This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," February 23, 2008.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: Coming up next on the "Journal Editorial Report," the Democrats' new economic populism. From trade to taxes, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are trying to out-left each other in their fight for the nomination. Is it pure politics? Or a true sign of how they will govern?
Health care question. We will take a hard look at the plans being put forth by both Democratic candidates.
Adios, Fidel. Our panel looks at life in Cuba after Castro.
But first, these headlines.
GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
He may be long gone from the Democratic race but John Edwards' message is alive and well. Ahead of key contests in Ohio and Pennsylvania, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have taken on a markedly populist tone, taking up trade and taxes anxious to win over blue-collar workers and union support. Is it for the sake of the nomination or a true sign of they will govern?
Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal, columnist and deputy editor Dan Henninger, columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady and senior economics writer Steve Moore.
Let me start with you, Steve.
Bill Clinton supported NAFTA and passed it. He supported a cut in the capital gains tax back in 1997. Is this still on economic policy Bill Clinton's Democratic Party?
STEVE MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMICS WRITER: No, not at all action Paul. In fact, if Barack Obama were elected president, he would be the first protectionist president since Herbert Hoover. If you listen to both what Hillary and Barack are talking about in terms of taxes and this populist message that we will give tax cuts to the middle class but we'll hammer the rich with higher tack rates.
Another area to think about, Paul, is this kind of phony pro consumerism where the both Hillary Clinton and Barack want to go after credit card companies, drug conditions, the oil companies. They always use big in front of whatever industry it is.
GIGOT: Steve, let me push you on the spot about Obama. He supported the Peru free trade agreement. Now he says he was the most consistently against NAFTA of all of the Democratic. Of course he wasn't in Congress at the time and didn't have to vote for whereas Hillary Clinton was in the White House when her husband supported it. Is Barack Obama really a protectionist or is this just for the campaign.
MOORE: Paul, he says he is for fair trade, not free trade...
GIGOT: But the Republicans say that much. Everyone says that nowadays.
MOORE: That's true. What he would do in terms of his trade policy is encumber these trade agreements with labor and environmental policies that could unravel the trade deals in the first place.
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Paul, the party moved so much further left. Steve is right is it as far left since the 1930s. I think it is all politics. Nobody really thinks protectionism work.
But they are playing with fire. You just have to light the match and if you get the protection analyst thing going, which I suspects they don't want to do, then you get into a sequence that we did have back in the 1930s. I don't think the unions truly believe that.
GIGOT: There is no question there is a union component here. Obama got the teamster's endorsement this week, not long after coming out against the South Korean free trade agreement. That is still pending in Congress.