February 10 | 2016
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September 26 | 2022
Should Washington push an "industrial policy"? That is, should the U.S. government get involved in promoting certain domestic industries?
Darn straight it should. And that goes double when it comes to semiconductors. Computer chips are the little brains that run appliances, airplanes, mobile phones and cars. You can't have a modern economy without them.
We saw what happens when key manufacturing activities go offshore. During the COVID-induced supply chain crisis, Western manufacturers couldn't get their hands on the chips they needed to meet demand for their products. Some had to close or slowed production.
American automakers were especially handcuffed. General Motors, for one, blamed the chip shortage for a 15% drop in its U.S. deliveries of new vehicles in the second quarter from a year earlier.
And so it's hard to overstate how bringing chip-making to this country is good for this country. It would not only create many thousands of American jobs; it would ensure that other U.S. manufacturers don't have to beg Asians for semiconductors.
Toward that end we should hail the Chips and Science Act, championed by the Biden administration. It was astounding that 187 Republican House members voted against the bill, though gratifying that 24 did.
The GOP leadership had joined Chinese lobbyists in opposing it. Never mind that chip independence had the full-throated support of several former Trump officials, notably former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. To partisan robots, the national interest rarely overrides the joys of political warfare.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo rightly called the $52 billion in new semiconductor money "rocket fuel for our global competitiveness."
Asia dominates the production of semiconductors. Taiwan makes 65% of the world's semiconductors and accounts for nearly 90% of the advanced chips. And if China attacked and took over Taiwan, an adversary would have a stranglehold on America's — and the world's — manufacturing.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government has been pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into its own semiconductor industry. So, by the way, have the Europeans.
This is part of a bigger picture in which the U.S. has been reversing decades of "off-shoring" factory jobs to lower wage countries. Almost 350,000 jobs will be "reshored" this year — on top of about 265,000 added in 2021. The chips act and the Inflation Reduction Act are fueling many of the moves with tax breaks and other economic incentives.
"Globalization is in retreat," economists at Barclays told their clients.
Supply chains have become an economic battlefield of the 21st century. In a jarring example, Europe faces an energy crisis for having become dependent on Russia for gas and oil.
Raimondo, a former venture capitalist, has been wonderfully aggressive on this front. When Taiwan's GlobalWafers abandoned a plan to spend $5 billion on a plant in Germany, she called the CEO and nabbed the factory for Texas. Here come 1,500 jobs.
Citing the chips bill, U.S. semiconductor companies say they plan billions in new investment, and their jobs pay very well.
President Joe Biden preened at the recent groundbreaking for a new $20 billion plant Intel is building near Columbus, Ohio. Beside him stood two good Ohio Republicans, Gov. Mike DeWine and Sen. Rob Portman.
The Chinese government has been pouring money into other hot tech fields, such as artificial intelligence and robotics. These are areas in which the United States used to have a safe lead.
"We need America to dominate in certain areas of technology," Raimondo said. "Critical minerals, electric vehicle batteries, semiconductors, artificial intelligence." This obviously goes beyond jobs. It's about national security.
Well, is America going to compete or not? Washington just put its chips on chips. That would seem a smart wager.
Reprinted with permission from Creators.
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September 26 | 2022
Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) and his NRSC are once again under fire, this time for sending fundraising emails to GOP voters asking, “where do you want Republicans to send illegal immigrants next?” The multiple-choice answers include “Barack Obama’s House,” “The White House,” and “San Francisco.”
Sen. Scott is the embattled head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the official fundraising arm of the Senate GOP caucus. Recently he has been highly criticized by Republicans wondering why the NRSC’s funding of critical Republican senate campaigns has been so poor. Earlier this month a New York Times headline read: “How a Record Cash Haul Vanished for Senate Republicans.”
The NRSC email, posted to social media by The Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger, falsely claim the 50 Venezuelan immigrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard by Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, possibly unlawfully according to at least one lawsuit, are “illegal.” They had applied for asylum and were in the country legally.
“Democrats and their corrupt partners in the mainstream media just don’t get it,” the defensive email, titled, “OFFICIAL CORRESPONDENCE,” begins. “Republican Governors like Greg Abbott from Texas and Ron DeSantis from Florida showed coastal elite millionaires in Martha’s Vineyard what life is like on our country’s southern border – and they WERE NOT HAPPY.”
That too is false — there are few “coastal elite millionaires in Martha’s Vineyard” in late September, and most of the area’s residents were angered by what some legal experts are accusing DeSantis of: possible kidnapping.
“Biden’s BORDER CRISIS is only getting worse – and he REFUSES to do anything about it,” Scott’s email continues. DEADLY drugs, like fentanyl, are flowing into our country UNCHECKED – and Americans are dying at UNPRECEDENTED rates from overdoses. It’s sad – and PREVENTABLE.”
The email does not mention that Customs and Border Protection has seized 10,071 pounds of fentanyl this year already, according to The Arizona Republic. Nor does it explain how flying 50 asylum-seeking immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard would stop fentanyl from entering the U.S.
The Cato Institute, a right wing think tank, just last week reported “fentanyl is overwhelmingly smuggled by U.S. citizens almost entirely for U.S. citizen consumers.” But it also revealed that “60 percent of Republicans believe, ‘Most of the fentanyl entering the U.S. is smuggled in by unauthorized migrants crossing the border illegally.'”
Gov. DeSantis is being investigated by a Texas sheriff and sued by a Boston-based legal firm representing some of the Venezuelan immigrants. There are calls for the DOJ to open an investigation as well.
NBC News on Thursday reported the “air charter company Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration hired for his migrant-moving program has contributed big money to some top allies of the governor and was once legally represented by Rep. Matt Gaetz and his former partner, who is now Florida’s ‘public safety czar’ in charge of immigration policy.”
Reports say DeSantis has already paid more than $1.5 million in taxpayer funds on the possibly unlawful “stunt” to that “air charter company.”
Anger over Senator Scott’s NRSC fundraising email was strong on social media.
“Fascists,” tweeted Justin Hendrix, cofounder and CEO of the nonprofit Tech Policy Press.
“The Senate Republicans, whom respectable donors and conservative elites still consider it just fine to support, are raising money by embracing the exploitation of ‘illegal immigrants’ (who in fact aren’t illegal). Team Normal is now simply the wingman for Team Demagogue,” wrote veteran journalist and former Republican turned Never-Trumper and Democrat Bill Kristol.
“How is this legal? This can not possibly be legal,” said former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega.
“They are inciting hatred, xenophobia and violence. They are morally bankrupt, and are not fit to hold power,” warned Rep Sean Casten (D-IL).
“Andrew Jackson wants his bullshit back,” tweeted law professor and political scientist Anthony Michael Kreis, referring to the late American president responsible for the forced, brutal, violent, and deadly “removal” of Native Americans from their ancestral homelands.
“They’ve made human trafficking a central policy plank,” noted Media Matters for America senior researcher Jason Campbell.
“Liberal anger at the Martha’s Vineyard stunt wasn’t because the people were MIGRANTS, it was because they were PEOPLE—and jerking people around for a political stunt is despicable,” explained attorney Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, the policy director at the American Immigration Council. “That the right can’t understand this is a sign of how dehumanization has become a norm for some.”
“Online fundraising off human trafficking of people seeking asylum. Quite a party they’ve got there,” noted Democratic strategist and former Clinton campaign official Jesse Ferguson.
“Dehumanization and elimination as a fundraising tactic. Another reminder that this horror is what the MAGA base wants from their leaders,” warned Melissa Ryan, a consultant on combatting disinformation and extremism.
Jim Swift, senior editor at The Bulwark tweeted, “the cruelty is the point.”
Public affairs strategist Murshed Zaheed warns, “Republicans in the Trump era are going to operate like monstrous, inhumane ghouls. They are not going to stop until the national Democrats effectively counterattack them over it (ie go after DeSantis for potential criminal liabilities) instead of cowering in silence.”
Reprinted with permission from Alternet.
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