Reason for a New Age

Romney 5-59 – Part 2

Posted by publius2point0 on 2012/10/25


Trade Policy

Trade Promotion Authority

Starting roughly a century ago, the legislature began to cede the creation of trade agreements to the executive branch as it was found that attempting to have a foreign nation negotiate with several hundred people lead to massive, complex, and silly trade agreements. It’s also been found that the prospect of having to meet the demands of hundreds of senators and congressmen discourages other nations from even entering into negotiations with us. It made more sense for the Executive branch to negotiate the deal and for the legislature to either approve it whole or not at all, with no ability to modify the agreement.

While there does not appear to be a strong argument against Trade Promotion Authority, as outlined above, the legislature has always put a time limit on the power, revoking it whenever the executive branch has displeased them.

Obama has never sought to have TPA re-instated, but Romney does. Specifically, he hopes to enter into agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. Personally, I don’t know what business we are missing out on with these three countries, but overall I do not see any negative to the proposition. Trade isn’t a zero-sum game.

Copyright, Patent, and Trademark Protection

The document is either poorly worded or is explicitly attempting to be enigmatic about its intent, but as I read it, it appears to be suggesting an open trade agreement between any nations willing to genuinely ascribe to the global laws on copyright, patent, and trademark protection. This is, of course, an attempt to lessen China’s power – though it would also affect Russia and many other nations with questionable practices.

Unlike Romney’s “plan” to denounce China as a currency manipulator, I think that one could rightly confront China on this front. Whereas it sounds petty to hit China on their financial honesty when they are our creditor, pointing out that they are actively preventing us from making money via unlawful means is a much stronger argument. If China did not allow their people to flagrantly infringe on copyrights and patents, China would be buying much more from the US or allowing the US to sell much more in China.

Unfortunately, the currency manipulator idea and calling this free trade agreement the “Reagan Economic Zone” are, in conjunction, almost certainly going to throw the idea into the rubbish bin. I find it questionable that Romney actually seeks to have any sort of real plan for dealing with China, let alone the ideas he proposes in this document.

Energy Policy

The first several pages re-iterate what was said in the third of Romney’s high-level 5-point plan, so I will not address it further. He also comments on attempting to revise the Clean Air Act., but I am doubtful of the President’s power to have much effect on that – other than by using his power as the Executive to order to EPA to act in a certain manner during his tenure.

Following this, Romney seems to come out strongly in support of nuclear energy, talking about streamlining the process for approval and (presumably) construction. This is significantly better than Bush II’s plan of simply dumping a few billion into the industry and hoping that something would come undone, but otherwise not trying to remove any of the blocks that prevent the US from taking advantage of this technology.

Romney has a stronger goal of trying to increase the supply of gas and oil, domestically, and by dealing with Canada and Mexico. While I have no strong objection to this, I would note that, as I understand it, it can take a decade to locate an ideal spot for mining, set up a pump or oil rig, and put into place a steady method of transportation. By the time any oil sources that Romney lead to the creation of started to deliver oil to Americans, starting around 2023, I question how integral oil will still be to our economy. While still probably money better spent than on solar panels and wind farms, since oil can be packaged up and sold to India, Africa, or Russia in 2023 at the worst, I’m not sure that Romney’s plan to invest in oil is the best of all investments the US government could make.

On the other hand his idea of establishing “ARPA-E”, an agency dedicated to financing the study of energy production technologies in a similar manner that DARPA finances research into military technology, sounds fairly positive. I personally feel quite let-down that all of the big fusion-reactor research in the world is currently being pioneered in Europe.

 

To be continued in Part 3.

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