Feingold challenges Johnson’s position on free tradeDemocratic Senator Russ Feingold is attacking Republican challenger Ron Johnson for Johnson's support of free trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
By: Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Democratic Senator Russ Feingold is attacking Republican challenger Ron Johnson for Johnson's support of free trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Sen. Feingold voted against the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). He calls them "unfair" in his TV ad. But the ad also says Johnson favors those deals and quotes him as saying both have actually been successful for the economy.
That quote was a snippet of an answer Johnson gave to a listener question about NAFTA and CAFTA during a recent interview on a Wisconsin Public Radio talk program hosted by Joy Cardin.
The quote's meaning does not change much in the context of Johnson's full answer.
"Certainly the information I've seen is, you know, and I realize there've been dislocations,” said Johnson during the July 26 interview. “There always are in any kind of market-based free enterprise economy. And those are unfortunate and we need to do everything we can to create jobs to replace those misplaced workers. But the fact of the matter is NAFTA and CAFTA have actually been successful for our economy. They've dramatically increased trade. It's also extremely important for a state like Wisconsin that relies so much on agriculture."
Johnson went on to say that's because agriculture relies on exports, which require free and fair trade.
The other quote in Feingold's new ad comes from a Wispolitics luncheon in Madison later that same day. Feingold uses a snippet where Johnson says "In a free market capitalist system, there's always winners and losers. It's creative destruction."
The full quote from that interview carries the same context.
"Well, in a free market capitalist system, there's always winners and losers. It's creative destruction. That just happens. It's unfortunate, but let's face it, if it weren't for that we'd still have buggy whip companies."
The National Republican Senatorial Committee did not dispute any specific statement in Feingold's ad, although it called the ad misleading. It issued a statement attacking Feingold for his support of the federal stimulus bill.