Month: October 2012

The Foreign Policy Case for Mitt Romney

Those hoping for a debate on foreign policy during the final presidential face-off may have been disappointed last week. Both candidates continually circled back to domestic issues, defaulting to talking points on education and the auto bailout. Detroit and Ohio were topics of conversation alongside Beijing and Iran.    Voters who watched the last debate received a clear lesson on how important a strong economy is to America’s status on the international stage. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen has reminded us, our debt is the greatest threat to our national security. But, in the lead-up to next week’s election, it is equally important to make the case for the inverse: global strength is imperative in rebuilding the American economy. Our economy and our national security are directly linked in both directions. It is projecting power abroad—not reverting to isolationism or protectionism—that brings America economic opportunities.   Aside from discussing the role of the economy in foreign affairs, the candidates did spend some time debating global policy. Governor Romney’s tone was sober, careful and calm, juxtaposed with President Obama’s more bellicose tactics. The President’s greatest asset is that he is already commander-in-chief, but his tone in the final debate was not befitting of his position. As he sarcastically defined aircraft carriers and submarines, the President failed to look presidential.    As with most debates, which...

Read More

An Alternative to the “Lesser of Two Evils”

Can two party platforms effectively represent the opinion of 300 million Americans? If so, can you name the candidate who agrees with the majority of Americans on drug policy and defense spending? Better yet, why are President Obama and Governor Romney, clear front runners in the polls, afraid of letting a third-party candidate be heard on the national stage?  Surely they could defend their positions against a “fringe”candidate who has no chance of getting elected. Could it be because this “fringe” candidate has a platform that resonates with the American public? In 2008, Obama campaigned on a platform of respecting states’ rights on medical marijuana. Yet, as of today his administration has raided four times the number of medical marijuana dispensaries as his Republican predecessor. According to Gallup, a majority of Americans now want to legalize marijuana and a whopping 75 percent support medical marijuana. If this is something that most Americans want, why are neither of the candidates who supposedly represent the interests of the majority of the U.S. public talking about it? Sadly, it’s because neither agrees with most Americans on ending the war on drugs or cutting military spending. Obama’s administration currently spends $1 billion more on the military than President George W. Bush ever did, and if Romney were elected, he would raise it $2 billion more than Obama. So, if I’m one of the 39...

Read More

Policy Briefs Season 4, Episode 2: “City Council Elections And Propositions 3 And 4”

Host Andy Uhler talks with Austin City Council Member and LBJ School Professor Bill Spelman about Propositions 3 and 4, which aim to change how Austin chooses its City Council members. Austin currently elects seven city council members “at-large” to represent the entire City of Austin. This year, two propositions on the ballot attempt to change the at-large system to a single-member system. If one of these propositions passes, voters in geographically defined electoral districts would vote for single members to represent their interests on the City Council. According to Spelman, similar propositions have gone before Austin voters six times without success. He thinks most people currently support a change to single-member districts, but the presence of two slightly different propositions may split the votes of support so that neither proposition will pass. If that happens, the next opportunity to vote on the issue will be 2015. For more information on what’s on the ballot, visit the Travis County Clerk’s website. Text of the Propositions:  PROP. 3: Shall the city charter be amended to provide for the election of council members from 10 geographical single-member districts, with the mayor to be elected from the city at large, and to provide for an independent citizens redistricting commission? PROP. 4: Shall the city charter be amended to provide for the election of council members from eight geographical single-member districts, with the...

Read More

The Moral Cost Of Inaction In Syria

The tragedy in Syria grows worse by the day. Battles between rebel forces and the Assad regime continue to rage across the country. With over 30,000 casualties and hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war-torn areas, the suffering endured by the Syrian people is an abhorrent tragedy. However, an even greater tragedy is the comprehensive lack of leadership shown by the United States government in responding to the crisis. This is a rolling disaster for American leadership. The Obama administration’s failure to act in the face of growing human carnage is a blow to the United States’ reputation, to regional and international allies, to initiatives like the Responsibility to Protect and to innocent civilians in Syria. As the world watches, the Syrian government is escalating its war against rebel groups. In an attempt to defeat the rebels, the Assad regime is resorting to the unrestrained pounding of civilian areas. In addition, Syria’s use of air power decisively tilts the advantage in its favor, leading to indiscriminate destruction, where fleeing civilians are often caught in the crosshairs of battle. The U.S. can repair some of its damaged reputation by instituting a no-fly zone in northern Syria. In choosing to follow this course, America would find substantial international support from a cross-section of key allies, making the mission a multi-lateral effort and lending it international legitimacy. A broad coalition of actors,...

Read More

No, the Dollar Is Not Dying

This article is in response to Trevor Whitney's article Is the Dollar Dying? — “In truth, the gold standard is already a barbarous relic.” John Maynard Keynes This year, the Republican Party polished off an idea formerly relegated to the dustbin of history. In its official party platform, the GOP calls for a commission to study the possibility of “a metallic base for U.S. currency” – in other words, a return to the gold standard. The last time a major political party officially endorsed the idea of tying the nation’s currency to a limited, volatile commodity[1] was in 1984. That year, the economy was booming, the dollar was peaking and the dream of a return to the gold standard was in its death throes after President Reagan’s 1982 Gold Commission rejected the idea. The world today looks wholly different, with a struggling economy and an embattled dollar. And the gold standard, once thought dead, has staged something of a comeback. In 2011, a whopping 44 percent of likely voters said they favored a gold standard. Representative Ron Paul has led the charge, (falsely) declaring any monetary system without a metallic base to be unconstitutional[2] and calling for an end to the Federal Reserve’s “debasement” of the dollar. The argument goes something like this: without the gold standard, inflationary policies by unaccountable elites[3] at the Federal Reserve have steadily destroyed...

Read More

Quick Jump