To mention the U.S.'s latest free trade agreements (FTAs) is to start a discussion about jobs. When Congress passed free trade deals this week with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, it ended a four-year drought for the federal government getting FTAs approved. The last such bilateral accord was reached with Peru in 2007.
Such agreements have detractors and supporters on both sides of the aisle. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have been vociferous advocates for the deals, on the basis that the U.S. should both embrace globalization and that the U.S. can only benefit from the opening of markets. But in an era of economic uncertainty, protectionism has proven both a respected policy as well as a go-to talking point for politicians seeking to make easy populist appeals.