So, youâ€™d expect that these fine legislators to have a solid track record against protectionism, right? Nope.
Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) fiercely protects against cheap imports from foreign countries when they negatively affects constituencies in her backyard. She supported the US Governmentâ€™s findings that softwood lumber imports from Canada were subsidized and unfairly priced. â€œThe implementation of the softwood lumber agreement this morning brings a successful resolution to a long and often difficult dispute,â€ Senator Snowe said. â€œThis agreement levels the playing field for the softwood lumber industry and brings an end to the unfair subsidizing of the Canadian lumber industry that had threatened thousands of softwood lumber industry jobs in Maine.â€
What about unfairly negotiated foreign prices for on-patent pharmaceuticals. Nope.
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) is normally a staunch protectionist. Similar to Senator Snowe, Senator Dorgan staunchly defended the wheat farmers in North Dakota against subsidized imports of wheat from Canada. He went as far as to give Prairie Home Companion-worthy testimony about a family farmer at a recent Congressional hearing. He said, â€œThe question for the "government," it seems to me that is posed by Kevin Neece and others is will someone finally stand up for family producers, for family farmers in this country and insist and demand unfair trade and insist and demand that our trading partners, in this instance Canada, comply with fair trade rules and comply with the agreements that were reached.â€
What about unfairly negotiated foreign prices for on-patent pharmaceuticals that unfairly place the financial burden of R&D on the American health care consumer? Nada.
And the leader of the pack, Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), supported the Byrd Amendment. When the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 was passed, he co-wrote a dissenting opinion that stated: â€œEnsuring fair trade enables U.S. manufacturers and their workers to make continued investments to preserve their global competitiveness.â€
What about unfair European trade practices that threaten pharmaceutical companies with patent expropriation if they donâ€™t accept absurdly low â€œreference pricesâ€ for new and innovative products? Zilch.
But who needs consistency when youâ€™ve got sound bites?