Tuesday, September 06, 2011


In a column published just as Rick Perry was getting into the Republican presidential race, David Brooks wrote this about GOP voters:

If voters think Nancy Pelosi is the biggest threat to their children's prosperity, they will hire Perry. If they think competition from Chinese and Indian workers is the biggest threat, they will hire Romney.

I read that and thought, "Then Romney's doomed," but Brooks, I gather, thinks it's an open question.

And so, apparently, does Romney himself. He's just released a 59-point jobs plan (could he have possibly picked a less emotionally resonant number?) and, according to Politico, one of the ten actions he plans to take on his first day in office is to show China who's boss:

Romney, by contrast, has put confronting China at the center of his plan, an approach his advisers expect to draw controversy.

One of his 10 first-day actions would be an executive order to sanction China for its trade practices and the manipulation of its currency. Romney also would create a new multinational trade group called the "Reagan Economic Zone," described in his plan as "a multilateral trading bloc open to any country committed to the principles of open markets and free enterprise."

The idea, advisers said, is to supplement and improve on the flawed World Trade Organization by forming a new alliance exclusively of trusted trading partners -- presumably excluding, and providing a counterweight to, China.

"I'll clamp down on the cheaters, and China’s the worst example of that," he said, pointing to its currency manipulation and lack of intellectual-property enforcement.

"I certainly don't want a trade war, but we can’t have a trade surrender either," he said.

Elsewhere at Politico, there's more on this:

As Mitt Romney begins delivering his jobs speech in Nevada Tuesday, he's putting a heavy emphasis on China.

He's already mentioned the growth of the Chinese economy as a threat to U.S. economic primacy in his speech now under way. And his 10-point plan of action for his first day in office includes sanctioning China for its trade practices.

"Thirty years ago, America was overwhelmingly the largest manufacturing economy in the world," he said. "This year, China is slated to pass us."

Having lived through much of the Cold War and a wave of anti-Japanese anger after the Cold War ended, I'm actually surprised that Americans aren't hating on some non-European enemy during this economic downturn -- maybe we're just suffering from xenophobia burnout after the Bush/Cheney years, or maybe we just hate one another so much that we can't be bothered to direct our anger outward. (Or, hey, maybe we just don't feel we need to bother with xenophobia when we have a Kenyan Muslim socialist in the White House.) Maybe the lack of China-hate (or India-hate or France-hate or...) is a by-product of the lack of foreign coverage in TV news.

In any case, Romney's clearly overlooking this reality, and overlooking the fact that the punditocracy doesn't control any Republican delegates. Romney's not as bad as Jon Huntsman, who often seems to be pursuing an all-pundit campaign strategy. But Romney's approach is nearly as delusional.


Paul Waldman has some amusing snark in response to the notion of a "Reagan Economic Zone":

... So here are some suggestions for initiatives the next Republican president could pursue:

GDP growth will be referred to as "Reagan Growth," as in "Reagan growth averaged a spectacular 6.4 percent last quarter." ...

Read the whole thing.