Say it with me: "protectionism is stupid."
Obama’s protectionism echoes Herbert Hoover’s protectionism, which helped spawn the Great Depression. President Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley tariff, which helped turn a recession into the Great Depression by triggering a trade war with other countries.
Unemployment is now even higher than what Obama predicted it would be without the stimulus. The White House now admits that there will be no job growth until 2010. The Congressional Budget Office repeatedly predicted that the stimulus would shrink the economy “in the long run“), but increase it in the short run, i.e., by the next election.
But so little of the stimulus money has gone into sectors of the economy where unemployment is high (like construction and transportation) that it seems to be doing nothing for the economy even in the short run. The $100 billion it pours into education -- a sector where unemployment is very low, and where the U.S. also spends more per capita than almost every other country -- appears likely to be wasted. Only 5.9 percent of the stimulus will go to transportation, a small amount compared to the amount of money it showers on state governments, which are using it to continue to provide lucrative pension and health benefits for state employees, whose wages continue to rise much faster than private sector workers.
Free trade helps everyone, *especially* the country practicing it. Even if nobody else reciprocates, the country that practices free trade comes out ahead.