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American Prospect editor Harold Meyerson surprises me - and presidential candidate Mitt Romney doesn't

September 20, 2011 - Mike Maneval
Harold Meyerson, writing for the American Prospect earlier this month, had surprising, interesting things to say about two of former Massachusetts governor and presidential aspirant Mitt Romney's 59 economic policy proposals.

What both is surprising and interesting about Meyerson's commentary is Meyerson's strong record as an economic progressive - as believing the government has an obligation to intervene in markets to preserve the rights and value of labor and to protect consumer rights - and his relative praise for the two proposals he cited.

Romney says he will label China, by executive order, as a currency manipulator and assess tariffs on Chinese imports if China doesn’t float its currency, and, in Meyerson's words, "Romney proposes to establish a 'Reagan economic zone' that would offer fewer trade restrictions to nations that offer greater protections for intellectual property."

On the second proposal, Meyerson goes further, which is understandable. Meyerson recommends labor-rights criteria be added to the qualifications for the "Reagan economic zones."

But what else is surprising is that this is all the further Meyerson goes. In discussing trade policy specifically with China - which, since the gift of permanent normal trade relations with the U.S. has, among other measures, brutally beat a crowd of grieving parents for asking why the schools in which their children died collapsed - and more generally, Romney seems to consider intellectual property rights of greater concern than basic liberties such as the right to live and the freedom of expression. Romney's skepticism of China is prompted not by the despots' brutal suppression of the religious rights of the Falun Gong or of persecuted Christians, but by currency manipulation.

It doesn't appear Meyerson is neglecting some provision or plank which addresses China's cruel, authoritarian rule; Unless a Wall Street Journal Sept. 17 editorial about Romney's positioning on the issue, or a guest blog entry for the Christian Science Monitor two days later suffers from the same amnesia. While Meyerson has some barbs for Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner - who he perceives as instrumental in bottling up better trade proposals within the White House - he, in this piece of commentary, had little to say about Romney's failure to tie trade policy to the respect for basic civil and human liberties so integral to America's fabric. And that surprises me. More so, in many ways, than Romney's exclusion of concerns for liberty and self-governance from his proposed trade policy.


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