Ronald Reagan on Free Trade
President of the U.S., 1981-1989; Republican Governor (CA)
I informed the administration, which opposed the bill, that my support for the legislation prevented me from performing my whip duties. My chief deputy whip and I both recused ourselves.
Still, the bill passed, only to be promptly vetoed by the president. I did lead the drive to override the president's veto in an exhaustive campaign, and we managed to get 276 votes--71 Republicans and 205 Democrats. But it takes 2/3 of the votes to override a president, and our tally of 276-149 fell eight votes short.
In 1985, the dollar, at 220 to the yen, was still too high to arrest the rising U.S. trade deficit. The Big Three were at death's door. Refusing to let any of them go under, Reagan intervened to save the industry by imposing import quotas on Japanese cars. Free traders denounced Reagan as a heretic. The death of Ford and Chrysler were of far less concern to them than fidelity to the free-trade gospel of David Ricardo and Adam Smith.
But Reagan's intervention succeeded. The U.S. auto industry was saved. By now, the boom of the 1980s was underway, propelled by the tax cuts of Reagan and the sound money policy of the Fed.
It was Reagan who first articulated a goal of free trade in the Western Hemisphere. America's first free trade agreement with Israel, implemented in 1985, was a Reagan achievement. A US-Canada agreement followed. In 1986, Reagan launched the Uruguay Round, a series of talks aimed at the reduction of trade barriers among more than 60 nations. NAFTA, providing substantial trade benefits to US firms seeking to conduct business in Mexico and Canada--our best customers--was another initiative of the Reagan-Bush years.
Reagan's faith in free trade principles was vindicated abroad by the crumbling of state-controlled, centrally directed communist economies.
|Other past presidents on Free Trade:||Ronald Reagan on other issues:|
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Past Vice Presidents:
Natural Law Party