Thursday, November 24, 2016

Day One of Trump Presidency: Withdraw From the TPP

It does appear that the main beneficiaries of this deal were going to be crony-infested big businesses. It was conceived as a free trade pact but rapidly got corrupted into favours for insiders. The potential benefits for average Americans were slight

President-elect Donald Trump said Monday that on his first day in office next January he will begin the process of withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a prospective trade deal which has been a centerpiece of the Obama administration’s “rebalance” to Asia, but which Trump while campaigning called “horrible.”

Trump said in an online video message on priorities for his first 100 days that he has asked his transition team “to develop a list of executive actions we can take on day one, to restore our laws and bring back our jobs. It’s about time.”

“On trade, I am going to issue our notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a potential disaster for our country,” he said. “Instead, we will negotiate fair, bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back onto American shores.”

Trump characterized the move a part of a plan to advance the simple core principle of “putting American first.”

“Whether it’s producing steel, building cars, or curing disease, I want the next generation of production and innovation to happen right here, on our great homeland, America – creating wealth and jobs for American workers,” he said.

The TPP partners the U.S. with 11 countries on either side of the Pacific – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman has said the agreement would usher in more than $130 billion a year in estimated GDP growth and more than $350 billion in additional exports.

But Trump during the campaign described the TPP as “horrible” and “one of the worst trade deals,” adding that “I’d rather make individual deals with individual countries. We will do much better.”

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time negotiations for the deal were launched, also opposed it during her presidential campaign – despite having praised it in earlier years, saying in 2012 that it set “the gold standard in trade agreements.”

‘There is no free lunch’

During a series of meetings in New Jersey on Sunday, Trump on Sunday met with Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor who is believed to be in the running to be commerce secretary in a Trump administration.

“They engaged in a conversation regarding negotiating the best foreign deals, American manufacturing and job creation,” the transition team said in a statement afterwards.

Ross is known to be critical of free trade deals.

“Free trade is like free lunch,” he said in a Fox Business interview last August. “There is no free lunch. Somebody wins and somebody loses and unfortunately we’ve been losing with these stupid agreements that we’ve made.”

Trump’s announcement Monday came three days after Obama met with the other TPP leaders in Peru and, in the words of a White House readout, “discussed the United States' continued strong support for trade, our commitment to strengthening ties to the Asia-Pacific, and the need to remain engaged in an increasingly interconnected world.”

“President Obama discussed his support of high-standard trade agreements like TPP, which level the playing field for American workers and advance our interests and values in the economically dynamic and strategically-significant Asia-Pacific region,” it said.

The readout said Obama had urged the other TPP partners’ leaders “to continue to work together to advance TPP.”

During a press conference in Lima on Sunday, Obama said his meeting with the TPP partners had been “a chance to reaffirm our commitment to the TPP, with its high standards, strong protections for workers, the environment, intellectual property and human rights.”

“Our partners made very clear during the meeting that they want to move forward with TPP; preferably, they’d like to move forward with the United States.”

Obama said that not moving ahead with the TPP “would undermine our position across the region and our ability to shape the rules of global trade in a way that reflects our interests and our values.”

In a speech last September, Secretary of State John Kerry urged Congress to pass the TPP during the lame duck session.

“We can’t just stand up and say to the world, ‘Hey, we’re a Pacific power.’ We have to show it in our actions and in our choices,” he said at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“We can’t talk about the ‘rebalance’ to Asia one day and then sit on the sidelines the next, and expect to possibly send a credible message to partners and to potential partners around the world.”

Trump's other priorities

Other measures listed by Trump in Monday’s video included:

--canceling “job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy, including shale energy and clean coal”

--formulating a rule saying that for every new regulation introduced, two old regulations must be eliminated

--tasking the Pentagon and joint chiefs of staff to develop a comprehensive plan to protect the nation’s vital infrastructure from cyber or other types of attack

--directing the Department of Labor to investigate all visa program abuses “that undercut the American worker”

--introducing a five-year ban on executive officials working as lobbyists after leaving the administration, and a  lifetime ban on executive officials lobbying on behalf of foreign governments

“These are just a few of the steps we will take to reform Washington and rebuild our middle class,” he concluded.



Backward-Looking 'Progressives'

Thomas Sowell
People who call themselves “progressives” claim to be forward-looking, but a remarkable amount of the things they say and do are based on looking backward.

One of the maddening aspects of the thinking, or non-thinking, on the political left is their failure to understand that there is nothing they can do about the past. Whether people on the left are talking about college admissions or criminal justice, or many other decisions, they go on and on about how some people were born with lesser chances in life than other people.

Whoever doubted it? But, once someone who has grown up is being judged by a college admissions committee or by a court of criminal justice, there is nothing that can be done about their childhood. Other institutions can deal with today’s children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and should, but the past is irrevocable. Even where there are no economic differences among various families in which children are raised, there are still major differences in the circumstances into which people are born, even within the same family, which affect their chances in later life as adults.

For example, among children of the same parents, raised under the same roof, the first born, as a group, have done better than their later siblings, whether measured by IQ tests or by becoming National Merit Scholarship finalists or by various other achievements.

The only child has also done better, on average, than children who have siblings. The advantage of the first born may well be due to the fact that he or she was an only child for some time, perhaps for several formative years.

By the time people have grown up and apply to college, all that is history. Nothing that a college admissions committee can do will change anything about their childhoods. The only things these committees' decisions can affect are the present and the future. This is not rocket science.

Nevertheless, there are people who urge college admissions committees to let disadvantaged students be admitted with lower test scores or other academic indicators.

Those who say such things seldom even attempt to see what the actual consequences of such policies have been. The prevailing preconceptions — sometimes called what “everybody knows” — are sufficient for them.

Factual studies show that admitting students to institutions whose standards they do not meet often leads to needless academic failures, even among students with above average ability, who could have succeeded at other institutions whose standards they do meet.

The most comprehensive of these studies of Americans is the book “Mismatch” by Sander and Taylor. Similar results in other countries are cited in my own book, “Affirmative Action Around the World.”

When it comes to criminal justice, there is much the same kind of preoccupation on the left with the past that cannot be changed. Murderers may in some cases have had unhappy childhoods, but there is absolutely nothing that anybody can do to change their childhoods after they are adults.

The most that can be done is to keep murderers from committing more murders, and to deter others from committing murder. People on the left who want to give murderers “another chance” are gambling with the lives of innocent people. That is one of many other examples of the cruel consequences of seemingly compassionate decisions and policies.

Ironically, people on the left who are preoccupied with the presumably unhappy childhoods of murderers, which they can do nothing about, seldom show similar concern about the present and future unhappy childhoods of the orphans of people who have been murdered.

Such inconsistencies are not peculiar to our time, though they seem to be more pervasive today. But the left has been trying, for more than 200 years, to mitigate or eliminate punishments in general, and capital punishment in particular. What is peculiar to our time is the degree to which the views of the left have become laws and policies.

A long overdue backlash against those views has begun in some Western nations, of which the recent election results in the United States are just one symptom. How all this will end is by no means clear. Just as the past cannot be changed, so the future cannot be predicted with certainty.



Australia cuts Clinton Foundation funds

The federal government has not renewed any of its partnerships with the Clinton Foundation.

Labor and coalition governments over the past decade have paid more than $75 million to the anti-poverty foundation set up by the former first family of the United States, but questions have been raised about its accountability.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the coalition joint party room on Tuesday agreements entered into by the Rudd-Gillard government had not been renewed.



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