Lawrence Summers, President-elect Obama's chief economic advisor, has been relatively quiet on vitally important "free trade"- issues in light of the attention given to the government bailout and rescue plans. However, there is plenty of information which proves Summers to be an avid proponent of most of the policies which have destroyed our industrial economy.
Summers' submission to Financial Times last spring shows that the man our new president will look to for economic policy is perhaps a bit out of touch with everyday reality. Before the full scope of the economic crisis was known, some sentiment toward "protectionism"- had already begun to rise. Summers, a tried and true "free trader"- and holdover from Clinton-era deregulation, is against all things "protectionism."- It can be reasonably assumed that Summers will promote "free trade"- within the new administration, flying in the face of what many Americans had hoped to achieve in electing a Democrat as president.
Most Americans believed then Senator Obama on the campaign trail when he took a tough stance against NAFTA, the WTO and our listless course toward unregulated international and domestic markets. We have seen in the past several weeks that as president, Barack Obama may have no intention of fulfilling his campaign promises of the past two years. His selection of "free trade"- advocates for U.S. Trade Representative and Commerce Secretary have been well covered. Americans could make their presence known by petitioning their Congressional representatives to block the confirmation of any appointees who don't fit the bill in our tumbling economy.
The core of his economic team is also cause for worry. Unfortunately, the ethereal National Economic Council is merely a government "think tank"- and is thus not responsible to the will of the people. As the head of the NEC, Lawrence Summers will have the President's ear on all economic issues. At the same time, he will not be responsible to constituents in the same way that a cabinet official would. Not only do his views on "free trade"- not match with those supported by the majority of the American people, but his position in the administration is one that cannot be challenged.
President-elect Obama has made many puzzling choices for key economic advisory positions in the past weeks and months. Lawrence Summers' position atop the economic policy hierarchy is but one of several which should be viewed with consternation by a public that has been left behind by the past four presidents. Americans elected Obama to change Washington and alter the disaster course this country is traveling. With his selection of status quo "free trade"- advocates across the board, the President-elect seems to have already lost that calling.