What Edwards Got Wrong

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

WHAT HE GOT WRONG:"America's trade policy has been a complete disaster. . . . We got something America did not need, which is NAFTA, which has cost us millions of jobs."

-- John Edwards, Democratic debate on CNN, Nov. 15

Several academic studies have been done on the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. Some economists have argued that the pact resulted in more U.S. jobs, while others have said that there are fewer. But no credible economist has said that NAFTA has cost the United States "millions of jobs." The Edwards campaign cited a study by a leading NAFTA skeptic, Robert Scott of the Economic Policy Institute. But Scott's research does not support the claim of millions of lost jobs. He calculates that NAFTA has "displaced"

1 million U.S. workers since it took effect in 1994.

One-third of these jobs have been "lost" for good, Scott said. Between 1994 and 2002, the Labor Department certified about 525,000 U.S. workers as eligible for the NAFTA-Transitional Adjustment Assistance program.

-- Michael Dobbs

For daily truth-squadding of the 2008 campaign, visit www.washingtonpost.com/factchecker. Read the Candidates Week series at www.washingtonpost.com/frontrunners.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company