Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Obama Does No Harm

. Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On the day I voted for Obama, I expressed concern at his campaign rhetoric on trade, and openly hoped he was lying to score political points. Today, I am happy to report my wish has seemingly been granted: President Obama has taken back his word, and I couldn't be happier:

The administration has no present plans to reopen negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement to add labor and environmental protections, as President Obama vowed to do during his campaign, the top trade official said on Monday.

“The president has said we will look at all of our options, but I think they can be addressed without having to reopen the agreement,” said the official, Ronald Kirk, the United States trade representative. It was perhaps the clearest indication yet of the administration’s thinking on whether to reopen the core agreement to add labor and environmental rules.


There is even some indication that Obama will be willing complete the free trade agreements with Columbia and Panama, which were started by the Bush administration.

How much positive effect will these actions have? Likely very little. But the concern was always primarily negative: politicians can often do much harm even when they intend to do good. Dodging such bullets is cause for celebration.

To my knowledge, it is not common for elected officials to take the Hippocratic Oath, but perhaps it should be.

(ht: Mankiw)

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