Many Americans struggling through the current recession would be happy to endorse the "Buy America" provision in the recently passed stimulus bill. Clothing made in China, cars produced in Japan and store shelves stocked with imports provoke disgruntled complaints about lower-paid foreign workers. But our protective instincts are largely misguided. This country is too closely tied to the global economy to dig itself out of the current trouble without helping our trading partners recover too.
Still, only 35 percent of the public thinks trade agreements have been good for the country, a recent survey shows. And 48 percent believe agreements are bad, the highest share in several years. For politicians, playing to such sentiment can be appealing. President Barack Obama recently expressed doubts about proposed trade pacts with Columbia, South Korea and Panama that would clearly be advantageous to the United States