Why Obama needs Jon Huntsman (and others like him)

Friday’s impressive jobs report is a positive shot in the arm for what the economy needs about now. Politically speaking, adding 243,000 new jobs — the most since last April — is good news indeed for the president’s approval ratings.

What caused many economists to breathe a sigh of relief is that many in the private sector appear to be hiring again, including specialty trades such as manufacturing. While this is no time to be popping champagne and celebrating the demise of the Great Recession, last month’s jobs report gives us many indications of the economy moving forward.

One of those indicators is foreign trade. This country is still the world’s No. 1 exporter, and it will not soon surrender that title. Over 96 percent of the world’s markets rest beyond our borders. We can only sell so many iPads and caramel mochas here stateside before we are stalled again in shallow economic waters.

Yes, American workers need foreign trade to boost employment here at home. That’s why the president should thank his former ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, and many more like him. Huntsman understands what a free market looks like, and he did as good a job as he could pushing Beijing to adopt similar open policies.

If the president has any hopes of turning this ship of state around and further lowering the unemployment rate, enhanced international commerce will be one pillar in that foundation. I don’t know how he should do it, but if Obama were smart (and I know he is), he should look for more individuals such as Huntsman in and around his Cabinet.

I’m talking less about esoteric, policy-driven diplomats, and more business-savvy, commercially minded folks who see dollar signs on behalf of the American economy. It’s time to get a sales force on the international trade stage — a U.S. “dream team,” if you will, constantly pushing for American goods and know-how.  The days of outsourcing are over, hopefully. The president said as much during his State of the Union. Let’s build on that quality-is-better mantra that Americans have been known for and renew the push beyond our shores.