Friday, November 5, 2010

U.S. economic solutions won’t be found in slogans

Now the hard part. Republicans boasting of economic solutions where President Obama failed must convert rousing campaign slogans to workable ideas. Cutting the size of the federal government and drastically rolling back spending will be much tougher than how corporate patrons of Republicans make it sound.

Here's a $40 billion-a-year item to consider: the cost of the Afghanistan war. More than $361 billion has been spent there in nine years. An exit poll of voters Tuesday found 54 percent oppose the war.

Nope. Cutting that would never do. Too many weapons, aerospace, security and military-supplies industries benefit from the war.

How about ending tax breaks for corporate profits made overseas? Or imposing tax penalties on corporations that outsource hundreds of thousands of jobs overseas, since this is a major contributor to U.S. unemployment? That's dreaming. No Republican would dare penalize U.S. Chamber of Commerce members.

Would Republicans favor a crash program to rebuild schools, bridges, dams, railroads, waterworks and roads at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars—but thereby putting millions of jobless back to work and restoring domestic facilities? Not likely. The GOP's rigid credo on spending disregards costs vs. benefits such as the bailouts for automakers that actually will yield a profit for the U.S. government while saving industries and jobs.

A war, tax breaks for overseas profits, tax shelters for business, laying off workers to offshore jobs—these are substantial elements of national economic problems, far more significant than declaring war on the departments of Education and Energy that are more ideological nuisances to conservatives than economic burdens.

Instead of adopting simple-minded Tea Party dictates, Republicans and the Obama administration must worry about the Chinese economic juggernaut, whose currency is undervalued by 40 percent and whose cheaply made goods threaten U.S. jobs and products.

Partly because of China's cheaper labor, a California solar-energy-cell producer, for example, is closing one of its two plants and laying off 150 workers. A tariff on such foreign products would restore trade fairness.

If Americans want to avoid being eclipsed in technological advances by China and India, Washington also must invest more, not less, in advanced science research, as it did in the space program.

So far, threats to limit Obama to one term and showing no compromise in legislation suggest Republicans for the next two years will be focused on serving the party platform, not the real needs of a nation in distress.

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