Democrats purse lips on Panama trade deal

June 4th, 2009


Embracing populism and criticizing free trade on the campaign trail were the easy part. But now that Barack Obama is negotiating actual trade pacts, he’s learning why this issue has become a third rail for Democratic leaders.

Trade cleaves Democrats like few other issues, and the administration’s confusing actions on a relatively minor trade deal with Panama, a country not quite the size of South Carolina, has inflamed the family feud. Earlier this spring, the administration looked as if it were going to hash out a Panama free-trade deal. Then the White House quickly changed course and slammed on the brakes just before Memorial Day.

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