Our So-Called Foreign Policy: Historic New U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines and a Possible TPP Angle

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Although written in classic bureaucratese, the revised U.S.-Japan defense cooperation guidelines released today as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits the United States represent a genuinely historic event. Books should and will be written on the subject, and of course the full longer-term implications are anyone’s guess. But it’s not too early to conclude that the entire bilateral relationship has just been fundamentally altered, and to wonder whether President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (TPP) will be among the first major American policy initiatives affected.

But first, some context. The guidelines seem to bring to an end decades of official U.S. ambiguity about Japan’s place in American national security planning and in world politics itself. As I’ve written, as has been the case with World War II’s other big loser, Germany, American policy toward Japan has been torn between a determination to prevent these formidable economic powers from returning to war-like ways, and by a perceived need to enlist their resources in fighting the Cold War. Under Democratic and Republican presidents alike, Washington decided to square the circle through what I’ve called a “smothering strategy.”

The United States literally undertook to solve all of the international problems that could possibly induce the Germans and Japanese to conduct independent foreign policies to begin with. It ensured their security by offering defense from conventional military and nuclear threats (to the point of promising to commit national suicide to keep them free). And America ensured their prosperity. After providing mammoth post-war reconstruction aid, the United States opened its markets to German and Japanese exports much wider than their markets opened to U.S.-origin goods and services.

Initially, as they focused on rebuilding, Germany and Japan were generally content with Washington’s control of their diplomacy and leadership of new security arrangements they joined. For its part, the United States valued the contributions made to free world security by Bonn and Tokyo, even though both capitols greatly preferred to help out financially than in terms of building near-world class militaries.

Not that the U.S. approaches to Germany and Japan were identical. Because it was thought realistic to embed the former in a series of pacifying and profitable regional institutions, American leaders were more comfortable with relatively larger German armed forces. They also insisted that Germany shoulder the same kinds of legal obligations to defend the United States (at least legally) that America had assumed to defend Germany (in the form of the North Atlantic Treaty). Creating regional networks of cooperation looked much more difficult in East Asia, whose countries were much more diverse; therefore, the policy focus was primarily on Japan. Tokyo was never pressed to promise to help defend the United States or its interests. In other words, the U.S.-Japan military relationship was entirely one way.

Once Germany and Japan (and neighboring countries) recovered economically, and the Soviet Union erased American superiority in nuclear weapons, both the trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific security systems came under major strains. The U.S. nuclear guarantee became less credible, and therefore all of America’s European and Asian allies felt freer to hedge their bets by periodically defying Washington’s foreign policy writs – even as their skimping on military spending became more irritating to the United States. Americans, meanwhile, (especially the public) began grumbling more loudly about German and Japanese trade protectionism and its economic costs. (For a history of decades worth of NATO “burden sharing” quarrels, see this article.) As a result, by the mid-1980s at the latest, the U.S. leaders found themselves in the exquisitely awkward position of insisting that their major allies contribute more to the common defense, while remaining as smothered – i.e., subordinate to America – as ever.

The Soviet Union’s demise relieved much of this pressure on U.S.-German and U.S.-Japan relations (especially on the security side), but the emergence of post-Soviet Russian revanchism and the rise of China as a possible challenger to America’s preeminence in East Asia have returned them to the spotlight.

And this is where the historic nature of the new U.S.-Japan guidelines becomes clear. Although U.S.-led security structures are basically unchanged, the new guidelines take an unprecedented step in turning the security relationship with Japan into a genuine alliance. This biggest change was announced in the section stipulating,

When the United States and Japan each decides to take actions involving the use of force in accordance with international law, including full respect for sovereignty, and with their respective Constitutions and laws to respond to an armed attack against the United States or a third country, and Japan has not come under armed attack, they will cooperate closely to respond to the armed attack and to deter further attacks.”

Previously, Japan’s only defense obligations under the security relationship were in Japan’s immediate neighborhood (though the definition of that neighborhood has been steadily expanded), and entailed direct attacks on Japan itself. In fact, Japan was not required to shoot down nearby missiles heading for the United States or even to defend American warships engaged in missile defense in its own vicinity. Although many operational details apparently remain to be worked out, Japan has clearly decided to assume more of not only its own security burden, but that of the rest of the world. And rather than simply reflecting unilateral Japanese decisions that in principle could be reversed at any time (specifically, an Abe government decision to interpret Japan’s American-imposed “peace constitution” with unprecedented latitude – which still needs to be ratified by the Japanese parliament), Tokyo’s new posture is now part of a formal agreement with the United States.

Several huge questions remain to be answered. For example, will Japan demand a greater say in planning security strategy now that it’s finally significantly expanding the risks it will run and the expenses it will incur? Will the new agreement embolden Japan to respond more forcefully to Chinese muscle-flexing in East Asia? And how will China and the rest of the region react? Even before the guidelines were announced, the press in Korea – a former longtime Japanese colony that’s also involved in some territorial disputes with Tokyo – was nervously asking whether the Abe visit to Washington would result in the United States “centralizing its Asia policies on Japan.”

And don’t forget the economic angle! Most important, given America’s historic policy of assigning its security interests in East Asia over its economic interests, Japan now appears in a much better position to persuade the Obama administration to cave to its TPP-related demands to keep its own key agricultural markets substantially closed, and to open U.S. automotive markets further without any reciprocity.

In my view, such a quid pro quo would be a major mistake – if only because it must be assumed that Japan is raising its security game to promote its own interests, not as a favor to America. But U.S. leaders long have been convinced that America needs its allies much more than vice versa, and Abe would scarcely be the first foreign leader to take full advantage.

(What’s Left of) Our Economy: Treasury’s Lew Exposes Fast Track as a Sham

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For someone supposed to be a political whiz due to staff experience on Capitol Hill, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sure has been acting like a political bungler in explaining to Congress why strong currency manipulation sanctions don’t belong in trade deals like President Obama’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

In his April 21 letter to the Senate Finance Committee, Lew both fatally undermined both the president’s insistence that the fast track bill gives Congress meaningful influence on U.S. trade negotiations, and Washington’s (feeble) efforts to end protectionist exchange rate policies abroad.

Lew’s letter, after all, emphasized two arguments. He claimed, “all of the partners consulted have made clear that they will not support the introduction of enforceable currency provisions in the context of trade agreements, and specifically, the TPP.” And he pointed to the administration’s “serious concern that in any trade negotiation other countries would insist that an enforceable currency provision be designed so it could be used to challenge legitimate U.S. monetary policy, an outcome we would find unacceptable.“

Lew’s first point amounts to an admission that Congress can put all the negotiating instructions it wants to in a fast track bill, but that the administration will ignore them if the other TPP countries (or any other countries talking trade with Washington) say they oppose them. Of course, this position not only tells lawmakers they’re kidding themselves. It also tells America’s interlocutors that they have the whip hand in trade talks.

Lew’s second point needlessly hands foreign governments an all-purpose excuse to stonewall Washington’s efforts to eliminate “unfair and inappropriate currency polices [that] have hurt our workers and firms,” as he has labeled them. For now his counterparts need only claim that these measures are no different from America’s own monetary easing.

Especially weird about this Lew argument is that, assuming it’s serious, his own efforts to end these foreign exchange rate policies logically have to be based on a belief that they are clearly different from the Federal Reserve’s moves. Rather than strengthen foreign governments’ positions, why doesn’t he tell Congress, the American people, and U.S. trade rivals what these distinctions are, and urge American lawmakers to add to his bargaining power by linking countermeasures to the trade talks?

One likely answer: Despite official protestations to the contrary, President Obama is ready to accept a bad TPP trade deal over no deal at all. Consequently, Congress has been put squarely on the spot. A senior U.S. official has now openly admitted that its instructions are pointless, and that Mr. Obama’s position on lawmakers’ currency concerns is a matter of choice, not necessity. What better reasons to end the sham of TPP and fast tracking its approval once and for all?

(What’s Left of) Our Economy: Globalization Unraveling? Maybe. U.S. Manufacturing Reshoring? Barely

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Here I was all set to start rethinking my skepticism about American manufacturing reshoring after reading Jeffrey Rothfelder’s thoughtful, detailed Washington Post piece claiming that globalization is “unraveling.” And then I remembered all the facts that the author has overlooked.

Reshoring isn’t Rothfelder’s main point. But it’s one important trend he cites on behalf of his contention that “hardly any of the promised returns from globalization have materialized, and what was until recently a taboo topic inside multinationals — to wit, should we reconsider, even rein in, our global growth strategy? — has become an urgent, if still hushed, discussion.

According to the author, “Given the failures of globalization, virtually every major company is struggling to find the most productive international business model. Several approaches have emerged. Reshoring — or relocating manufacturing operations back to Western factories from emerging nations — is one option.”

I can’t comment knowledgeably about reshoring by multinationals from other countries. But I do know that anyone believing that reshoring by American multinationals is much more than “a drop in the bucket” needs to explain why:

>The American business establishment, which, as Rothfelder writes, has been enamored with offshoring for at least two decades, is lobbying so hard for passage of President Obama’s proposed Pacific Rim trade deal. Just as important, why are these companies lobbying so hard to keep out of the agreement and the legislation that would fast track it through Congress requirements to punish currency manipulation? The reason: This practice artificially under-prices – and advantages – foreign products made by offshored U.S.-owned or affiliated factories, to the detriment of domestic American products, as surely as it under-prices foreign products made by foreign-owned factories;

>U.S. manufacturing’s output during the current recovery has exceeded its rebound during past recoveries only if you ignore the growing likelihood that mis-measurement of price changes has produced a significant over-count of real manufacturing production for nearly two decades;

>Americans should take any satisfaction from a manufacturing rebound during this recovery that’s been driven significantly by falling real wages. Since the recession technically ended in mid-2009, these wages after inflation are down 0.75 percent – even though such pay throughout the private sector is up 2.23 percent during this period.  

Another problem with the evidence presented on behalf of robust reshoring:  Manufacturing imports during this recovery are not lagging their pace during previous expansions. For example, it’s true that these imports have risen more slowly during the current recovery than during the previous decade’s. In full-year terms (which aren’t 100 percent accurate because economic cycles don’t start and finish at the beginning or end of calendar years – but which are close enough), such imports were up 54.92 percent during this expansion between 2009 and 2014. That is indeed slower than their 62.90 percent growth during the 2001-2007 six-year economic recovery. (All figures in this and the following paragraph are in pre-inflation terms.)

But the reason is that growth (and therefore demand for all manufactures) during this recovery has been historically weak: 20.80 percent versus 36.30 percent during the previous decade’s recovery. Obviously, the year’s worth of difference between the two isn’t even close to the explanation. Indeed, if anything, adjusted for overall growth, manufactures imports are rising ever faster. 

The Rothfelder article makes some great points about how expanded world trade and investment haven’t even remotely produced miraculous returns for the offshoring businesses that predicted them, much less for the U.S. economy as a whole. His discussions of underwhelming consumer market growth in China and elsewhere in the developing world, and of the continuing challenges from foreign state-owned or controlled enterprises, deserve particular attention – especially by American legislators considering those new Obama trade deals and a blank negotiating check for the president.

But the kind of high road manufacturing comeback he describes, and that America urgently needs, couldn’t possibly take place even if the globalization unraveling he portrays proceeds exponentially further. Instead, policies of strategic reversal will be required – starting with Congress’ rejection of new trade pacts modeled on past exemplars of globalization hype.

Our So-Called Foreign Policy: How a Superpower Would React to China’s Infrastructure Bank Challenge

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So now what? That’s the question a Twitter follower asked me after reading my posts and tweets criticizing China’s establishment of a new Asian infrastructure financing bank, and the ineffective U.S. response to its’ allies rush to join an institution that challenges an international economic order that they themselves built. I’ve now started to think this through, and here are my preliminary thoughts – which focus on the golden opportunity these events create to rethink an American alliance policy that was obsolete even before the Cold War ended.

China’s move spells trouble for the United States on any number of levels, but especially for its efforts to preserve the approach to foreign policy and the global economy it’s clung to under Democratic and Republican presidents alike since the end of World War II. This strategy has ultimately aimed at eliminating the conditions responsible for great power war in the first place by binding like-minded countries (generally, but not always, democracies) into cooperative economic networks that could promote global stability and prosperity, and by expanding this system whenever practicable. Challengers from outside this free world camp would be dealt with through various global alliances.

Also crucial: In all of these endeavors, the United States provided the lion’s share of the so-called public goods – the resources for defense and liquidity for promoting growth (which included wide open trade markets for countries that kept theirs substantially closed). In turn, the United States was generally recognized as first among equals for the systemic, existential decisions.

These arrangements, which extended to the free world camp’s consequential institutions (NATO and the other security relationships, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) were far from America’s only viable strategy during the early post-World War II decades, as I’ve explained here. But they were a sensible choice and deserve credit for fostering successful postwar reconstruction, as well as peace and record prosperity throughout the developed world.

Yet it made much less strategic sense for the United States once the Soviet Union caught up in nuclear armaments, and thereby gained the power to turn America’s defense of its allies into an exercise in suicide. And it made much less economic sense for the United States once its allies began catching up economically, and its role as liquidity provider became less affordable.

It’s no surprise, then, that the early postwar monetary system – the heart of that period’s international economic system – fell apart in 1971, and has never been adequately replaced, even though its institutions survived in shriveled forms. The alliance system outlived its Soviet adversary, and China’s weakness following the Cultural Revolution and growing tensions with Moscow pushed it to the military and ideological competition’s sidelines for many years. But by the same token, the remaining American costs and risks required to maintain Cold War security structures lost much of their rationale.

Now new versions of these problems and dilemmas are now being forced into the open – including those involving nuclear threats – by China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) gambit as well as by the return of Russian revanchism. In fact, because so many of America’s NATO allies have applied to join the bank, these two developments intersect. These allies are facing Russian challenges throughout Europe that for the first time in decades raise the possibility of spheres of influence being redrawn by force – primarily in the Baltics. As I’ve written, I believe that America’s ill-considered decision to expand NATO’s frontiers right up to Russia’s borders is largely responsible. But the allies clearly went along, and the shrunken states of their conventional military forces mean that they have no prospect of responding effectively – but not catastrophically (i.e., without nuclear weapons) – without American help.

At the same time, these allies have ignored American objections and joined a Chinese creation that can only be legitimately viewed as a rival of a U.S. and Western-fostered blueprint to ensure that growth and development worldwide proceed according to market-based principles and associated political values. Anyone familiar with Asia in particular knows that this goal often has been honored in the breach – one main reason for the global economic imbalances that nearly blew up the world economy just over six short years ago. It’s entirely understandable that low-income countries complain that even the rapid growth they’ve achieved under the Western-dominated global economy hasn’t been fast enough. But imagine how excessive and unbalanced their growth would be, and how dangerously distorted the world economy would become once again, if the current restraints were removed – if China was allowed to write the rules of doing business in Asia, as President Obama says he fears. Moreover, the entirety of East Asia itself could look as bloated and filthy and corrupt as China itself.

That America’s allies (Japan is still sitting on the fence) should ignore these considerations in a clear rush to win whatever contracts the AIIB winds up handing out raises the most profound questions about their commitment to longstanding free world foreign policy goals. Their actions are particularly stunning in light of renewed security threats that, due to enduring facts of geography, endanger them much more than they endanger America. The idea that the United States should continue assuming any risks of nuclear confrontation on behalf of such countries looks particularly dubious.

Nor should it be forgotten that China itself has been a major beneficiary of the current American-inspired order. Peace and stability in Asia has been by far the most important contributor to its breakneck growth and dramatically improved living standards. So it’s at least jaw-droppingly ironic to read reports of Chinese warnings that North Korea’s nuclear arsenal could be much larger than so far estimated, and could grow much faster. After all, Beijing not only still serves as the North’s economic lifeline, and has been more aggressively pressing its claims to seas and islands in East and Southeast Asia, on top of its campaign of undermining America’s regional influence.

Even worse, Korea looks like an ever more dangerous tar baby for the United States. Yes, the ongoing large U.S. troop deployment in South Korea no doubt helps to deter destabilizing provocations and even aggression by the North. At the same time, it threatens to draw the United States into any conflict on the peninsula – which could well go nuclear. Further, as I’ve written, the North’s nuclear forces could soon become strong enough to deter deeper U.S. involvement in a new Korean War – and doom the troops already in harm’s way. Most important, America is exposed to these possible disasters even though it’s located thousands of miles away from Korea, and Northeast Asia looks endowed with more than enough big powers (not only China, but Russia and Japan as well as South Korea) to deal with the North itself. Oh – and did I mention? South Korea is all in with the AIIB, too.

To me, therefore, one obvious U.S. response to China’s creation of the AIIB should be to deliver an ultimatum to those new members that are also negotiating to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal with America: If you’re that keen on the AIIB, you can kiss good-bye the TPP and the greater access to America’s market you’re seeking. In fact, Washington should feel free to increase and erect new trade barriers to their products. Nor should the main culprit escape unscathed; China’s access to American customers should be restricted, too. And South Korea should be told that it’s new free trade agreement will be torn up if Seoul doesn’t leave the Chinese-led institution.

The new European members of the AIIB present a more complicated problem. One possible solution would be for Washington to make clear that any Asian products created with the help of new AIIB-financed infrastructure projects (ranging from ports, roads, and bridges to power and water systems) will face new U.S. trade barriers – and Washington would be judge, jury, and court of appeals for identifying these goods. Without the ability to sell to America, those infrastructure contracts sought by the Europeans (and others) become a lot less valuable.

And although the AIIB doesn’t pose any security threats to America per se, its creation carries major security implications because a main rationale for the risks Washington has assumed via its East Asian military presence is economic. In other words, if remaining aloof from the AIIB winds up discriminating against American domestic businesses (as opposed to the foreign factories of U.S. multinational companies), the American military is out of South Korea, its bases in Japan will be cut way back, and the Asians will be more than welcome to deal with North Korea’s nukes on their own. Ditto for those Asian countries worried about the expansionism of China itself. If they want U.S. military help, they’d better not be playing footsie with the threat. I’d also support American leaders reminding the Europeans that it remains an ocean away from Vladimir Putin’s designs, and that the allies would be well advised to take seriously their talk of working inside the AIIB to make sure it acts quasi-responsibly.

U.S. leaders trapped in 20th century ways of thought will (nervously) laugh off these proposals because they’re still convinced that America needs its allies more than vice versa. Leaders who understand geopolitics and the full range of thoroughly viable strategic options it creates – not to mention America’s unmatched market power and potential for much greater economic self-sufficiency – will start to act like a superpower rather than settling for (increasingly) hollow rhetoric. I just hope Washington doesn’t need a completely unnecessary war to come to its sense.

Making News: John Batchelor Podcast & New Marketwatch Column on Obama’s TPP Fakeconomics

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Things just get busier and busier!  As promised, here’s the podcast of my Wednesday night appearance on John Batchelor’s nationally syndicated radio show. This segment starts at the top of the 10 PM hour.

I was especially pleased that John and co-host Gordon Chang gave me the chance to explain the main reason (as I see it) to oppose both the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and granting President Obama sweeping authority to conclude it.  They’re the latest examples of American delusions of negotiating away the hidden regulatory and other what are called “non-tariff trade barriers” that keep so many Pacific Rim economies closed to U.S. exports, and that keep artificially juicing their exports to the United States.  Currency manipulation is only one example.  And the continuing power of these delusions continues to worsen America’s trade deficits and slowing its already feeble recovery.

I’m also pleased to announce that yesterday, Marketwatch.com published my latest op-ed – a column showing that the president’s portrayal of TPP’s economics is totally backwards, and describing the role and impact of these hidden foreign trade barriers in a little more detail.  Here’s the link.

(What’s Left of) Our Economy: More Immigration Fakeonomics

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As should be known to anyone who’s ever done any opinion writing (including legal briefs), it’s always smart to deal with the strongest opposing arguments not by ignoring them but by getting ahead of them – acknowledging them and showing why they’re wrong. If only someone had told this to researchers at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). The organization has just issued a report on taxes paid by America’s illegal immigrants with no mention whatever of basic contextual information that badly undercuts its findings.

According to ITEP, as opposed to the conventional wisdom, America’s estimated 11.4 million illegal immigrants “pay billions of dollars in local, state, and federal taxes” and, even better, “their tax contributions would increase under immigration policy reform.”  How many billions?  The Institute looked at 2012, and claims that this population contributed a total of $11.84 billion to state and local coffers.

Sound impressive? Maybe – until you ask about the states’ and localities’ total tax haul that year. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it was $1.0602 trillion (when you add up the annual numbers in reports like this). But that figure includes corporate income tax levels, whereas the illegal immigrant total no doubt overwhelmingly represents taxes on individuals. If we remove those business taxes, though, 2012 state and local income taxes still amounted to $1.0110 trillion. So the illegal population’s share was a bare 1.17 percent.

Also important is knowing how illegal immigrants’ share of state and local tax payments compares with those of the legal population. The answer? Not impressively. America’s overall population in 2014 was about 320 million, and the 11.4 illegals add up to 3.56 percent of the figure. So proportionately, they pay only about one-third the taxes of all residents of the United States, and a lower share of the taxes of legal residents.

This information renders positively comical ITEP’s contention that legalizing the entire illegal population would boost annual state and local tax revenues by $2.2 billion annually. And that’s before even asking about the drain on state and local resources that would result from complete amnesty, or about the magnet effect of legalization on low-income populations in Latin America and around the world.

ITEP’s description of these miniscule illegal immigrant tax payments and their future potential as “significant” makes clear that its report aimed to strengthen the case for legalizing this population. But by for any reader with even a hint of common sense, it accomplishes exactly the opposite goal.

Making News: Talking Fast-Tracked Trade on Nationally Syndicated Radio Tonight

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Heckuva busy day today!  Hot on the heels of my interview on Connecticut’s WATR-AM, and the publication of my new article in The Hill, I’ll be appearing on John Batchelor’s nationally syndicated radio program tonight to discuss President Obama’s big Pacific Rim trade deal and its likely impact on the U.S. economy. John, co-host Gordon Chang, and I will also be focusing on the fast track legislation that would give the president a near-blank check to pursue the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

If you can’t tune in at 10 PM EST tonight, I’ll post a link to the podcast as soon as one is available.  But wouldn’t it be more fun to listen live at this link?

 

Making News: New Post in The Hill on Trade Deals as Growth as Well as Job Killers

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I’m pleased to report that The Hill newspaper, which specializes in covering Congress, has just published a new article of mine.  The piece shows that recent trade deals have not only undermined job-creation and wages in the United States.  They’ve slowed the economic growth needed to generate employment in the first place.  In fact, the trade flows heavily shaped by these agreements and similar policies have reduced the pace of the already feeble U.S. recovery by nearly 16 percent.

Click on this link to read.

(What’s Left of) Our Economy: An Obama Trade Winner…That Isn’t

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If you still doubt that President Obama doesn’t know nearly enough about trade’s impact on the U.S. economy to merit a fast track blank check from Congress, ask yourself why he decided to promote the virtues of new agreements at a roundtable yesterday in Fairfax County, Virginia.

It’s clear why some combination of the host Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and White House aides pitched the appearance. They viewed it as a chance to spotlight all the high-tech, knowledge-industry companies throughout the affluent county that they’re sure will benefit from the trade expansion spurred by deals like the president’s prospective Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But the administration is ignoring a screamingly obvious reality: Fairfax and Washington, D.C.-area municipalities like it are good bets to prosper long-term whether new trade deals are signed or not – less because they’re so intrinsically dynamic, but because they’re so heavily dependent on federal government spending and jobs for their well-being. Indeed, Fairfax openly admits the link.

According to Fairfax’ own statistics, just under 21 percent of its workers are employed by government at all levels – federal, state, and county. The comparable share for the nation as a whole is 16.16 percent. But these Fairfax numbers tell only part of the story. For they omit all the county residents employed at its innumerable so-called private sector companies that survive (and thrive) almost solely on federal contracts – and all the business and tax revenues they in turn generate for Fairfax’ other companies and budget.

Federal spending was especially helpful to Fairfax during the recession. According to the National Association of Counties, it never experienced one. But Fairfax’ reliance on Washington’s tax dollars was also evident from its concern about the federal spending slowdown agreed to by the White House and Congress.  George Mason University economists estimated that in 2013 the sequestration cost Fairfax more than eight percent of its economic output and more than 13 percent of its jobs – losses far greater than those suffered nation-wide.

Many conservatives will surely interpret the White House’s agreement at the least to spotlight Fairfax as a sign of the president’s alleged determination to addict the entire U.S. economy to federal spending. As I see it, yesterday’s Fairfax session points to an even more disturbing conclusion: that after more than five years living in the capitol’s political and media bubble, Mr. Obama now assumes that the Beltway norm is now the national norm.

Making News: Talking Trade on Connecticut Radio Just After Noon Today

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I’m pleased to report that I’ll be appearing today on WATR-AM (Waterbury, Connecticut) radio today to talk about the intensifying national debate in Congress and throughout the country on President Obama’s trade agenda, and granting him fast track authority to pursue it.

The segment is scheduled to be broadcast on Larry Rifkin’s “Talk of the Town” program at 12:10 PM EST.  You can listen live at this link.  I’m not sure a podcast will be made available, so tuning in for the program today could well be your only chance.

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