Tying together recent threads on prescription drug policy and tradE, here I see PPI’s Ed Gresser (PPI is the DLC think tank) making the case that our trade policy needs to change not to become more favorable to the interests of working class Americans, but to become more favorable to the interests of movie studio executives and pharmaceutical company shareholders.
“In his first public comments on the Bush administration’s surprise decision to replace him as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace disclosed that he had turned down an offer to voluntarily retire rather than be forced out.”
To quit in wartime, he said, would be letting down the troops.
“One thing that was discussed was whether or not I should just voluntarily retire and take the issue off the table,” Pace said, according to a transcript released Friday by his office at the Pentagon.
“I said I could not do that for one very fundamental reason,” which is that no soldier or Marine in Iraq should “think — ever — that his chairman, whoever that person is, could have stayed in the battle and voluntarily walked off the battlefield.
Young Ezra observes that “One could easily imagine a left win that’s closer to the Dobbsian/Christian Democrat compromise of social conservatism with economic progressivism.” And, as he says, it’s easy to imagine a situation in which politics takes place on an axis between a party of Economist-reading elites and Dobbs-watching populists. Indeed, one often witnesses libertarians imagining just that — see, e.g., Virginia Postrel’s The Future and Its Enemies and Brink Lindsey on “liberaltarians.”
Fortunately, the modern world actually provides many different examples of mature electoral democracies. I’m not positive about this, but my sense is that a survey of two-party dynamics would indicate that something roughly resembling the American pattern is the rule rather than the exception. In Spain, gay marriage was brought in by the Socialist Party. Labour in Britain is the party of the unions and the party of gay rights and multiculturalism. The Liberals in Canada are opposed by low-tax, traditionalist Conservatives. And so it goes.
Obviously, this would be more a topic for rigorous academic research than a blog post, but my sense of things is that there’s some relatively “deep” reason that this configuration of political coalitions is so much more common than the alternative.
In an interview this week with Bloomberg TV, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani declared that he would consider increasing U.S. troop levels in Iraq, beyond the tens of thousands of soldiers ordered in January as part of President Bush’s escalation policy.
Bloomberg host Peter Cook asked Giuliani, “If General Petraeus comes back in September and says, we can win this thing, but it’s going to take more U.S. troops, could you support the notion of adding even more U.S. troops to Iraq?”
Giuliani said he could support escalating Bush’s escalation, provided Petraeus believed he “need[ed] more troops to make it work in order to get Iraq to a situation where Iraq is stable.” When Cook noted that many Americans would strongly oppose such a plan, Giuliani said, “Hey, you know, leadership is about sometimes doing the things you know are right.” Watch it:
During the most recent presidential debates, Giuliani said that invading Iraq was “absolutely the right thing to do,” and claimed the war would “help reduce the risk for this country.” Giuliani’s current foreign policy advisers include retired Gen. Jack Keane, the architect of the Iraq escalation, and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.
But Giuliani often doesn’t wear his support for Bush’s deeply unpopular war policy on his sleeve. A widely-publicized document Giuliani released this week detailing his “12 Commitments” to America doesn’t contain a single reference to Iraq.
Transcript: Read more
The Economist‘s reliably bad Lexington column reviews Bryan Caplan:
The public’s anti-foreign bias is equally pronounced. Most Americans think the economy is seriously damaged by companies sending jobs overseas. Few economists do. People understand that the local hardware store will sell them a better, cheaper hammer than they can make for themselves. Yet they are squeamish about trade with foreigners, and even more so about foreigners who enter their country to do jobs they spurn. Hence the reluctance of Democratic presidential candidates to defend free trade, even when they know it will make most voters better off, and the reluctance of their Republican counterparts to defend George Bush’s liberal line on immigration.
It’s worth noting, however, that absolutely all of the Democratic candidates are proposing policies that would result in very high levels of foreign trade. Dennis Kucinich has by far the most radical view on this matter and wants us to withdraw from multilateral trade pacts and “go back to bilateral trade conditioned on human rights, workers’ rights, and the environment.” Such a policy would, it seems, entail essentially unrestricted importation of goods from Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan plus maybe a few other places.
And, needless to say, Dennis Kucinich isn’t going to be president. The most trade-skeptical positions I’ve heard outlined suggest either that there should be no new trade deals until a larger welfare state is established, or else that no new trade deals should be signed unless they include rigorous labor and environmental standards. Perhaps this would lead to a situation in which President X presides over an administration that implements no new trade deals whatsoever. Even were that to happen, the US economy would still be substantially more open to foreign imports than it was 15 years ago before NAFTA or the Uruguay Round of GATT.
For that to be the case, either the public must not actually have an especially strong “anti-foreign” bias or else the political system is already highly insensitive to public opinion. Were Caplan’s vision of a country at the mercies of irrational voters closer to the mark, surely we should expect a Kucinich boom as he’s actually proposing a reduction in the volume of foreign trade.
“Insurgents disguised themselves as cameramen so as not to raise suspicion while planting explosives at a major Sunni mosque near Basra early Friday morning. They detonated the bombs shortly after they left, destroying the mosque, and raising fears that sectarian fallout from Wednesday’s Samarra mosque bombing is stretching deep into southern Iraq.”
the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city.
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) yesterday blocked Judiciary Committee vote on whether to authorize subpoenas to obtain secret documents related to the NSA’s warrantless domestic surveillance program. Kyl’s action “will block the vote for a week,” after which the Committee will “decide whether to issue the subpoenas or use them as leverage in negotiations with the Bush administration over access to the documents.”
A December 2005 complaint against controversial senior Justice Dept. official Bradley Schlozman alleged that Schlozman was “systematically attempting to purge all Civil Rights appellate attorneys hired under Democratic administrations.”
[Schlozman] appeared to be “targeting minority women lawyers” in the Civil Rights Division and was replacing them with “white, invariably Christian men.” The lawyer also alleged that “Schlozman told one recently hired attorney that it was his intention to drive these attorneys out of the Appellate Section so that he could replace them with ‘good Americans.’”
In the circles I travel in, the analytic point of the Third Way’s months-old analysis “The New Rules Economy” and their just released “Middle Class Compact” are very controversial. Roughly speaking, Third Way asserts that middle class families are better off than most progressives say. To me, though, this is all a bit besides the point. When you bore down to policy specifics, Third Way frames the problems in pretty uncontroversial ways. On health care, for example:
Under the old rules, businesses could afford rising wages and generous benefits for their employees. Now they are competing in a global economy, and soaring health care costs have made yesterday’s calculation difficult. In fact, rising health care premiums cut $3,250 a year from the paychecks of average workers. We now have to rein in health care costs and shift some of the burden away from businesses so they can readily increase wages while remaining globally competitive.
Control costs, shift responsibility away from employers. Pretty uncontroversial stuff, if a bit on the timid side. But their actual proposal is this: “Enable small businesses to pool together to purchase insurance for their workers at lower prices.” Now, look. I’m on the timid side in terms of what’s advisable to propose, and this is just laughable by any standard. For most workers and most employers it just won’t change anything. And even for small business owners and employees it doesn’t do much. At best, it puts your typical small business in something closer to the position of a large business, which just gets us back to the point that health insurance costs are growing at a frightening pace.