Give Obama Trade Promotion Authority or Leave the U.S. Behind

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There is no more important piece of legislation this year than Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which “fast tracks” President Obama the freedom to negotiate the largest free trade zone in the history of the world. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) comprises 12 nations and encompasses one third of the world GDP. Both Congressional Democrats and House Republicans need to stop floundering around and grant the President the ability to bring us home the bacon.

Since 2009, the TPP has been in negotiation between incredibly diverse nations and economies. From the commercial hubs of Singapore and Japan to the industrializing nation of Vietnam, to the three nations comprising NAFTA, TPP encapsulates a wide variety in export abilities, potential capital, and industries. There is, however, one notable Pacific country noticeably absent from these negotiations: China. But more on that later.

While unions are bullying democrats in Congress into thinking TPP and free trade are destroying the American economy, the reverse could not be more true. The U.S. exported $622.5 billion of manufactured products to TPP countries in 2013, facing high tariffs such as 27% for auto parts entering Vietnam. 20% of American farmers’ incomes are derived from agricultural exports ($58 billion to TPP countries), again facing tariffs such as a 40% poultry tariff to enter Malaysia. When tariffs are eliminated, goods become cheaper for consumers in all nations, businesses expand their markets, and more jobs can are created as innovation and competition flourish.

Companies headquartered in TPP countries have already invested $660 billion in the U.S. and employed 1.6 million Americans. Nike alone plans to create an additional 10,000 jobs in the U.S. if TPP is implemented. The U.S. government estimates TPP would add $223 billion per year to the global economy by 2025.

Will some jobs be consolidated, or even outright eliminated when these markets become free and more efficient? Yes. However, the net gains of free trade–new jobs, higher wages, and more businesses–far outweighs these temporary setbacks.

Unions are on their last breath trying to protect inefficient and outdated basic manufacturing plants, whose goods can be made in other countries for far cheaper. The U.S. does have a responsibility to help provide training for any workers who happen to be laid off due to TPP as our economy continues to modernize in the 21st century. Nonetheless, looking backwards 50 years and cheering for stagnation in our economy can only save a few dying jobs today–at the expense of innovation, creativity, and economic expansion tomorrow.

Protectionism might be the popular political decision for a member of Congress seeking just another re-election, but that elected official would be neglecting his or her duty to promote the general welfare of this nation, by ensuring bright opportunities tomorrow for generations to come through TPP.

Contrary to the ranting of isolationists on the left and Obama skeptics on the right, TPP does not cut out Congress from any trade deals. Instead, it creates a Congressional partnership with the Executive, allowing Congress to outlay its goals while also expediting the negotiation and implementation processes for TPP. The reason fast track is necessary is to signal to the other 11 nations that the U.S. is serious about committing to a fair deal regarding free trade. This deal is so important that even I, a conservative, know President Obama must have expedited and broader authority if we are to expand the economic potential of this country.

Liberals have stirred up a misguided controversy, arguing that TPP is terrible for labor standards. Again, they are wrong. The U.S. is negotiating for strong labor provisions like collective bargaining, discouraging forced labor, and establishing real mechanisms to monitor labor concerns. Without TPP, developing nations practicing abysmal labor standards will simply continue with their status quo. It is irresponsible to not give President Obama the political power to ensure labor standards are raised in these countries.

If those reasons still have not convinced you than this last point should: China. If we don’t credibly commit to TPP, our absence will undoubtedly be filled by China. Imagine China opening it’s borders to a third of the world economy and reaping the benefits of an economic boom, while the U.S. is left in the dust–completely shut out from the jobs created, the FDI invested, and the technology shared. If the U.S. doesn’t seize this moment, China surely will.

Congress needs to pass fast track so that President Obama can achieve Congress’ own goals in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Hundreds of billions of dollars will be added to the world economy. FDI will be pumped into the Pacific from U.S. companies as well as invested from foreign companies into the U.S. Jobs will be created, consumer prices will drop, and labor standards and standard of living will all increase. It’s just common sense. That’s why President Obama is currently teaming up with Republicans to get this done.

To the Democrats who have been bullied by the false propaganda of unions, and to the Republicans who are so paranoid about the President that they are currently turning their back on the country just to snub him, stop being cowards. Your constituents deserve better than special interest handouts to a few dying union factories, or appeasing a tiny sliver of conservative voters who still believe President Obama was born in Kenya. The American people are desperately looking for our economy to move past stagnation, and they deserve better.

For the sake of our economy and future generations of Americans, cut the games and pass Trade Promotion Authority now!

Violence is Never the Answer

Suspect Dies Baltimore

I feel disheartened, dismayed, and heartbroken today. It’s like a punch in the stomach to see thousands of people looting, attacking police officers, and destroying what many generations of Americans have worked hard to create, as has happened in Baltimore this week. This isn’t supposed to happen in America.

And yet, sadly, tense situations have degenerated into anarchic riots throughout our history. From the race riots of the 1960s, to Rodney King, and now to Ferguson and Baltimore, Americans have resorted to violence in response to specific instances of purported injustice. Most frighteningly, this seems to be happening more frequently, and I only fear that the media attention given to these riots will encourage more violent episodes in the future.

I am not suggesting that injustice has been completely eliminated from American society. To say so would be naïve to the realities of millions of Americans, particularly that of minority groups. Yes, it was wrong for the police to beat Rodney King. Yes, the deaths of Eric Garner and Freddie Gray should never have occurred. There are also more questionable cases, such as Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, in which the popular narrative does not necessarily align with the inconclusive and contradictory evidence.

But justice requires that we separate the initial incident from the public response and analyze each in a separate light. Otherwise, we draw ourselves into a trap of projecting singular incidents as the norm in an entire city or for an entire group of people, which is not a fair or accurate characterization of any situation.

For this reason, I am going to focus solely on the public responses to the incidents. The instances of alleged injustice have been exhaustively covered by all media outlets, and rehashing the specifics of each case does nothing to help the victims or to advance a constructive dialogue. On the other hand, I feel it is essential to cover this response of rioting because of the frequency in which people have reverted to such base and undignified behavior.

To clarify, the majority of the people in these crowds are peaceful protestors who have been mischaracterized by the actions of a few. For this reason, I am not referring to any person individually, but rather the behavior of vandalizing, looting, and attacking police officers in response to injustice.

From both an ethical and strategic standpoint, violent rioting is never the right response. Violence in a community hurts everyone, either physically, emotionally, economically, or all of the above. It is not equivalent to justice, nor does it advance achievable solutions to the roots of the alleged injustices. And it continues to be a black mark, a burden that all of us must carry.

First, violent riots are unethical because they fail to respect justice, and instead promulgate a second wrong which is equally as bad as the first. Justice is inherently a peaceful concept, in which those responsible for harm are punished, and the victims of wrongs are compensated accordingly. At a societal level, justice is not decided at the whims of the adrenaline-filled masses, but rather in a rational setting which allows both sides to be heard and to make the best argument possible. Justice must also be based upon a clearly delineated and known set of standards, namely laws, and punishments must be assigned from a consistent basis to all individuals. Throughout history, a court system has consistently produced the most fair and just outcomes to alleged wrongs.

This, of course, raises the question of whether justice is served when a court gets a decision wrong. By definition, justice would not be served because someone would be wrongly convicted or erroneously forgiven for their wrongs. However, especially in the U.S., it is nearly impossible to definitely say that a court rendered the wrong verdict because it is our fellow American citizens who weigh the evidence with the respective legal codes; the public, in turn, only hears a synopsis of the proceedings through the media.

Regardless of the court system’s decision, riots such as those in Baltimore are not indicative of justice, but of a desire for vengeance. Those who riot in the name of justice essentially hold that because some harm was done, it is permissible to rob stores, to destroy property, and to physically hurt or perhaps endanger other people. But just because some wrong was committed does not mean that these harmful acts, which we have morally and legally defined as “wrong,” suddenly become right. It is akin to the erroneous conception that “two wrongs make a right,” when in reality both acts individually are still morally wrong. If we sacrifice our principles in the name of justice, we in fact lose our moral standing to even define the rights and wrongs which constitute justice.

What do we have in lieu of justice? Destruction of millions of dollars in property. Dozens of people injured in hospitals, some critically. Families huddled in their homes in fear, too frightened to even step foot outside. We have an entire community looking like a warzone rather than an American city.

How can any of these effects possibly bring justice to someone who was wrongly killed? Those who suffer the most are not people who have done anything wrong, but business owners in the community, who see their stores looted and burned down for no reason. While some might consider violence some form of vigilante justice, once begun, violence cannot be contained, and in these cases, it typically envelops those who have not committed any crime at all.

To that end, violence does little strategically to productively address the wrongs perpetrated. What it does, however, is conjure up stronger feelings of anger, resentment, loathing, and defensiveness on both sides of the issue. The police and those who have purportedly done wrong become more indignant and defensive about their actions, and they feel targeted and disrespected by an entire community. On the other side, those leading the riots feel a double insult when the police utilize force to try and contain the violence and protect property.

In fact, once the fires are lit and the violence begins, the entire nation becomes polarized and drawn into the conflict on one side or the other. Millions of citizens who ordinarily couldn’t care less about the alleged wrong become so perturbed by the violence that they defensively take the side of the police trying to preserve order. Across the world, the great democracy of the U.S., the champion of the rule of law, is reduced to images of lawlessness and uncontrollable anarchy. In this way, an entire community full of many different people is ridiculed as nothing more than lawless criminals obscuring the issue which even started the entire conflict.

So what do we do in response to these acts of violence? We, as a nation, must better draw a distinction between those who riot and those who protest peacefully. Too often, as we see the looting and rioting on TV, we assume that everyone in that crowd is partaking in those morally reprehensible acts. For this reason, those who are wronged feel that their best way to get attention is to riot. Peaceful protest has long been one of the most celebrated ways of campaigning for justice in the history of this great nation, yet it has become blurred behind the fires of riots.

I also contend that we need our leaders to be more active in condemning violence in favor of peace. It’s not enough for President Obama to sit securely in the White House and say the rioting is not acceptable. He and other leaders of all levels must travel to the scenes in person, speak to the crowd, and convince them that they can get the nation’s attention without causing irreparable harm and devastation to an entire community.

Will this idea work? Admittedly, I’m not sure, but I know that we need to do something to stem the rising tide of violence in the country. We need this change to be cultural, for more people to accept that violence is morally wrong. And if national leaders or anyone else can get across this message, then it is their duty to do so in any way possible.

As a nation, let us condemn this violence for the wrong that it is, and promote true justice for all Americans.

This article presents the views of author Mike McVea, not necessarily those of the Georgetown University College Republicans or GUCR Board. This piece belongs solely to Mr. McVea and cannot be reproduced in any way without his approval. For more GUCR updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Republicans Care About the Environment, Too

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In honor of Earth Day 2015, I think it’s important to point out that being a conservative does not mean being anti-environmentalism. Back in November of 2014 after Republicans dominated the congressional midterms, The Hill reported that a Republican-led Senate spelled doom for the environment. Among the reasons given for this impending anti-environment disaster were the Republicans’ support of the Keystone XL Pipeline and their repeated ‘attacks’ on the Environmental Protection Agency.

Conservatism, and more broadly the Republican Party, does not inherently imply an anti-environmental position. In regards to the Keystone XL, even Republicans (granted, of a younger generation) will admit that it increases the risk of a potential environmental disaster in the form of an oil spill, invasiveness of a natural environment, etc. Those are irrefutable facts that are cause for concern.

However, both Republican and Democratic supporters of the pipeline are not blind to these possibilities, as much as environmental activists would love to think they are. The Keystone XL Pipeline is a fairly safe project, it would be carefully constructed, and would not be some ‘extra-lethal’ source of environmental damage, as Sen. Barbara Boxer argued it would. The official environmental impact statement published by the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs states that, “climate conditions during the construction period would not differ substantially from current conditions…climate changes are anticipated to occur regardless of any potential effects from the proposed Project” (ES-17).

The real problem is that neither party is proposing environmental alternatives in legislation that can be funded and passed in a bipartisan fashion. There are plenty of different options for energy that are being developed right now, but until then, the country cannot afford to postpone energy projects that will keep the country going. In the same formula that Democrats used to condemn Republican opposition to Obamacare: If Democrats can propose something better, then projects like the Keystone Pipeline will not have to be voted on in the first place. At this point it should be mentioned that 9 Democrats voted for the Keystone Pipeline in January 2015 when it was approved; it was not just Republicans.

Secondly, environmentalists often criticize the GOP for demanding reforms of the EPA. Primarily, these reforms would be intended to lessen the amount of power the EPA currently has. Returning to facts, the EPA does have too much power. It essentially writes policy and even had its authority curbed by the Supreme Court last summer because it was egregiously overreaching in its authority. Younger Republicans would agree that the EPA should have some influence in regulating greenhouse emissions and ensuring that we can all breathe in ten years. But the Republican attack on the EPA is not an attack on the environment, it is a call to implement the federal government’s checks and balances system with an agency that seems to think it can do whatever it wants. Maybe the EPA has been spending too much time with President Obama.

There are Republicans who are interested in global warming and preventing the collapse of our environment. The up and coming generation of Republicans are interested in finding creative solutions to fixing the damage already done, or at least trying to mitigate its effects. However, no one can expect the country to stop its traditional energy policies so that we can wait for more sustainable ideas to be developed, drafted into reasonable legislation that can be funded, and then proposed to Congress. Likewise, no one can expect a federal agency’s blatant disregard for the limits of its own authority to be ignored, as is the case with the EPA. Don’t politicize this Earth Day, because the next generation of Republicans and Democrats both are eager to address environmental concerns and protect the natural world around us.

This article presents the views of author Cole Horton, not necessarily those of the Georgetown University College Republicans or GUCR Board. This piece belongs solely to Mr. Horton and cannot be reproduced in any way without his approval. For more GUCR updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.