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The (Very) Strange Economics of Tuesday Night’s Debate

It isn’t much fun being both a non-economist and a Democratic presidential candidate. There is tremendous pressure to give nonsense answers to issues of economic policy. Over at U.S. News and World Report, writer James Pethokoukis does a commendable job of deconstructing some of the answers given during Tuesday night’s debate. Here’s an example:

“Well, look, people don’t want a cheaper T-shirt if they’re losing a job [from free trade] in the process.” — Sen. Barack Obama. Inexpensive T-shirts vs. outsourced jobs isn’t really the debate. According to research from the International Institute for Economics, Americans are $7,000 to $13,000 richer because of trade, and removing all trade barriers would permanently increase our wealth by $4,000 to $13,000 per household. And since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect in 1994, America has added nearly 30 million net new jobs.