You can tell it's general election time because Barack Obama's shifting his message back toward the center with yesterday's economic policy speech, with Austan Goolsbee re-emerging from the doghouse to take part in conference calls, and with Jason Furman -- a more veteran political operator than Goolsbee but someone with substantively similar views -- coming on board as a paid staffer. From the text of the speech, a shift away from the "I hate NAFTA more than you" rhetoric of the Ohio primary to something more like the center-left consensus view:

And because we know that we can’t or shouldn’t put up walls around our economy, a long-term agenda will also find a way to make trade work for American workers. We do the cause of free-trade – a cause I believe in – no good when we pass trade agreements that hand out favors to special interests and do little to help workers who have to watch their factories close down. There is nothing protectionist about demanding that trade spreads the benefits of globalization as broadly as possible.

This is all essentially fine by me because I'm a trust-fund scumbag the "center" wing of Democratic Party economic thought has shifted substantially left over the past few years. You can see that as many members of Clinton's economic team have grown more populist, in Bill Galston deciding that the era of big government is back, in any given Paul Krugman column, etc.

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