What would a progressive trade agenda look like?

Dani Rodrik tells us.  My whirlwind summary is pro-trade, pro-safety net, multilateral not bilateral, better procedures, pro-immigration, progressive toward poor countries, letting poor countries determine their own economic policies, and giving democracies more trade rights than non-democracies. 

I might well accept that if it were truly a package deal and truly the deal we would get.  But I don’t think multilateral institutions — a thin reed as they are — can stand that much stress or take on that much responsibility.  I also shudder to think who gets to define what a democracy is and what deals are cut to grant the higher status and how the excluded non-democracies take such a scolding.  Boosting safety nets and boosting immigration are not in every way congruent.  Most of all I wonder which of these goals are priorities.  I’ll put all of the procedural issues on the low side, as people aren’t happy with procedures no matter how good they are.  I want to start with more trade and immigration — unilaterally or bilaterally if need be — and see how much social spending we can afford without moving to European-level rates of taxation.  Most of the progressives I suspect want to start with more social spending and see how much open trade the public will then accept.  Viewed in these terms, we’re probably going to end up in very different places.


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