Third Way Perspectives

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Archive for April, 2011

Great Disconnect, Act Two

April 25th, 2011

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What just happened? The mood of the country has suddenly taken a nosedive in the past month.

In the April CBS News-New York Times poll, 70 percent of Americans say the country is off on the wrong track. That’s the highest figure since President Obama took office. The number who say the economy is getting worse jumped from 26 percent in March to 39 percent in April – the highest level of pessimism in two years.

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Misconceptions About Trade Agreements

April 13th, 2011

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This piece was originally published in The Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. and Colombia appear near a deal on a trade agreement. With this deal and others move closer to congressional debate, Ed Gerwin, Senior Fellow for Trade and Global Economic Policy at Third Way, and Jon Cowan, president of Third Way, point to five misconceptions about trade agreements.

Later this year, the Obama administration and Congress will seek bipartisan votes to pass free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. With 87% of global economic growth over the next 5 years taking place outside of the United States, trade supporters believe these agreements will create jobs and prosperity by helping American companies tap into fast-growing export markets.

Opponents disagree. They argue that “NAFTA-style” trade agreements hurt rather than help the U.S. economy — and polls show that much of the public agrees.

But is this conventional wisdom correct? Or do trade deals work? As Washington gears up for hard-edged debates about trade, it’s worth exploring some common misconceptions about free trade agreements.

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The Deficit Primary

April 13th, 2011

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This piece was originally published in Politico.

With today’s address on deficit reduction, President Barack Obama is making a shrewd opening move for his 2012 campaign — laying claim to the political center, challenging Beltway orthodoxies and setting the stage for a possible historic agreement on the budget.

Obama reportedly is set to propose serious entitlement reforms — only three months after 200 progressive groups lobbied the White House to keep Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid off the agenda. Instead, he’s expected to reach out tonight with both hands and grab onto the “third rail” of American politics.

But rather than getting burned, Obama may emerge well positioned for his reelection.

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Reflective Politics

April 4th, 2011

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The U.S. Constitution requires consensus. It divides power between two houses of Congress and three branches of government. They all have to agree.

And if they don’t — like now? It doesn’t work. “You are not going to solve any big problems without some sort of consensus,” former Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei (N.Y.) said. “That means you have to have bipartisans and moderates. Otherwise one side is going to undo what the other side did.”

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