Archive

June 29th, 2016

What Brexit means to US? Another Trumpian victory

    Many people see striking similarities between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Great Britain's vote to leave the European Union. One of those people is Donald Trump.

    The presumptive Republican presidential nominee just happened to arrive in Scotland to reopen a golf resort as the news of the "Brexit," or "British exit" vote, came in. Unsurprisingly he took him no time at all to make the story all about himself.

    "They took back control of their country," said Trump when asked about the British vote. "It's a great thing."

    "People are angry, all over the world, they're angry," he said. "They're angry over borders, they're angry over people coming into the country and taking over. Nobody even knows who they are. They're angry about many, many things."

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Trump, Clinton push opposing economic plans

    The contempt that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump express for each other will continue to play out in vitriolic sound bites. But their profound differences on what to do about the economy and the struggling middle class are far more important.

    "This election will be won by whichever candidate convinces middle-class voters they are better for their jobs and future prospects," says Stephen Moore, a Heritage Foundation economist and Trump adviser.

    "This is about whether economic forces hollow out the middle class or whether those forces strengthen the middle class, creating jobs and higher wages," says Gene Sperling, a leading economic official under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and an adviser to Hillary Clinton.

    As the economy has recovered from the economic crisis, the unemployment rate has shrunk to less than half of what it was eight years ago and wages have started to rise. But medium average family income, in real dollars, is less than it was 10 years ago.

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The shock that will reverberate beyond Britain

    The British vote to leave the European Union may come to be seen as a tipping point in global politics, perhaps more consequential than anything since the fall of the Berlin Wall. It may mark the moment when Europe comes face to face with its own constitutional dysfunction, when the idea of the "West" finally ceases to be plausible and when the United States is confirmed in its sense that its interests lie more in Asia than in its traditional Atlantic sphere of influence.

    The shock of the referendum will be felt initially in Britain. In politics, Prime Minister David Cameron has already announced he will be going, but in an agonizingly slow way. The business of replacing him requires a two-stage vote, one by Conservative members of Parliament and the next by rank-and-file members of the Conservative Party; this process will drag into the fall. In the meantime, the country will be led through its crisis by a lame duck.

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The myth that austerity will stimulate growth

    Greg Mankiw, a Harvard economist and a respected voice in economic policy-making, recently wrote a New York Times article discussing five possible explanations for slow growth in rich countries. The final possibility he discusses is one that I haven't seen much in recent years -- the notion that government deficits slow economic growth.

    Five years ago, it was common to hear claims that too much government borrowing would hurt growth -- an idea known as expansionary austerity. Much of the research cited by the proponents of this theory was done by scholars at the International Monetary Fund. But during the past few years, there have been quite a few questions about the IMF's past cheerleading for belt-tightening.

    The IMF's job is to lend to countries in distress. But it also tries to make its loans conditional on countries implementing policy reforms to fix the problems that got the country into a crisis in the first place. For a long time, it viewed government deficits as a major source of trouble. After episodes like the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the IMF would press borrowers to cut government spending.

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New Post-ABC poll: Trump's June has been an utter disaster in every way

    When last month's Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton 46 percent to 44 percent among registered voters, it was the third poll in a week to show the presumptive GOP nominee in a surprising lead. Many Democrats began to worry (or at least worry more openly) about the Clinton campaign. Now they can breathe a little easier: The June Post-ABC poll, out Sunday morning, shows Clinton leading 51 percent to 39 percent, a 14 point swing.

    Just about everything that could have gone right for Clinton in the past month has gone right. It's bad enough for the Trump campaign that he remains unable to improve his image: 70 percent of Americans are anxious about the prospect of a Trump administration, unchanged from six months ago. 64 percent call Trump "not qualified" for the presidency, up six points from May.

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In Clinton's vice presidential search, Tim Kaine is right at the top

    If Hillary Clinton had to pick her running mate today, I think she'd pick Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia.

    Here's why.

    The defining trait of Clinton's political career is caution. She doesn't ever leap before she looks - and looks and looks. Part of this is a function of the fact that Clinton doesn't have great natural political instincts - which she has repeatedly acknowledged during this campaign. It's also the result of being enemy No. 1 (or, at worst, No. 2) for Republicans for most of the past two-plus decades. You'd probably be pretty wary of what you said and did if you had been at the center of that storm since 1992.

    Now, consider the state of the presidential race from Clinton's perspective. Her near-certain opponent (Donald Trump, you may have heard of him) is viewed unfavorably by 7 in 10 voters, had $1.3 million in his campaign account at the end of May and continues to war with a not-insignificant bloc within his own party.

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For the GOP, a pickle of a platform

    How do you write a platform for a party whose candidate's positions span the unfortunate gamut from nonexistent to offensive to flatly at odds with those of the party?

    Such is the thankless task consigned this year to Sen. John Barrasso. The Wyoming Republican is a Yale-trained orthopedist with a voracious appetite for history (he's currently immersed in a Ulysses S. Grant biography) and a political junkie's love of game and country (Barrasso hasn't missed an inauguration since his father, a Pennsylvania cement finisher, took him to John F. Kennedy's).

     Barrasso exhibits a wonk's inclination for policy specifics (he just hosted surgeon and writer Atul Gawande to speak to fellow senators on health care) that puts him more in the "sweat the details" spirit of Hillary Clinton than the details-shmetails approach of Donald Trump.

    Barrasso is, in short, the anti-Trump. Not in the sense of being opposed to the nominee -- he isn't, although, like most of his GOP Senate colleagues, he scarcely exudes enthusiasm for Trump.

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Can anyone save the Republican Party?

    Donald Trump's stranglehold on the Republican Party as it plunges headlong toward its national convention in mid-July imperils the party's very survival 162 years after its emergence from the withered skeleton of the Whig Party.

    The Grand Old Party was born in 1854 in the crucible of an approaching civil war between the Northern and Southern states over the right of secession from the Union and the institution of slavery. By comparison, the bone of contention now is trivial. It grows out of one egomaniacal outsider's decision to impose his ambition and will on a political party in which he previously showed only a modicum of interest.

    No great or imperative issue confronting the nation is at stake now, igniting the public's passions. Instead, there is a general mood of disaffection with the existing major parties' inability or unwillingness to engage in bipartisan compromise on a range of matters before the national legislature.

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Why China could dominate the 'internet of vehicles'

    A few weeks ago, Apple's Tim Cook was all smiles as he stepped into a sedan operated by Didi Chuxing. Apple had just invested $1 billion in the ridesharing company, and Cook was no doubt feeling satisfied. But he was probably feeling another emotion too: relief at getting a piece of China's "internet of vehicles" before it's too late.

    That phrase might be new, but the idea isn't. Automakers and tech companies have long dreamed of building internet-connected cars that can entertain passengers, coordinate with other vehicles, navigate themselves and, eventually, drive autonomously. Platforms such as Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto are starting to make the concept a reality.

    But China is where the future of this technology will likely be charted. And in trying to compete there, foreign companies are facing a stark choice: Partner up or be left behind.

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Keep calm and - what the hell just happened?

    Dang it, Britain, we thought you had things under control.

    We were supposed to be the place where everything was on fire. You were supposed to keep calm and carry on. Were all of those posters a lie?

    Torching the place for literally no reason other than to send a message about voter anger, we thought, was our special prerogative. In the Jane Austen novel of international life, we were supposed to be Marianne, the one with all the feelings. You were supposed to be Elinor, the sensible one.

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