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“Outsourcing Of Jobs”: Scott Walker’s Secret Love For Red China

Just before the 2012 presidential election, a prominent Republican governor appeared on Chinese state television wearing a lapel pin on his dark blazer that depicted that country’s hammer-and-sickle flag.

In an interview, he brushed off his party’s concerns about trade with China, downplayed citizens’ worries about outsourcing, and called the country’s trade practices “good and fair.”

That governor was Scott Walker—the same governor who, on Tuesday, confused just about everyone by saying Obama should make the Chinese president cancel his upcoming state visit. Same guy.

Walker has a record as being extraordinarily comfortable with China and its leaders, even going so far as to praise the country’s trade practices on government TV.

China and international trade issues have become central to the 2016 presidential campaign, especially given that the country’s economic struggles precipitated Monday’s stock market dive. As he’s done with immigration, Walker fast moved to be the furthest right on China, releasing a statement calling for Obama to cancel Chinese president Xi Jinping’s upcoming state visit.

“Given China’s massive cyberattacks against America, its militarization of the South China Sea, continued state interference with its economy, and persistent persecution of Christians and human rights activists, President Obama needs to cancel the state visit,” Walker said in the statement.

But up until yesterday, concerns about Chinese currency manipulation and human rights violations seemed far from Walker’s mind. (Of note: human rights leaders also called for Obama to cancel Xi’s visit.)  Throughout his governorship, Walker adopted rhetoric and policies that sought to build bridges and deepen relationships between China and Wisconsin—even though, according to one analysis, the Badger State lost more than 600,000 jobs during his tenure because of the growing Chinese trade deficit and the country’s currency manipulation. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Walker has criticized Xi Jinping’s upcoming state visit for being mere “pomp and circumstance.” But pomp and circumstance didn’t bother him in 2011, when he attended an official dinner in Chicago for then-Chinese president Hu Jintao. The city’s mayor at the time, Richard Daley, hosted the dinner on Jan. 21, 2011—a little more than a week before Walker’s inauguration. Valerie Jarrett, Sen. Mark Kirk, and Sen. Dick Durbin also attended, according to a press release from the city. Walker and the other guests savored “a traditional Midwestern menu with Asian accents,” and listened to Daley discuss his efforts to promote the study of Chinese language and culture in city public schools.

Over the course of his governorship, Walker didn’t exactly try to put daylight between the Badger State and China. Shortly before the 2012 presidential election, Walker made an appearance on CCTV—a Chinese state television broadcaster—sporting a lapel pin that depicted the American and Chinese flags side by side, waving over Wisconsin (Wisconsin blogger Jud Lounsbury flagged the video on YouTube in 2013).

The conversation was pegged to the criticism that the Republican presidential ticket had leveled at China’s trade practices.

“Despite all the criticism on China from the Romney/Ryan campaign, Gov. Walker has been an advocate of bringing more Chinese investment to his state and increasing trade with China,” said the host, introducing the segment by contrasting him with fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan.

Walker said state leaders needed to communicate with Chinese investors about the benefits of trade with Wisconsin.

“[I]t’s our responsibility to show them good investments that will ultimately help put people to work in our state, that will provide a return on investment to those Chinese investors,” Walker said. “It’s not only good for our state, good for our employees, good for the investors, but also good for the people of China.”

He also called the trade status quo “good and fair.”

“The best way for us to show that there’s a good and fair trading system is to do what we’re doing right here. We’re living!” Walker said. “We’re not just talking about — we’re living it this week, we’re putting in place something that’s a mutually beneficial scenario, and I think that’s what most people and most voters ultimately want out of their leaders.”

And he said Wisconsin’s trade with China didn’t result in outsourcing.

“You look at that almost $1.4 billion worth of exports from Wisconsin to China—that’s not exporting jobs, that’s exporting products,” he said. “That’s a win-win.”

Walker backed up that rhetoric with action. A few months after appearing on Chinese state TV, he led a trade mission to China that included representatives from a variety of companies, as well as from the now-troubled Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the state government. They visited Beijing, Shanghai, and Harbin, according to a press release.

While he was there, Walker attended the U.S.-China Governors Forum. Terry Branstad, the Republican governor of Iowa, led the American governors’ delegation there.Branstad took those two to visit Xi during the trip, according to the Des Moines Register. The paper noted that Xi rarely meets visiting foreign dignitaries, and that Walker benefited from Branstad’s ability to make the introduction.

Walker also opened a Wisconsin/China trade center in Shanghai on the trip.

“This trade center strengthens our relationship with China and provides Wisconsin businesses the resources and assistance to pursue export opportunities in this growing market,” he said, according to a press release. “Through the years, Wisconsin has built a strong trade relationship with China, and the opening of the Wisconsin Center China will help Wisconsin businesses continue to strengthen our trade relationships and grow export opportunities.”

(Note: Nothing on persecution of Christians or human rights abuses.)

Back home in Wisconsin, concerns about China got him in a bit of trouble. Walker’s 2013-2015 biennial budget proposal included a provision that would have foreign individuals and corporations own unlimited amounts of land in the state, even if they didn’t live there.

“[T]here’s no question that this would allow the Chinese government to buy a big chunk of land in northwest Wisconsin if it wanted to,” said then Republican state Sen. Dale Schultz at the time, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Republicans yanked that provision from the budget after it drew outrage.

But that didn’t constrain the governor’s energy for improving relations with China. On his trade trip, he oversaw the finalization of a handful of trade deals, including one in which one of the country’s biggest medicine companies promised it would only sell ginseng in its stores if it was from Wisconsin. According to WBNS-10TV, the Chinese prize Wisconsin ginseng, but the market is riddled with counterfeit products that claiming to be from Wisconsin but aren’t. Walker estimated the deal could be worth up to $200 million to businesses in the state.

Since then, Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch has lavishly praised the state’s relationship with China. On Dec. 8, 2014, her office put out a press release touting the ginseng deal and saying she and Walker were committed to “diplomatic relationships that will position Wisconsin to benefit from Asia’s rise.”

The New York Times reported in July that Walker “met or [spoke] with” Xi Jinpeng at some point in the last few months, as well as other world leaders.

All this is to say that Walker helmed energetic efforts to improve Wisconsin’s trade relationship with China. But he doesn’t appear to have done much to check the nation’s currency manipulation and unfair trade practices.

Robert Scott, the director of trade and manufacturing policy research at the Economic Policy Institute—a labor-affiliated think tank—said Walker could have gone much further in pushing back against China. Scott said Walker could have filed an unfair trade practices complaint with the World Trade Organization or pressured the Treasury to do more about China’s currency manipulation.

“I’ve heard no efforts from the governor or anyone else on that front, until last week,” Scott said.

A spokesperson for the Wisconsin governor’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on if Walker had (or could have) pursued any of those remedies.

Scott added that canceling Xi’s state visit “could cause China to overreact.”

“The Chinese are very sensitive to saving face,” he said, “and I think if you were just to insult the Chinese president, just for the sake of insulting him, I don’t think it would be useful in improving the relationship.”

“I think it could cause China to dig in his heels,” he added.

And, Scott noted, that could be particularly tough on Wisconsin. Scott’s research indicates that Wisconsin would stand to benefit more than any other state if China and other countries stopped manipulating their currencies because of the state’s sizable durable goods industry.

Scott’s research also tracks how many jobs individual states lose each year because of outsourcing. He estimates that, thus far in Walker’s governorship, Wisconsin has netted 600,000 lost jobs because of outsourcing to China.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, August 26, 2015

August 26, 2015 Posted by | China, Scott Walker | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Dick Cheney Of Israel: It’s What Netanyahu Is Doing To Israel Now

Three points about Obama’s recent speeches on the Arab world and the Middle East — the one at the State Department, and the one today at AIPAC. Jeffrey Goldberghas been responding to these in detail.

1) It’s complicated. We should no longer be surprised that a major Obama speech on an important topic is characterized mainly by its embrace of complexity.  Here’s why this matters:

Traditionally the role of a Presidential speech is to say, in bald terms, which side of an issue the Administration is coming down on. Are we going to war, or not? Is the president going to sign a bill, or veto it? People outside the government underestimate how important big presidential speeches are in resolving policy arguments and deciding what an administration’s approach will be.

Obama’s big speeches have been unusual, because the side they come down on is that of complexity. In his classic Philadelphia “race in America” speech: the recognition that every part of our racial mix has its insecurities and blind spots. In his Nobel prize address: that military force is not the answer but is an answer. In his West Point speech a year and a half ago: that the U.S. can’t stay in Afghanistan forever but should stay for a while. You can apply this analysis to almost every major address.

Including these latest speeches. He argued that the United States has “interests” in the Middle East — oil, stability, anti-terrorism — and it also has ideals. So it will try harder to advance its ideals, without pretending it has no (often contradictory) interests. He presented Israel-Palestine in this same perspective. As a meta-point, he said that Israel-Palestine is only part of the larger Arab-world evolution, but is a crucial part. On the merits, he emphasized that Israel has to be secure, that Hamas must accept that reality, that Israel must be able to defend itself — but that it cannot stand pat, wait too long to strike a deal, or forever occupy the West Bank.

My point here is about Obama rather than about the Middle East. From some politicians, for instance those otherwise dissimilar Georgians Jimmy Carter and Newt Gingrich, a collection of “complex” ideas often comes across as just a list. Obama, most of the time, has pulled off the trick of making his balance-of-contradictions seem a policy in itself. Rather than seeming just “contradictory” or “indecisive.” This is unusual enough that it’s worth noting. (And for another time: the vulnerabilities this approach creates.)

2) Israel’s Cheney. By “a Cheney” I refer to the vice presidential version of Dick Cheney, who (in my view) mistook short-term intransigence for long-term strategic wisdom, seemed blind and tone-deaf to the “moral” and “soft power” components of influence, profited from a polarized and fearful political climate, and attempted to command rather than earn support from allies and potential adversaries.

That was bad for the U.S. when Cheney was around. It’s what Netanyahu is doing to Israel now, and Israel has less margin for strategic error than America does.

Right after Obama made his big speech, it was welcomed in most of the world and by most major U.S. Jewish organizations. The immediate critics were Mitt “throw Israel under the bus” Romney, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee, and Binyamin Netanyahu. Explain to me the universe in which this is a wise strategic choice for a nation highly dependent on stable relations with the United States — and on ultimately making an agreement in the region that allows it to survive as a Jewish democratic state.

Think of this contrast: when China’s Hu Jintao came to Washington for a state visit, each of the countries had profound disagreements with the other. (Chinese leaders hate the U.S. policy of continued arms sales to Taiwan, much more so than Netanyahu could sanely disagree with any part of Obama’s speech.) Neither China nor America is remotely as dependent on the other as Israel is on the United States. Yet Obama and Hu were careful to be as respectful as possible, especially in public, while addressing the disagreements. High-handed and openly contemptuous behavior like Netanyahu’s would have seemed hostile and idiotic from either side. As it is from him.

The real service Netanyahu may have done is allowing easier U.S. discussion of the difference between Israel’s long-term interests and his own.

3) God bless this speech. President Obama showed that it is possible to end a speech with … a real ending! The usual one might have sounded odd in a speech largely addressed to the Islamic world. So the release text of his speech concluded in this admirable way:

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.”

Those words must guide our response to the change that is transforming the Middle East and North Africa — words which tell us that repression will fail, that tyrants will fall, and that every man and woman is endowed with certain inalienable rights. It will not be easy. There is no straight line to progress, and hardship always accompanies a season of hope. But the United States of America was founded on the belief that people should govern themselves. Now, we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights, knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more peaceful, more stable, and more just.

By: James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic, May 22, 2011

May 23, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Foreign Governments, Foreign Policy, Freedom, GOP, Government, Ideology, Middle East, National Security, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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