**Written by Doug Powers
Over the months, Hillary Clinton misstated key facts about her use of private email and her own server for her work as secretary of state, the department’s inspector general reported this week.
According to the findings, she claimed approval she didn’t have and declined to be interviewed for the report despite saying “I’m more than ready to talk to anybody anytime.” Scrutiny of her unusual email practices appeared to be unwelcome, despite her contention those practices were well known and “fully above board.”
Update your AP style books to indicate that it’s acceptable to waive the use of “lying” if the subject is Hillary.
Here’s the latest on the technologically superior candidate who’s going to spearhead America’s march into the middle part of the 21st century:
Hillary Clinton Wasn’t Adept at Using a Desktop for Email, Inquiry Is Told https://t.co/vZWKMv6DHP
— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) May 27, 2016
The New York Times, in a January editorial, called Hillary “one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history.”
**Written by Doug Powers
K. William Watson
If there’s one thing all the remaining 2016 presidential candidates can agree on, it’s that China is to blame for America’s economic woes. Donald Trump says that “China is killing us” and has proposed a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have also accused China, in different ways, of harming our economy through mutually beneficial exchange.
But the most emphatic China-bashing of 2016 isn’t happening in the presidential race. It’s happening in the Senate election in Ohio, where both candidates are directly accusing each other of the horrible crime of being “good for China.”
It’s no surprise that trade policy has become a central part of this particular race. Anti-trade sentiment is being stoked nationwide but especially in Rust Belt states like Ohio, where shifting employment patterns and stagnant labor markets have given politicians an opportunity to blame foreigners for the mythical demise of America’s still-thriving manufacturing sector.
Portman’s capitulation could pave the way to higher taxes in the United States, harming consumers and businesses around the world.
Ohio’s incumbent Republican senator, Rob Portman, has a pro-trade record that is ripe for criticism in today’s political environment. Portman has a strong record in support of free trade during his time as the U.S. trade representative, and in both the U.S. House and Senate.
Portman’s challenger, Democratic former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, has a nearly opposite record on trade. During his more than 10 years in the House, he voted against all the trade agreements Portman supported, and has been a close friend of the labor movement throughout his time in public office.
An election campaign is hardly the time to confront voters with sophisticated economic policy debates, so candidates need catch phrases and clichés to gain electoral points. Protectionists usually use phrases like “fair trade” or “level the playing field” or “bring back American jobs” as shorthand for raising tariffs on imports. And sometimes, as Strickland has done in Ohio, they pick a foreign country and blame that country for all of their constituents’ perceived economic ills.
Strickland has pulled off this strategy with flair. He ran an ad in which Portman’s face is superimposed on the body of a Chinese gymnast performing a “triple-aerial flip-flop.” The fake sports announcer notes, “Rob’s been practicing it his whole career — supporting one bad trade deal after another, sending hundreds of thousands of jobs to China. Now, in an election year, he says he is against a trade deal he voted for last year.”
It’s not clear how free trade agreements with countries like Australia and Morocco could possibly send hundreds of thousands of jobs to China, but it’s important to have a bad guy. Strickland has even done a web prank where makingchinagreatagain.com sends you to Portman’s official website.
The gymnast ad ends with a catch phrase Strickland is now regularly using to describe Portman: “the best senator China’s ever had.”
In a better world, this would be a great opportunity for Portman to take credit for helping lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. China has a population of 1.3 billion people who still subsist on a per-capita income roughly one-fourth as high as Americans’. China’s amazing economic growth over the past few decades owes a lot to China’s increased openness to foreign trade, which the United States helped foster. Portman could show pride in having played some small part in those efforts.
Portman could also point out how trade is a cooperative activity that promotes peace while benefiting Americans and foreigners through better jobs and lower prices. What’s good for China can also be good for America — Portman could say — and we should find more and more ways to strive toward mutual benefit and cooperation.
But electoral politics aren’t so ideal. Instead of thanking Strickland, Portman’s response has been to point back at Strickland and say, “No. You!”
Portman has repeatedly accused Strickland of being “weak on China,” as if China is something that needs to be fought against by restricting Americans’ right to trade. He’s even set up a website of his own — weakonchina.com — to highlight Strickland’s “hypocrisy.” His campaign is running a series of ads that point to the two times in his entire career that Strickland could have voted for higher tariffs, but didn’t. One ad points to when Ohio, under Strickland’s governorship, “gave a $4 million dollar loan to a company with a Chinese factory.” Sen. Portman, the ad says, is the one who will be “protecting Ohio jobs when China cheats.”
Portman has run so far away from his record that he even told reporters that he likes what Donald Trump is saying about trade. Remember that one of Trump’s main complaints about U.S. trade agreements is that they were negotiated by “political hacks.” Presumably, that includes former U.S. trade representative Rob Portman.
Perhaps Ohio’s China-bashing is an indictment of Portman’s inability to stand up for good economic policy. Perhaps it reflects more on the popular power of Donald Trump’s belligerent economic nationalism. Either way, Portman’s capitulation could pave the way to higher taxes in the United States, harming consumers and businesses around the world.K. William Watson is a Texas-based trade policy analyst for the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute think tank in Washington, D.C.
Almost 6 million Syrians have left their home country due to the civil war. Most of them are in the Middle East: 2.7 million in Turkey, 1.1 million in Lebanon and 640,000 in Jordan. The United States has resettled a mere 3,619 here while Europe has accepted over 1 million. Western nations aren’t politically eager to accept more fleeing Syrians due to fears of terrorism and the cost to taxpayers.
Allowing Americans to privately sponsor refugees, increasing the numbers or giving them priority for work visas would all ease the humanitarian crisis. If those options are not politically possible, the United States and other Western nations have other options to help Syrian refugees in the Middle East that will help keep them there.
The United States and Europe should extend even more generous free-trade agreements (FTAs) to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. In exchange, those governments will hand out legal work permits to the Syrian refugees and remove all restrictions on their employment, entrepreneurial activity and living arrangements. They shouldn’t face extra fees, or wage or labor market regulations. Likewise, firms that hire the Syrians shouldn’t face any extra burdens, fees or taxes.
Free-trade agreements with Middle Eastern nations hosting Syrian refugees will accomplish important humanitarian and economic goals in that beleaguered region while satisfying other political goals in the West.
Expanded FTAs will lessen the humanitarian burden and improve the livelihood of Syrians at zero fiscal cost to the West. All we’d give up are a few tariffs and customs procedures that make us worse off anyway. Enhanced FTAs will spur domestic industry in nations housing Syrians, sucking up refugees and natives alike in an expanding economy.
More income, employment and options for the Syrians will help them start their lives anew and decrease the pressure to leave. A handful will use their newfound income to smuggle themselves to the West, but the desperate humanitarian urgency will diminish. Instead of a mad scramble to resettle asylum seekers showing up on Europe’s coasts, an orderly process of refugee resettlement can continue at lower numbers while the Syrians start their lives again.
Free-trade agreements can make a big difference in Middle Eastern countries hosting Syrians. The 2001 U.S. FTA with Jordan helped expand their exports from $229.2 million to almost $1.5 billion in 2015 — much of it concentrated in the labor-intensive apparel industry. Europe also has an FTA with Jordan.
Trade with Jordan is already so liberalized that little can be done to improve it besides freeing agricultural commodities — a big potential employer of lower-skilled Syrians. Europe and the United States should also listen to Jordanian complaints about our trade deals and unilaterally amend them to their liking. Jordan is already issuing and expanding work permits to Syrians without negative economic consequences; Western trade actions can help make sure both continue.
Expanding the Jordanian FTA to Turkey and Lebanon can also help. Lebanon is a small country with a major port but a lot of political instability made worse by European-style labor market regulations that encourage black-market hiring. According to an International Labour Organization report, “Most Syrian refugees work as informal labourers, whereby 92 percent of workers do not have a contract. Around 72 percent are hired on an hourly, daily, weekly, or seasonal basis; only 23 per cent are paid a regular monthly salary.”
Lebanon’s government is currently issuing permits to some Syrians, but they aren’t allowed to start businesses in many parts of the country. Removing strict labor market regulations that cause black-market employment would relieve that situation. The promise of a generous FTA and access to a rich market could provide the impetus to spur labor market and refugee reforms.
Turkey, on the other hand, is a larger and more modern economy with greater political stability. They’ve begun to grant permits to Syrian workers, but with minimum wages and a prohibition on more than 10 percent of employees in any single firm being Syrian. An FTA with Turkey should insist on removing those regulations while simultaneously opening up the American market to Turkish firms, giving a huge incentive to hire the Syrians and many Turks.
Free-trade agreements with Middle Eastern nations hosting Syrian refugees will accomplish important humanitarian and economic goals in that beleaguered region while satisfying other political goals in the West, like keeping the Syrians out. Ultimately, the United States should welcome in more Syrian refugees. But targeted FTAs can at least make a big difference in the mean time.Alex Nowrasteh is immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute.