Archive for the ‘Tans Pacific Partnership’ category

The Smell Of Coffee

July 5, 2017

Six months does not make a year, and a year does not make a four year term. President Trump (and his advisors), however, are waking up to the reality of governing. Much of President Trump campaign’s boastful rhetoric have already been exposed as misguided myths. Too little time has passed to fairly pass judgement upon what President Trump has done or what he has not. A quick look is not encouraging, however.  Maybe his staff and advisors are saying “pass the coffer”.

On the domestic front, President Trump has continuously blustered about both creating and retaining American jobs. There is little evidence of either, and as important, his budget proposals have circled thousands of current Federal jobs for elimination. I wonder whether the President is using “new math”?

And just in case the Administration has not been looking, internet giants such as Amazon have been marching forward with “job eliminating” new efficiencies. If Trump’s advisors are honest with themselves they should marvel at how resilient the economy they inherited really was.

The Obamacare “repeal and replace” has not turned out to be a “walk in the park”, done, and mark that one off the list type of initiative. Funny but most Americans want the benefits of Obamacare. Further, once fact checked, Republican criticisms melt under a healthy dose of facts and transparency. And best of all, voters have seen what was always there. Republicans are only interested in the tax cut which will accrue for the wealthy. The specific American Health Care Act benefits, if enacted, will be the bare minimum necessary to pass the AHCA.

The campaign’s vitriolic immigration slogans have also been shot full of holes. The top priority Mexican border wall has gone no where after just about everyone involved has declined to endorse the efficacy of addition fencing. Congress has twice chosen not to appropriate money. And, more telling is that there are no indications that illegal immigration has increased.   Even more telling is that business leaders are calling for more temporary labor since they cannot find enough American citizens to fill jobs ranging from technology to agriculture to domestic occupations.

Foreign affairs, probably, best characterizes the Trump Administration ineptness. Trump’s shoot from the hip style has proven to be grossly ineffective. Foreign leaders who possess much less power (ships, soldiers, and planes), have learned to survive employing long term strategies and short term diplomacy. Countries such as Germany, France, Japan, China, and India have over the years cleverly closed large parts of their economies to American companies. These leaders are not going to concede these advantages to President Trump’s taunts and threats.

The President’s decision to withdraw from the TPP and the Paris Climate Accord, both actions were designed to appeal to Trump supporters domestically, simply convinced leaders around the world to say little, work together, and forget about the US until it regains its senses.

His claims of “bombing the S**t out of ISIS and quickly ending the conflict has been shown bogus, but what will he do with what follows ISIS? In Afghanistan, the Trump Administration appears on the verge of increasing troop strength with no known strategy for ending the conflict.

North Korea was to have melted away after President Trump became “buddy-buddy” with China’s President Xi. Today, after North Korea demonstrated ICBM capability President Trump looks to more people, simply a king with no clothes.

There is, of course, plenty of time for future world events to prove President Trump’s blustering prescient.  I wonder whether his staff will up their coffee intake in order to get a real grip on reality?

TPP Or Whatever

May 10, 2015

President Obama is campaigning for public support of the “Trans Pacific Partnership”, a new set of rules and agreements affecting trade between the US and Japan plus 11 other Pacific Ocean facing Countries. The Partnership’s intent is to “level the playing field” and to remove trade barriers.

The President has warned that if the US doesn’t help write the rules, China will. The implication being that China will obtain favorable trade conditions with these Countries and the US will be stuck with the current restrictive trade obstacles. Hmmm.

Supporters promise that with TPP intellectual property will be respected, labor conditions will be the same amongst members, environmental safeguards will be ensured, and protectionist import measures will be eliminated. Trade amongst these Countries today must contend with numerous rules and restrictions, each of which was created to guard against some “offense” while providing advantage to one of these countries.

For example, countries with a different view of intellectual property might choose to reverse engineer an American product and sell it at lower prices back to US businesses. Other Countries might choose not to require environmental protection investments and in so doing allow their companies to produce goods at a lower cost (which would presumably make these products more attractive due to lower price). Use of child labor, prisoners, or unsafe work places also lead to competitive disadvantages.

In Congress, TPP has boiled down to the President and the GOP favoring, and most Democrats against. It seems business interest versus labor and environmentalists. In many regards, The debate rhetoric has the sound of the Iran nuclear negotiations all over. “This deal is a bad deal, keep negotiating for a better deal”. Hmmm.

The status quo protects certain interests and to change the ground rules makes them understandably worry. The proposed new agreements are likely to advantage some interests too and their roaring support is also understandable. So, what’s next?

President Obama will move to put the PTT into effect if he can get “fast track” authority from Congress. With the GOP control of Congress, PTT seems likely.

Democrat opposition, however, runs deep with unions and environmentalists. Hillary Clinton who so far has dodged any commitment or opposition to PTT must consider whether she wants a disgruntled working class voter sitting on the sidelines in 2016. IMO, she could remain neutral and still not fear too much backlash because the GOP represent far more concern to unions and environmentalists.

As I understand the arguments for and against, they all have an element of possible truth. It just seems reasonable that the 21st century ought to warrant trade agreements reflective of a new century.

As always, however, the devil lies in the details.