Casting My Support for Obama

Throughout my book, Five Short Blasts, and throughout this blog, until now, I have remained non-partisan.  I am an independent and have voted for Republicans, Democrats and even 3rd party candidates in various elections.  My book is written from a non-partisan perspective because both major parties have been on the same side (the wrong side) of the key issues raised in my book – the issues of immigration and trade.  Both have supported high rates of immigration and both have been strident supporters of free trade.  All has been to the detriment of most Americans, and the evidence of this mounts with each passing day. 

But as the evidence mounts, I have detected some shifts.  To their credit, Republicans (at least the right wing of the party) have been a bulwark against illegal immigration and have fought off attempts at “immigration reform,” a euphemism for amnesty and “guest workers.”  It’s an example of how voter outrage can trump the influence of coporate lobbyists who would like nothing more than to throw open the borders completely to a storm surge of cheap labor.  More recently, even the Democrats seem to see the wisdom of insisting upon enforcement and controlling the border before any new immigration initiatives can be considered.  Unfortunately, both parties still favor extremely high rates of legal immigration.  So, at this point, it’s difficult to see any real difference between McCain and Obama on this issue. 

When it comes to trade policy, however, the difference is night and day.  On June 10th, in a speech before the National Federation of Independent Business, McCain said the following:

When new trading partners can sell in our market, and American companies can sell in theirs, the gains are great and lasting. The strength of the American economy offers a better life to every society we trade with, and the good comes back to us in many ways — in better jobs, higher wages, and lower prices.

Only someone who is completely out of touch with the economy or someone who has no problem lying to the electorate would dare to suggest to Americans with a straight face that free trade has created “better jobs” and “higher wages.”  By contrast, Obama has expressed concern about the effects of free trade and has spoken in favor of inclusion of environmental and labor standards in any new agreements, enforcement of existing agreements, and even renegotiation of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement). 

While none of these actions alone would be sufficient to make significant inroads in reversing our trade deficit, Obama at least demonstrates an understanding of the role our trade policies have had in the demise of our economy.  He clearly seems inclined to take meaningful action as needed to restore a balance to our trade equation, unlike McCain who seems to be one more free trade cheerleader, reading from the script of his corporate sponsors.  While Obama may not have voiced support for tariffs to address our trade imbalance (perhaps wisely, although they’re clearly needed), he is definitely more inclined than McCain to adopt them. 

Back on the subject of immigration, I’m not quite as concerned as perhaps I should be about Obama’s expressed willingness to increase immigration in an effort to unite families (as he has pledged).  Since he has also pledged to take up the challenges of climate change and breaking our dependence on foreign oil, I think that he will soon recognize that his immigration goals would have to take a back seat if any meaningful progress is to be made on the climate change and energy issues.  He is a very smart man and one doesn’t need a lot of smarts to see that the first step in addressing these problems is shutting off the fuel to the fire – the rampant rates of immigration that are driving population growth, energy consumption and carbon emissions. 

I also like his positions on the issues of the Iraq war and fiscal responsibility.  America is headed in the wrong direction on too many fronts, and it’s definitely time for a change. 

For these reasons I now deem it appropriate to cast my support for Barack Obama.  

Perhaps on St. Patty’s Day, after he’s elected president, we can make him an honorary Irish-American and dub him “Brock O’Bomough!”

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6 Responses to Casting My Support for Obama

  1. Robert says:

    Pete,

    Might I suggest voting for neither candidate as I have a feeling if Obama does get elected it will be easier for him to push through an Amnesty bill as he will have the complete support of both the house and the senate. At least with a Republican President then perhaps it would be harder to push an amnesty through. I deeply fear the borders will be thrown wide open with Obama and the Democrats in charge as they have been completely lacking in courage and seem to stand for political correctness at all cost. One question for you though, what if Mit Romney is selected as McCain’s VP, would that change your mind?

  2. Henry Dubb says:

    I would strongly disagree with your stance. I actually see McCain moving in the “protectionist” direction much more than Obama. For his global warming platform McCain accepted some tariffs on Chinese goods. A stance which Obama would never offer.

    Obama’s economic plans are in the hands of Furman and Gosslebee, certainly neither a freind of you thesis. Both, like Obama, refuse to acknowledge that “blind trade” has had any effect on our standard of living.

    I think the best case for McCain is not him himself, but the Democrats. How will the Democrats behave on trade with Obama or McCain in the top chair. There is no doubt in my mind the Dems will be more aggressive “fair traders” with McCain than with Obama.

  3. Pete Murphy says:

    Gentlemen, the fact of the matter is that one of these two guys – McCain or Obama – will be our next president. If there was another choice – one that that opposed immigration and was committed to balancing trade, and had any real hope of drawing more than 1% of the vote – I’d be there voting for him/her. A while back, there was a rumor that Lou Dobbs would run. If he did (I suppose it’s still a remote possibility, but I doubt it), I’d switch my support to Lou. But for now, on these two most critical issues, I see Obama as the one more likely to make progress on at least one of the issues.

    There was a point in time – a few years ago – when I very much liked McCain but I’ve been surprised at how he has transformed from an independent thinker and straight talker into a Bush clone, favoring amnesty and leading the cheers for free trade. \

    Henry, can you direct me to any quotes from McCain in which he is supportive of tariffs? I’m not aware of any and might change my tune. As for now, in light of the quote I included in my post above, he seems to me to be positively delusional about the effects of trade.

    Robert, regarding Mitt Romney, he seems to have a following here in Michigan, but I’m very suspicious of him. He has a reputation as a savvy businessman. From what I’ve observed, whenever someone is elected for their business experience in the hopes that the government is then run efficiently, like a business, what we actually get instead is a government run FOR business. That wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that business wants a flood of immigrants in order to hold down labor costs, and wants to outsource even more for the same reason. Secondly, during the primary campaigning in Michigan, Romney repeated over and over that Michigan was experiencing a one-state recession, which told me a lot about his grasp of the economy.

    I am concerned about the prospect of another amnesty bill and a bill that includes a “guest worker” program. To me, this would amount to nothing more than legalizing the problem by passing out green cards at the border like candy. Obama has said that he won’t consider such a move until the border is secure. I have some additional reasons to believe that Obama would actually drag his feet on anything like that, but I don’t want to get into those reasons here.

    I’m also counting on having sufficient Republicans in the House, even after this election, to stalemate Obama if he does try to push an amnesty bill through. The opposition to amnesty among the American people is broad and deep. I plan to vote for the re-election of my Republican Congressman for this very reason. He has been very active in fighting off “immigration reform.”

    Thanks for the comments, guys. Believe me, you won’t offend me with criticism of any candidates. There is little to like about any of them. But, like it or not, one of the two is our next president and, at this point, I see Obama as the lesser of two evils. Please feel free to bring to my attention anything that you think may change that opinion.

  4. Henry Dubb says:

    I saw it on the Eyes on Trade site. It was something he had in his “global warming” speech but took it out at the last minute out of concerns of him being anti “free trade”.

    I guess support I take as a strong statement. I may certainly vote for a candidate I don’t support. Most of Obama’s economic advisers have built their careers on the anti thesis of your book. I think Obama is much more of a globalist than McCain. In particular an Obama trade policy will become intermingled with foreign policy. For example, increased trade with countries for charities sake.

    I guess my point is if I was going to construct a candidate who would be the anti thesis of your book it would be Obama.

  5. Pete Murphy says:

    Well, I hope I’m not being naive, but I’m taking at face value the criticism of trade policies that he has voiced in many speeches and on his web site. I’m not saying he’ll come anywhere close to the policies I’ve proposed in my book but I think he’ll be more inclined to hold the line against any more onerous trade deals than McCain. For example, if an agreement is reached in the Doha round of WTO trade negotiations, I suspect McCain would sign it without a second thought. If Obama signed it, it would represent a clear breach of his promise for “change.” Of course, nothing has ever stopped presidents from turning their backs on campaign promises before.

  6. Henry Dubb says:

    I guess I see Obama as more of the “bought and paid for” free trader of the bunch. He has offered nothing of substance that would convince me he is not. All of his economic advisers are rabid Freidmanites including Rubin himself. If Obama would do as you argue, why are they not siding with McCain.

    In WI he gave this speech on trade. Many liberal papers applauded him but when you read the actual words, he was arguing for the same old policies. Klein (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20089.htm) has an interesting piece on how he’s already moving to the economic right.

    I would argue we are better with McCain, not that I’d vote for either. Here is why with McCain the majority Democratic congress would never send a bad trade deal, with Obama they most likely would. Free traders love Obama, like they loved Bill, because they know the only way to get this crap through congress is with a Dem in the White House.

    I think the only way to move away from the free trade mess is to have a strong Democratic opposition. We will not have that if Obama gets in. I do think its worth reading up on Gooslbee and Furman. I think it can be argued they a good predictor of governance.

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