Posts tagged ‘Free Trade’

11/04/2012

Undecided Voters: Foreign Policy Issues

The better choice on each issue is in the left column, indicated by a (D) for Democrat, (R) for Republican, or (N) for neither.

(D) TRADE WITH CHINA: Although Romney called China a currency manipulator and promised to prosecute them in the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the right to impose tariffs (10-11-11) (11-9-11) (11-12-11) (1-7-12) (1-19-12), since the Great Depression, both parties have worked together to eliminate tariffs, and in recent years, the Republicans have been the loudest advocate of free trade. It is highly unlikely Romney will seek or impose protective tariffs, or interfere with free trade.

(D) TRADE WITH CUBA: Although Romney said he would not open trade with Cuba, until Fidel Castro is dead (1-23-12) (1-26-12), there is actually no reason to treat Cuba any different than the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam, or any other country we now trade with, who was once our enemy. Open the door now.

(D) EURO CRISIS: If the banks and economies around the world were collapsing, Romney said he would act to prevent contagion. (10-11-11). He also said Europe should take care of their own problems (11-9-11), and if Europe had a financial crisis, he wouldn’t give them a blank check, or save their banks (1-16-12). He was critical of the European for using IMF Funds (11-9-11). It appears, as usual, Romney wants to cover both sides of the issue.

(D) IMMIGRATION: Romney promised to crack down on immigration. (8-11-11). He said employers who hire illegal aliens are magnets. (9-7-11) (9-22-11). He would make businesses check the E-Verify data base. (10-18-11) (12-15-11) (1-19-12) (1-26-11). He thinks illegal aliens without jobs will self-deport (1-26-12). He said amnesty for illegal immigrants is another magnet that only encourages more. (12-10-11). He would not give aliens tuition assistance. (9-12-11) (9-22-11) (10-18-11). He would not give them Driver’s licenses. (9-12-11). He wants people with math and science degrees (11-22-11), and English language emersion for immigrants. (1-23-12) (1-26-12). He opposes special routes to citizenship (1-16-12). Although many Republicans favor what Romney has said, business owners in his own party wish to continue hiring illegal aliens, so they can keep paying cash under the table, to avoid payroll taxes and other legal obligations.

(D) MILITARY SERVICE: Romney, who received several deferments during the Vietnam War, found it extraordinary that only a few families were paying the price for freedom (1-7-12)

(D) IRAQ: Obama carried out his campaign pledge to end the misguided War in Iraq. Romney said he thought we had to go to war against Iraq. (1-16-12). Why is that even remotely true?

(D) BIN LADEN: President Obama was the Commander-in-Chief over the raid that eliminated Osama bin Laden. If a Republican had been President when the mission was accomplished, they would be carving his face into Mt. Rushmore. On the assumption Bin Laden was responsible for 911, it was a job well done, and Obama should be credited.

(D) ASSASSINATION: Romney said he thinks the President has a right to order the death of any “American citizens” suspected of terrorism (11-12-11) Sorry, Mitt, no such right.

(D) LIBYA: President Obama waged an almost flawless campaign to help the Libyan freedom fighters remove Gaddafi, their long-time dictator. He refused to put U.S. troops on the ground, but supplied aid to the rebels, and succeeded in bringing change to Libya. Republicans, who spend time on the recent incident in Bengazi, can’t see the forest for the trees.

(D) AFGHANISTAN: We should withdraw from Afghanistan as soon as possible, so our troops can come home, and we can save billions. Romney was vague about Afghanistan during the Republican debates. He said he would defer to generals and conditions on the ground. (6-13-11) (8-11-11) He thinks our commanders in the field don’t want to withdraw. He wouldn’t cut and run. He thinks Obama’s announcement of a withdrawal weakened us (1-16-12) He accused Obama of withdrawing early, but then he also said he would stay until 2014. (11-12-11) (11-22-11) He gave no reasons for wanting to stay until 2014. (1-7-12). He wouldn’t negotiate with the Taliban, since he said they’re terrorists. He incorrectly said they declared war on us. (1-16-12). Romney wants to win in Afghanistan by defeating the Taliban (1-23-12) He also said he wants a gradual transfer to Afghan Security Forces. Frankly, I think Romney wants to be President and will say just about anything, depending on who’s listening.

(D) LAWS OF WAR: Romney said the rights that apply to criminal law are different than those applicable in war (11-22-11)

(D) GUANTANAMO: As to the Guantanamo Prison, Romney thinks we have a right to deny al Qaeda due process. (1-16-12).

(D) PAKISTAN: Romney is concerned about the fact Pakistan has nuclear weapons (2-22-12) He believes they are a fragile nation close to a failed state. He wants to bring Pakistan into the 21st Century (11-22-11) He wants them to let us go after the Taliban and Haqqani Network inside Pakistan (11-12-11). We need to stay out of Pakistan, Mitt. You’re playing with fire there.

(D) SYRIA: Romney said Syria is a threat to Israel (1-26-12), and an ally of Iran. He would use covert means to end Assad’s dictatorship (11-12-11) He would not however impose a no-fly zone over Syria. He would use sanctions and covert means (11-22-11) I say let’s stay out of their war altogether.

(D) ISRAEL: Although Republicans accuse Obama of sticking a thumb in Israel’s eye (8-11-11), the American problem is not too little support for Israel, it’s too much. Our bipartisan American foreign-policy has been controlled by Israeli special interests for a long time. Romney is frightening, because he sounds like a weak leader, who would allow outsiders to control our foreign policy. Romney said it was wrong for Obama to criticize Israel for illegally constructing settlements in occupied Palestine (9-22-11) Weak Republicans like Romney would abandon our long-standing objection to Israel’s illegal taking of the Palestinian territories in 1967. (8-11-11) Since Obama courageously followed international law, we need him to keep Israel from taking the U.S. even deeper into their conflict. Romney pandered to the Jewish community while in Florida (1-26-12), and it’s not surprising his first foreign policy trip would be to Israel (11-22-11) We need a leader much stronger than Romney, one who would stand up to Israel.

(D) IRAN: Romney has a desire to impose crippling sanctions against Iran to keep them from developing nuclear weapons, which he called unacceptable (9-22-11) He falsely accused Obama of not putting crippling sanctions against Iran (1-7-12) He supports Iranian dissidents. He favors regime change and would take military action to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons (11-12-11) He called Obama weak on Iran (12-15-11) Romney said if Iran shut down the Straits of Hormuz, it would be an act of war (1-23-12). He thinks they will sneak dirty bombs into the U.S. through Latin America (2-22-12) Romney would indict Ahmadinejad for violating the Genocide Convention (11-22-11)

(D) LATIN AMERICA: Romney actually thinks the Hezbollah is working in Latin America (11-22-11) (2-22-12) Get real Mitt.

(D) RUSSIA: In one debate, Romney sounded like he didn’t know the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. He was still talking as though Russia was an enemy, as he accused Obama of giving them what they wanted. (11-12-11). Romney worries me.

(D) FOREIGN AID: Romney thinks the U.S. spends more on foreign aid than we should (10-18-11). We are still the richest nation on earth, and if we want allies, we need to give some aid.

(D) HOMELAND SECURITY: Romney would let people who are a “lower risk” go through TSA screening quickly. (11-22-11). Sounds like he wants to set up a fast track for his friends like Donald Trump, while the rest of us wait in line.

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12/08/2011

Romney’s Economy: For Rich Insiders

Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, often called a Republican front-runner, should not, on issues regarding the economy, receive the vote of most Americans, because: 1) his tax policies would favor rich individuals and corporations; 2) his Free Trade policies would kill more manufacturing and U.S. jobs; 3) his promise to eliminate Public Broadcasting would reduce the flow of reliable and objective information; 4) his financial policies would save only the big banks and Wall Street; 5) his housing policies would do nothing for underwater homeowners; 6) his energy plans would ignore wind and solar, but would promote oil, gas, and nuclear special interests; and 7) his health insurance mandate idea will yield private insurance windfalls at the expense of taxpayers.

TAXES: While Romney said he wants to repeal tax breaks, he would in fact give more of them to the rich, by eliminating taxes on dividends, interest, and capital gains. He also wants to lower the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 25%. He appeared willing to tax the poor, when he said everyone should pay, regardless of income, though he did oppose Cain’s 9% national sales tax, which would have hurt the poor the most. Although Romney favors an expanded military role abroad, he opposes raising revenue to pay for it, because he thinks more taxes would only kill jobs. While he has said he wants to cut spending, he would run up even more debt, by staying in our unfunded War in Afghanistan. Although he said we should not pass massive debt on to the next generation, he was not sincere, since he will not stop wasting money on foreign military entanglements.

TRADE: Although Romney promised to issue an Executive Order identifying China as a currency manipulator, because they let the prices of their goods fall below market levels, and he pledged to sue them in the Dispute Resolution Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization, to win the right to selectively impose tariffs, he has no intention of turning back the clock on Free Trade, or the WTO policies that have led to the death of many U.S. industries.

AUTO: Romney said the government should not have loaned money to GM or Chrysler, even though the act successfully saved thousands of American jobs. He would have let them go bankrupt.

JOBS: When Romney was asked to explain why people were laid off from the companies he acquired, he had little to say. He was however clear about his desire to fight unions, and his criticism of the National Labor Relations Board, for taking action against big business. He called corporate profits good, as he believes they trigger new hiring. He called Wall Street protesters people engaged in: “dangerous class warfare.”

FIRST AMENDMENT: While little harm would be done if Romney succeeded in abolishing the Endowment for the Arts, his desire to eliminate Public Broadcasting is a serious threat to the free flow of information, and an affront to those who respect the First Amendment. Those who routinely follow the PBS News Hour and BBC America, searching for reliable news from objective sources, find his desire a real threat to democracy, since we need PBS and the BBC to be informed citizens. As to faith, he correctly said the Founders appreciated the Freedom of Religion, and wrote a Constitution that respected all beliefs.

BANK CRISIS: While Romney said Fed chair Bernanke pumped too much money in the economy, he would not remove Fed power to do so, as he does not want Congress in charge of the currency. He defended President Bush for taking action to keep the banks open, adding we must prevent another contagion. When asked what he would do if the economies of the entire world were collapsing, he promised to take action.

HOUSING: Romney said the housing crisis was caused by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as they gave loans to people who could not afford them. He said slowing down the foreclosure process, buying up troubled homes, or giving a couple thousand towards the purchase of a new home, won’t solve the problem. He predicted home prices will not return, until the free market works.

ENERGY: Romney suggested developing our own oil, gas, and nuclear energy, to achieve energy independence. He said little about putting a new emphasis on solar, wind, or clean energy.

HEALTH CARE: Romney has been the greatest lobbyist the health insurance industry has ever had. He said a problem arose in his state, where 8% of the people had no health insurance, and they sought emergency room care, which shifted costs to taxpayers. He argued everyone has a personal obligation to buy health insurance, an idea he said he got from Newt Gingrich. He enacted a personal mandate and forced everyone to purchase coverage from private carriers. Although subsidies were provided for those who could not afford it, the Mass. plan did not create a more efficient government-run health care plan, like the single-payer system used in Canada. As to the U.S., Romney said Americans were not and are not satisfied with the status quo, because premiums are out of control. Many of Romney’s critics called the new National Health Care law signed by Obama, basically the same as Romney’s state plan. Romney tried, but failed miserably to convince them they were different. He argued the Mass plan was for one state, while the President’s, one-size-fits-all plan was for the entire nation. He argued Obama’s plan raises taxes and spends trillions. He promised a repeal of what has been called Obamacare, claiming we could save 95 billion a year. In a contradictory statement, he offered only to give the states waivers, so they could opt out. He also took both sides of the individual mandate issue, by first saying everyone should buy insurance, but then by arguing mandates are unconstitutional. In the event Obama’s law is repealed, or declared unconstitutional, the question arose as to what to do next. He acknowledged health care costs are disconnected from patient awareness, and people need to have a stake in the cost of health care. He accused the government of having too heavy a role. He advocated co-insurance for patients, but sounded like he did not realize most Americans already had that. Romney said he would turn Medicaid and Medicare over to the states and let them run health care.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Romney called the Social Security retirement program essential, and said it must be saved, not abolished. He called the use of trust fund money for other purposes criminal, and agreed to make the system sound. As to the unfunded prescription drug program, started by President George W. Bush, Romney would not repeal it.

IMMIGRATION: Romney wants no amnesty for illegal immigrants, a fence with agents to secure it, and an elimination of the magnet caused by states that give tuition breaks, and employers who hire illegal aliens. He would implement the federal E-Verify program. He said 4.5 million want to come here legally. He would admit those with degrees in math or science.

09/09/2011

American Jobs Act: Pass It Now

President Obama proposed the American Jobs Act last night to put people back to work in: 1) construction: rebuilding roads, bridges, school buildings, homes and railroads; 2) education: by hiring teachers to train engineers; 3) manufacturing: by increasing exports made in the USA; 4) finance: by restructuring home loans at 4% rates; and 5) in health care: by reforming Medicare.

Obama said our economy has eroded over several decades into a crisis, and it now millions of Americans are out of work. Congress needs to stop conducting a political circus, he said, and advocated several steps they could take right now to fix the economy.

CONSTRUCTION: Obama wants construction crews hired to rebuild roads and bridges, tasks requiring bulldozers and asphalt trucks. Millions of unemployed construction workers could build airports and faster railroads. Carpenters could repair and modernize 35,000 schools, by fixing roofs and windows. They could install science labs, and Internet facilities. Obama advocated putting them to work rehabilitating homes. Next summer, disadvantaged youth could work, presumably as helpers.

CUT RED TAPE: Obama suggested cutting any red tape that gets in the way. He has but two criteria: 1) How badly is the project needed? 2) How much good would it do for the economy? We should have no more rules and regulations than health, safety and security require, he said. He rejected any idea of ending collective bargaining rights, saying we need not be in a race to the bottom.

EDUCATION: He wants to put thousands of teachers back to work in the classroom. We need to train 10,000 engineers a year.

MANUFACTURING: He would expand manufacturing jobs by signing trade deals with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea, so Americans could market more goods abroad. We need to sell more American-made goods around the world, he said. The next generation of manufacturing needs take place here in America.

FINANCE: Obama wants to generate work in the finance sector at savings and loans, and at banks, by helping homeowners refinance their mortgage loans at 4% interest rates. This would create savings, and generate spending, and stimulate the economy.

HEALTH CARE: He wants to keep people busy in the health care industry by making additional changes to Medicare and Medicaid.

OFFSET BY MEDICARE CUTS: The President said his plan would be offset by budget cuts, and it need not add to the deficit. We must make additional cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, he said, because their spending is unsustainable.

OFFSET BY TAXING RICH: Obama said we need to eliminate loopholes, deductions, and tax breaks for millionaires.

OFFSET BY ENDING CORPORATE LOOPHOLES: Obama said the Tax Code could be reformed so big corporations paid their fair share. Do we really need oil company loopholes?

TAX BREAKS FOR NEW HIRES: The President suggested tax advantages for companies that invest and create jobs in America. He would give tax breaks to companies who hire new workers, or raise wages. Companies will get a $4,000 tax credit if they hire someone who has spent more than six months looking for a job.

CUT INDIVIDUAL TAXES: Obama proposed cutting in half payroll taxes for working Americans. Families would get a $1,500 tax cut next year, under his plan, again to stimulate the economy.

MUST ACT NOW: Although the next Presidential election is 14 months away, Obama said the people do not have the luxury of waiting that long and they need help now. He asked Congress to pass his plan right away, saying: “Doing nothing is not an option.”

08/17/2011

Republican Debate Economics (8-11-11)

As the Republicans debated economic issues in Iowa, including the recent increase in the Debt Ceiling, many demonstrated an intellectual dishonesty, as they again pledged not to raise taxes, but simultaneously supported costly military expeditions abroad, two positions that will certainly force the U.S. to borrow billions.

TAXES: Gingrich continued to shovel the idea that tax cuts will led to growth, while Santorum and Cain, respectively, want to reduce to zero the Corporate Income Tax, and Capital Gains Tax.

BORROW-SPEND: The Republican refusal to raise taxes has led to borrowing and spending, which has sunk the nation deep into debt, leaving only two choices: 1) increase the Debt Ceiling and borrow so creditors who lent the money can be paid, or 2) default.

DEBT CEILING: Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann demonstrated a stark ignorance regarding the economy, as she condemned her Republican colleagues for increasing the Debt Ceiling. She confused the issue by saying those who voted for an increase gave Obama money, when in fact all they did was prevent a default on loans already made. The new kid on the block, Herman Cain, also opposed an increase in the Debt Ceiling.

Former Utah Gov. Huntsmann, a voice of reason, said he would never let the U.S. default and called the National Debt a cancer. Former Sen. Santorum also said the Debt Ceiling had to be raised, but Romney just talked about upgrading the Mass. credit rating.

U.S. BUDGET: As to the Budget, Congressman Ron Paul wisely said if there are going to be any federal cuts, military budgets have got to be on the table. Former House leader Gingrich, criticized the Committee of 12, which was convened to resolve budget issues.

FEDERAL RESERVE: Paul’s weakest area is his distain for the Federal Reserve Board. As to monetary policies that have kept interest rates low, Paul was critical, saying they only distort the economy. Apparently, he does not think they will stimulate economic activity. At one point Paul said the U.S. owes the Federal Reserve 1.6 trillion, and the Fed should be audited. Paul’s comments were obviously popular with the partisan crowd, as they booed Santorum for attacking Paul. Gingrich joined Paul saying it is a scandal that the Fed deals with billions in secret, and does not explain who is bailed out, or why.

FREE TRADE & JOBS: On the issue of jobs and trade, Santorum, who consistently supported Free Trade while in the Senate, correctly pointed out the number of Americans employed in manufacturing dropped from 21% to 9%, but he offered no solutions. Romney said we need trade policies that work for us, but he also failed to give any details. When he was asked to explain why people were laid off from companies he owned, he had little to say.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: Regarding the regulation of the environment, Huntsman, who owns a global corporation, said the EPA does not let businesses expand, and accused them of running a “reign of terror.”

HEALTH INSURANCE: On the economics of health, all of the Republicans of course piled on against the law the Democrats passed in 2009. Pawlenty said the Obama health care plan was modeled after Romney’s in Mass. Romney said the Mass plan was for one state, and the President’s is a one-size-fits-all, for the entire nation. He promised to grant waivers to any state that requested one.

As to the mandate to make people buy health insurance, Romney argued all have a personal responsibility to buy it. Paul said the insurance and drug companies love the mandate, and thought only doctors and patients would suffer. Bachmann thinks the government has no authority to force people buy health insurance, a position her activist right-wing friends on the Supreme Court will likely endorse. Gingrich suggested repealing Obamacare, but like the others, offered no answer to the health insurance crisis.

06/13/2011

Tariffs: Why We Abandoned Them

Since the U.S. was founded, politicians debated the virtues of free trade versus protective tariffs. Historically, the industrial North manufactured goods and advocated the imposition of protective tariffs to make products made in Europe more expensive than our own. On the other hand, the agricultural South desired reciprocal free trade, because they had no industry to protect, and wanted to export cotton and tobacco, without facing retaliatory tariffs.

Alexander Hamilton argued infant American industries needed protection to give them time to develop and compete against more established European companies. After the American Revolution, President Washington approved a Congressional Act that placed tariffs on foreign goods (1789). Presidents Madison, Monroe, and John Q. Adams, also signed laws protecting American industries.

Southern Democrats were able to lower tariffs, at least before the Civil War. Andrew Jackson was the first President to openly support free trade (1828) and Presidents Tyler (1841-45), Polk (1846), and Buchanan (1857), vetoed and reduced them.

President Lincoln, an Illinois Republican, promoted industrial growth, and favored tariffs in the 1860 election, causing the South to secede, and triggering the American Civil War (1861-65).

After the war, tariffs became the norm in U.S. trade for the next seven decades. President Harrison, a Northern Republican, raised them to new highs, under the McKinley Act (1890). Ohio Republicans, Taft (1909) and Harding (1922) also increased them.

Following the 1929 Stock Market crash, President Hoover, an Iowa Republican, believed more protection was the answer, as he signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act (1930), raising U.S. import duties 60%, to an all-time high. This caused foreigners to impose retaliatory duties, reduced international trade, and exacerbated the Great Depression. When it became clear high tariffs were making the depression even worse, policy makers turned to free trade economists for answers.

Economists explained that tariffs on imported goods caused retail prices to rise, as they were simply added to the cost of the goods sold. Consumers, not foreign manufacturers, ultimately ended up paying tariffs. Economists argued they created a net societal loss.

They also explained that when nations use tariffs, other countries respond by enacting retaliatory tariffs, which negatively affect exports. If for example the U.S. placed tariffs on French wine, and France retaliated by imposing duties on the import of U.S. autos, the export industries in both nations would lose.

Since the Great Depression, the U.S. has been involved in a long march away from protective tariffs and towards free trade. President Franklin Roosevelt set the U.S. on a new course, by signing the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (1934), which delegated to him the authority to lower tariffs, product by product.

For the past 75 years, both political parties have embraced free trade, because they fear tariffs decrease international trade, harm national export industries, and hurt domestic consumers, with higher prices. What they have ignored is the other side of the coin. The abandonment of tariffs also explains why U.S. factories have been closing, and why American workers are losing their jobs.