)
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