Brought to IPR’s attention by our own Trent Hill, Cato’s @ Liberty blog posted a story detailing Bob Barr’s record on trade back on May 14. “Is Bob Barr a libertarian?” the article asks. “Certainly not on trade.”
This does not appear to be a case of a libertarian’s opposition to “free trade” agreements being confused with opposition to free trade. Here is how Barr voted:
- Numerous times to uphold the trade embargo and travel ban against Cuba.
- Against normal trade relations with China and Vietnam. Denial of NTR would have resulted in drastically higher tariffs on imports from those countries.
- In favor of mandatory â€œcountry of originâ€ labeling on imported food, a federal mandate aimed at discouraging consumers from buying imported food.
- Against lower tariffs on imports from Andean countries, including Colombia.
- Against capping farm subsidy payments to the largest farm operations.
- Against lower tariffs on goods imported from Caribbean and Sub-Saharan African countries.
- In favor of quotas on steel imports.
As the article author Daniel Griswold points out:
Free trade is not just a quirky side issue for libertarians. It is a basic pillar of free-market economics. None other than Adam Smith devoted an entire book of his monumental work The Wealth of Nations to arguing for the freedom of people to trade across international borders. Milton Friedman was an uncompromising advocate of free trade. The same Frederic Bastiat who wrote the libertarian classic The Law also made a career of ridiculing the kind of protectionist measures that so consistently won Bob Barrâ€™s support during his time in Congress.
Griswold had a suggestion for Denver delegates that apparently fell on deaf ears:
When he stands before the Libertarian Party convention next week, Bob Barr needs to tell delegates either that he was wrong all along about free trade or that Adam Smith was wrong.
Bob Barr was not asked about free trade during any public forum in Denver, and his campaign Web site’s issues page is silent on the issue.