No, Obama didn’t sign a bunch of trade deals

Barack Obama dropped a lot of horsefeathers on the stage during the second debate, but one of his more overlooked fibs concerned his alleged free-trade credentials. Walter Lohman of the Heritage Foundation sets the record straight:

President Obama said during the debate that he signed three trade deals. Not true. Obama was left three free trade agreements on his desk when he took office. Those deals and many others were initiated, negotiated, and signed by President Bush. The one trade agreement that Obama has prioritized, the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) involving now 11 countries, was also initiated by President George W. Bush.

What Obama did was to delay passage of agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama that were already completed. He did so to appease labor unions and others in his political base. During the three years of waiting for the President to submit the U.S.-Korea FTA, the U.S. lost $30 billion in exports.

For the record, Heritage analysts also think Mitt Romney overestimates the impact of Chinese currency manipulation on the American economy. Instead, “pro-growth tax reform, reducing undue regulatory burdens on the economy, and enabling energy exploration and production” are the right medicine for a true recovery, and only one person on stage was offering that prescription Tuesday night. Hint: it was the guy who had to explain that General Motors really did go bankrupt.