On May 4, 2009, President Barack Obama began a press conference with a "simple premise." A plan to "crack down on illegal overseas tax evasion, close loopholes and make it more profitable for companies to create jobs here in the United States."
On July 17, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Samantha Power’s nomination to be the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. In order to gain the support of the members of the committee, which it is clear Power did as demonstrated by the committee’s 16-2 vote in her favor, Power disavowed her previous criticism of U.S. foreign policy, ignored President Obama’s own disastrous human rights record and, in the process, undermined her credibility on issues of human rights.
What do the conviction of an activist in Russia, bribed building inspectors in Bangladesh, the Arab revolutions, and the unraveling of Afghanistan have in common? Corruption – a failure that crosses state boundaries and wreaks havoc on economic growth, human opportunity, and security. Sadly, while American politicians give lip service to the scourge of corruption, it has been consigned to the arena of low politics, for program officers and procurement officials, not top leaders.
It’s time to recognize the security threat corruption overseas poses to U.S. interests. That means taking it seriously at the level of high politics, changing bureaucratic policies to improve the ability to fight it, and ending practices in which the U.S. fuels it.
As the United States continues to rebound from one of the worst economic downturns in recent history, there remains a high level of uncertainty that suggests we’re not quite out of the woods yet. To bolster our recovery, President Obama and Congress have rightly looked to foreign trade as a driver of economic growth and jobs. Trade has been a top-of-mind issue lately, with Vice President Joe Biden traveling to India to urge greater economic cooperation, and House and Senate hearings being held to explore the great potential of increased trade.
It’s the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. Its name is dry and dull, but its implications are not.
Differences in Washington abound. But one challenge has unified the Obama Administration, Congress and the business community over the past several weeks: India’s unjustifiable discrimination against U.S. exports, intellectual property, and investment.
After years of frustrating attempts at trying to resolve individual trade problems, such as whether Europe could accept American chickens dipped in a chlorine-tinged bath to kill salmonella, the two largest free internal markets recently launched a very broad trade negotiation to facilitate trade across the Atlantic. As negotiations continue, the main subject will be trying to get standards moving on a more compatible path – we both care about food and automobile safety, so why not work on standards together so that they do not become barriers to each other’s trade? Product standards will be among a few dozen areas for negotiation, as will difficult areas of cross-border data flow and more traditional trade barriers.