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Hometown: Xenia, OH
Member since: Tue Sep 19, 2006, 04:46 PM
Number of posts: 19,528

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No, your source was for #13 was citizen.org which used statistics allegedly from a government

source - the US International Trade Commission. But the numbers they used at the link you provided to reach their conclusions were not the numbers actually from the USITC.

They cite the US International Trade Commission as the source for their statistics but a cursory glance at that site shows shows that, at the very least, the figures for our 2013 trade deficit with Canada and Mexico are not accurately represented on the citizen.org table in the article. Here is the link to the ITC and the actual trade deficit figures for 2013: http://dataweb.usitc.gov/scripts/cy_m3_run.asp Here is the link to the Census showing trade with Mexico: https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c2010.html And here is the Census date for trade with Canada: https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c1220.html

... this is a strange conversation to have with a fellow Democrat.

Seeking to base a discussion of trade policy on facts is "unDemocratic"? Quite the contrary, I think that discussing issues without facts is republicans are quite good at.

You're talking in circles, and it seems like you're just making up figures.

If you check the US International Trade Commission and the Census Department, you will see that I am not the one "making up figures".

You have a good one, too.

For the first time in 5 years, jobs/economy drop from top concern in Pew poll.

For the first time in five years, as many Americans cite defending the U.S. against terrorism (76%) as a top policy priority as say that about strengthening the nation’s economy (75%). Since Barack Obama began his second term in January 2013, the economy has declined 11 points as a top priority, and improving the job situation has fallen 12 points (from 79% to 67%).

The survey finds little change over time in many of the public’s other priorities: 67% rate improving education as a top priority, 66% cite securing Social Security, 64% reducing health care costs and 61% securing Medicare.

However, the budget deficit – which surged in importance between 2009 and 2013 – has lost ground since then. Currently, 64% say reducing the budget deficit is a top priority; that is little changed from last year (63%), but down eight points since 2013.

At the same time, other priorities are now viewed as more important. Increasing percentages say improving the nation’s infrastructure (up 12 points since 2013), dealing with global warming (up 10 points) and dealing with the nation’s moral breakdown (eight points) should be top priorities. Immigration, for which there is no 2013 trend point, has grown as a priority since last year; 52% view it as a top priority, compared with 40% last January.


The top Democratic concerns: global warming, the environment, the problems of the poor and needy, education, science, lobbyists and infrastructure. The top republican concerns: strengthening the military, the budget deficit, moral breakdown, immigration, terrorism and the tax system.

The biggest increases in importance were: infrastructure, immigration, stronger military and global warming. The biggest declines in importance: jobs, the economy and the budget deficit.

Great report from the Center for American Progress on how other countries support workers and

their middle class.

Trying to Solve the Great Wage Slowdown

While wages and incomes have stagnated in the United States (as well as in Japan and large parts of Europe), they have not done so everywhere. In Canada, a broad measure of incomes has risen about 10 percent since 2000, even as it’s fallen here. In Australia, it’s up 30 percent. ... Though Australia and Canada obviously are not identical to the United States, it certainly seems worth asking what they’re doing differently.

For starters, they are doing a better job with mass education. They have near-universal preschool, and they both do more to get low-income students through college. In Australia, college is free. “Increasingly,” the report says, “a college education is similar to the high school education of the past — necessary for a prosperous life.” The efforts to create a more skilled work force in Canada and Australia (as well as Sweden and some other countries) have led to better jobs – and stronger pretax income growth.

Beyond education, these other countries do more to intervene in the free market on behalf of the middle class and the poor. Other countries, for instance, have more generous child care and family leave – and their share of women with jobs has surpassed the share in this country. Their tax policies demand relatively more of the affluent. Canada, in particular, appears to have stronger financial regulation.

One theme is that the countries where the middle class has fared better are countries where workers have more power. The share in labor unions is higher, much as unionized workers in this country make more than otherwise similar workers.


The report itself is at https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/report/2015/01/12/104266

The French far-right's first priority: eliminating freedom of movement within Europe

Q&A: Marine Le Pen on France and Islam

French President Francois Hollande has held a national security meeting in Paris after the deaths of 17 people in the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Al Jazeera spoke to Marine Le Pen, the far-right French politician and president of the National Front, about how her party views the issue of security in France.

Al Jazeera: There was a security meeting here in Paris. In your opinion what should the French government be doing now to ensure French people they are safe.

Le Pen: The first priority is the immediate removal of Schengen , because you can't have security and control in a country without having any powers over our borders. It's impossible to stop illegal arms trade.


The Schengen Agreement is the 30 year old agreement which enshrined freedom of movement throughout Europe. Conservatives here complain about 'open-borders liberals' though there is not much actual evidence of such creatures. This lament from Le Pen shows that the far-right in Europe has the same complaint about liberals.

Schengen is now a core part of EU law and all EU member states who have not already joined the Schengen Area are legally obliged to do so when technical requirements have been met. Several non-EU countries are also included in the area.


U.S. ranks poorly in commitment to fight global poverty

Each year the sharp minds at the foggy bottom think tank known as the Center for Global Development release a very cool and easy-to-use metric for evaluating to what extent wealthy countries are truly committed to fighting poverty and inequity in poor countries.

It’s dubbed the Commitment to Development Index and, despite its somewhat boring name, is quite fascinating and enlightening. This year’s authors, Owen Barder and Petra Krylová (both work in CGD’s European office), note that they measure countries not only by how much they spend per capita on foreign aid but also by poverty mitigation efforts within the context of trade, investment, migration, environment, security and technology.

Overall, the United States doesn’t measure up so well even though our leaders like to repeat that we spend more (in total) on foreign aid than any other country. True enough, but as this index shows that’s a bit of a red herring. As the report notes:

For the third year in a row, Denmark tops the Commitment to Development Index in 2014. Denmark is also the only country which is at or above the average on all seven components. The runners up are Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, and Norway. These five countries do well on the index because of their consistently high performance across all policies. … The United States is above average in trade, but below average in every other component.

Go to their site and explore their interactive graphic and data. The accompanying graphic above is just a screen grab of the tool from CGD’s website. Below is another way to show the rankings:


4 of the top 5 countries are Scandinavian countries. Not exactly a surprise but they do set a high standard for the rest of us. Of course, they also set a high standard for domestic income equality and standard of living.

Some say it would be a disaster (including 'most republicans'), a big deal or, Krugman's view,

too hyped by all sides.

If the TPP has enforceable labor and environmental standards, as outlined in Obama's negotiating guidelines, it could be a big deal. The only way to get those critical issues included in trade rules is international negotiation and agreement.

If it does not have these standards or if they can be stripped out by republican majorities in congress, Obama would do well not to submit a final agreement (assuming one is ever reached) to congress.

Polls show that the Democratic base supports 'fast track' for Obama while the republican base hugely opposes it.

Democratic support for both treaties is stronger than that of Republicans: 60% of Democrats see TTIP as a good thing compared with 44% of Republicans, while 59% of Democrats look favorably on TPP compared with 49% of Republicans.


Poll: conservative and moderate republicans oppose fast track (for the TPP) by a ratio of 85 percent or higher.

On the question of fast-track authority, 62 percent of respondent opposed the idea, with 43 percent “strongly” opposing it. Broken down by political affiliation, only Democrats that identify as “liberal” strongly favor the idea. Predictably, a strong Republican majority oppose giving the president such authority, with both conservative and moderates oppose it by a ratio of 85 percent or higher.


People protesting the reversal of a major foreign/economic policy. That must be a CIA plot.

Yanukovych had campaigned for president in 2010 on a platform of integration with Europe. Throughout 2013 his government steps to achieve that goal by November 29 when the Association Agreement with the EU was to be signed at a conference in Lithuania. As the date approached Yanukovych started to back pedal (although he also issued statements of a continued commitment to integration with Europe) under pressure from Russia.

To coordinate preparation of Ukraine for European integration, the Government of Ukraine adopted a Plan on Priority Measures for European Integration of Ukraine for 2013. Successful implementation of the plan was assumed to be one of the conditions necessary for signing of the Association Agreement, planned for 29 November 2013 during the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius.

In March 2013, Stefan Fuele, the EU's Commissioner for Enlargement, informed the European Parliament that while Ukrainian authorities had given their "unequivocal commitment" to address the issues raised by the EU, several "disturbing" recent incidents, including the annulment of Tymoshenko's lawyer Serhiy Vlasenko's mandate in the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament), could delay the signing of the agreements. However, the next day the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its optimism that they would still be signed in November.

On 7 April 2013 a decree by President Yanukovych freed Lutsenko from prison and exempted him, and his fellow Minister in the second Tymoshenko Government Heorhiy Filipchuk, from further punishment.

On 3 September 2013, at the opening session of the Verkhovna Rada after the summer recess, President Yanukovych urged his parliament to adopt laws so that Ukraine would meet the EU criteria and be able to sign the Association Agreement in November 2013.

On 18 September the Ukrainian cabinet unanimously approved the draft association agreement.

On 25 September 2013 Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Volodymyr Rybak stated that he was sure that his parliament would pass all the laws needed to fit the EU criteria for the Association Agreement since, except for the Communist Party of Ukraine, "the Verkhovna Rada has united around these bills". ... the EU's Commissioner for Enlargement, Stefan Fuele, stated he expected that the Verkhovna Rada would the next day consider and adopt the remaining bills necessary for the signing of the association agreement, planned for 29 November 2013.

The European Parliament's monitoring mission in Ukraine stated (also on 21 November 2013) that there was still a possibility to sign the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. The same day Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych stated "an alternative for reforms in Ukraine and an alternative for European integration do not exist...We are walking along this path and are not changing direction".

In the following days, Euromaidan, the biggest protests since the Orange Revolution, were being held in Kiev by opposition parties. On 26 November 2013 the Ukrainian Government admitted that Russia had asked it to delay signing the EU association agreement and that it "wanted better terms for the EU deal". "As soon as we reach a level that is comfortable for us, when it meets our interests, when we agree on normal terms, then we will be talking about signing," President Yanukovych stated in a televised interview. The same day Russian President Vladimir Putin called for an end to the criticism of the Ukrainian decision to delay the association agreement, and that the EU deal was bad for Russia's security interests. Putin was responding to statements by the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, that had stated they "strongly disapproved" of Russia's actions. On 26 November 2013 Prime Minister Azarov stated during a government meeting "I affirm with full authority that the negotiating process over the Association Agreement is continuing, and the work on moving our country closer to European standards is not stopping for a single day". President Yanukovych still attended the 28–29 November EU summit in Vilnius but the Association Agreement was not signed. During this summit the European Union and Ukraine initialed an Air Services Agreement. Also during the summit, President Yanukovych stated that Ukraine still wanted to sign the Association Agreement but that it needed substantial financial aid to compensate it for the threatened response from Russia, and he proposed starting three-way talks between Russia, Ukraine, and the EU.


People caring about a reversal of a major policy the government itself had spend months and years pursuing, is not evidence that the resulting protests must be the work of "outside agitators". (That's the term used against civil rights protesters in the US back in the day.)

Not if the labor and environment standards

follow the guidelines.

Specifically, in the TPP we are seeking:

Requirements to adhere to fundamental labor rights as recognized by the International Labor Organization, as well as acceptable conditions of work, subject to the same dispute settlement mechanism as other obligations in TPP;
Rules that will ensure that TPP countries do not waive or derogate from labor laws in a manner that affects trade or investment, including in free trade zones, and that they take initiatives to discourage trade in goods produced by forced labor;
Formation of a consultative mechanism to develop specific steps to address labor concerns when they arise; and
Establishment of a means for the public to raise concerns directly with TPP governments if they believe a TPP country is not meeting its labor commitments, and requirements that governments consider and respond to those concerns.

Specifically, in the TPP we are seeking:

Strong and enforceable environment obligations, subject to the same dispute settlement mechanism as other obligations in TPP;
Commitments to effectively enforce domestic environmental laws, including laws that implement multilateral environmental agreements, and commitments not to waive or derogate from the protections afforded in environmental laws for the purpose of encouraging trade or investment;
New provisions that will address wildlife trafficking, illegal logging, and illegal fishing practices; and
Establishment of a means for the public to raise concerns directly with TPP governments if they believe a TPP member is not meeting its environment commitments, and requirements that governments consider and respond to those concerns.


Obama still comes in #3 after FDR and Clinton in stock gains in his first 2,000 days.


As of right now, Obama ranks third behind top finisher Bill Clinton and runner-up Franklin Roosevelt in terms of stock gains, according to our calculations. After Obama, in order, it’s Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, George W. Bush and Richard Nixon. (Yes, Nixon barely made it into the club; he resigned 2,027 days into his presidency amid the Watergate scandal.)

Another surprise, also sure to rankle the right, is that the average stock-market gain under four post-Depression Democrats through each one’s 2,000th day in office has outpaced the average gain of the four Republicans in the era by a factor of nearly 4 to 1. Democratic gains have averaged 133%, while Republican market advances have had a mean of 33%.


Manufacturing jobs have been declining since the 1960's in the US and since the 1970's in every

other developed country. Since the 1960's the only period of increase in manufacturing employment was during the Clinton administration after NAFTA. They had declined steadily for 30 years before Clinton and for 10 years afterwards, just increasing again starting in 2011. To blame a 50-year decline on NAFTA seems to be searching for a boogeyman.

FDR actually proposed an International Trading Organization (ITO) in 1944 (along with the IMF and World Bank) but by the time negotiations were completed republicans controlled congress and would not ratify US participation in the ITO so it died. Who knows if the ITO would have become a reality if FDR had not died in office.

GATT was what created in the FDR/Truman era to promote multilateral control of trade. It was meant to be temporary until the ITO came into force but became permanent when the ITO was rejected by republicans. FDR did not want to see a return to the high tariffs and limited trade of the republican administrations that preceded him. Truman shared his commitment.

FDR created a strong economy and middle class not by going after foreigners and trading with them, but by going after our own 1%. He raised taxes on them, empowered unions, created and strengthened the safety net and regulated the way that banks and corporations did business. He did not blame other countries for our problems. In fact, he increased trade soon after taking office then set up the beginnings of the international trading system that exists today.
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