Tying the urgent present-day topic of economic reporting in with the most pressing global emergency of climate change, Dean Baker has posted at his Beat the Press blog (6/29/09) on “What Does ‘Free Trade’ Have to Do With Taxing Greenhouse Gas Emissions?”:
That is the question that the New York Times should have been asking in an article that reported President Obama’s opposition to taxing imported items from countries that have not taken steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The point of his cap-and-trade program is to make items that require large amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions more expensive, thereby discouraging their consumption.
If goods can just be imported from countries that have no tax on GHG, then the point of cap-and-trade is undermined, as goods that require large amounts of fossil fuels will just be produced abroad. It is understandable that importers and other special interest would be opposed to measures that prohibit this sort of evasion, but that has absolutely nothing to do with “free trade.”
Baker notes that “the NYT completely misrepresents the issue by implying that this is somehow a debate over principles of free trade,” when really “it is a debate of whether special interests will be allowed to import goods to undermine the limits set by a cap-and-trade bill for GHG emissions.” For more on press distortions of Obama’s cap-and-trade policies, listen to the FAIR radio show CounterSpin: “Mike Lillis on Climate Bill” (5/22/09).