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Domestic politics to set US priorities abroad

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Luv Puri

Journalist and author

The US elections scheduled in November are being followed with keen interest across the world. As the political slugfest picks up, though much diluted by the spread of Covid-19, there will be a greater scrutiny of the foreign policy orientations of the two parties.

Foreign policy is never a neat calculus devised by professionals in isolation. The popular sentiment of the citizenry, particularly in a country with robust democratic credentials, weighs heavily on the ruling political party. In this connection, to better understand the future trajectory of the US foreign policy under either of the two parties, one may have to factor in the domestic landscape of the country and how the two parties will potentially respond to the same.

President Trump’s response to the many issues is an affirmation to the perceived views of his core constituency in Red states that seek a more muscular foreign policy. In the same vein, the Democratic Party is not immune to the views of its core vote bank. Take Iran for instance. President Trump terminated the participation of US in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2018, popularly known as the Iran nuclear deal, and has imposed “maximum pressure” sanctions on Iran. A decision was taken to assassinate Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and he justified the assassination on account of alleged immediate security threats facing the country from Iran. Iran is seen by many Americans, particularly citizens of a particular age-group, through the lens of the hostage crisis in 1979. Fifty-two American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days — from November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981. Many attribute the electoral loss of President Jimmy Carter, a Democratic Party leader, to the impact of the hostage crisis. After 1981, no US President dared to engage Iran, fearing that this would be unpopular domestically.

President Trump’s major impulse is to bring back the US troops from foreign lands. The swing states in the Mid-West and other Republican states such as Texas and Southern states are the prime catchment area for the US army and a vast chunk of the US army soldiers serving in the war theatres, including Afghanistan, comes from this area. Early in his tenure, President Obama, who won the critical mid-western states of Ohio and Wisconsin, was determined to bring back the troops from Iraq. He succeeded in doing that in Iraq.

On Afghanistan, the situation proved to be a bit tricky. After initial reservation, President Obama took time to agree to troops surge in 2009. In 2020, the Democratic Party foreign policy mandarins are in a quandary as they know from experience of the need to balance the two equations that is to bring back the troops. On the other hand, they don’t want the Taliban to fill the vacuum. The draft of the 2020 Democratic Party Platform is a reflection of this. It says, “Our war in Afghanistan is the longest war in American history, with the youngest US troops now fighting a war that was launched before they were even born.”

“The Democrats are committed to a durable and inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan that ensures that the al-Qaeda isn’t allowed to reconstitute, the Islamic State (ISIS) isn’t allowed to grow, and the international community can help Afghans safeguard hard-fought gains, especially for women and girls.”

There are other tectonic internal demographic movement shifts taking place within the US. Some of the Southern states like North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia and Florida are at the cusp of becoming Blue. There is a net gain of the Democrats migrating from the North-Eastern states like New York, which are bastions of Democratic Party, to Red States. For instance, the migration is taking place to a liberal oasis like Austin in Texas. There is African-American migration to Atlanta, Georgia. This is referred to as the reverse migration as many African-Americans had originally moved from the South to North-East and the Mid-West from 1920-1970 due to factors such as the introduction of mechanical cotton picker, demand for wartime factory labour and also relatively freer environment for African-Americans. The present move to the South from North-East and Mid-West is on account of a friendly weather, new economic opportunities on account of tech giants and because it’s relatively cheaper to live in.

In the realm of economic trade policies, both parties are sensitive to the concerns of the electorate in swing states of the Mid-West that have a big stake in the future of manufacturing jobs in the US. President Trump’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a reflection of his desire to appeal to the Mid-West electorate. This is not too different from what was finally decided by President Obama after his initial approval of the deal and he then succumbed to the opposition from the Democratic base.

Trump’s protectionism has proved to be tricky in an inter-dependent world. China’s reaction to his protectionist policy led to a trade war as Trump’s core base in the agricultural-dominant economies of the South bore the direct brunt of his protectionist policy. In retaliation to the imposition of high tariffs on Chinese goods, China stopped the import of corn, soybean and other commodities from the southern states like South Carolina. After an escalating trade war of over two years, President Trump had to re-negotiate with China and both sides made compromises to resume trade.

In a summary of staff data obtained by the NBC News, the Biden campaign disclosed that 36 per cent of the senior advisors are people of colour. Many of them will be foreign born or second generation Americans. In contrast, the Trump campaign has about 25 per cent of its senior staff who are people of colour. A diverse team comes with the advantage of a greater personal understanding of foreign policy nuances.

Therefore, one of the important vectors influencing the US foreign policy in the next four years will be the varying domestic impulses that influence the design of policies of the party in power.

Source:- The Tribune India

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Politics

16 MLAs retiring from BC politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation – Saanich News

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As a number of provincial politicians have bowed out of running for re-election ahead of Oct. 24, a national tax reform advocacy group is highlighting the cost of political retirement– to the tune of $20 million – with taxpayers footing the bill.

“While we thank these retiring politicians for their work, taxpayers need to know the huge cost of these gold-plated pensions,” said Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“These pensions simply aren’t affordable for taxpayers. MLAs need to reform their pension plan.”

According to the government, MLA pensions are calculated by taking the highest earning years of the retiring MLAs and factoring in their years of work. The annual pension payments are capped at 70 per cent of the highest earning years.

That means that for every $1 the politicians contribute to their own pension plans, taxpayers pay $4, Sims said.

“It’s time to end these rich pension schemes,” said Sims, adding that MLAs not seeking re-election are allowed to collect the equivalent of their salaries for up to 15 months while they look for new jobs, and they get up to $9,000 if they need skills training.

The federation calculated the expected pensions for 16 retiring MLAs, and determined that former house speaker and BC Liberal MLA Linda Reid is expected to collect the highest per-year amount, roughly $107,000 annually when she turns 65 years old.

Reid, who represented the Richmond South Centre since 1991, is the longest-serving woman in B.C.’s government history.

Other estimated pension totals for MLAs include:

  • Tracy Redies, B.C. Liberal MLA – ineligible due to less than six years in office.
  • Claire Trevena, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
  • Shane Simpson, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
  • Scott Fraser, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
  • Carole James, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $82,000 per year, $2 million lifetime.
  • Michelle Mungall, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $58,000 per year, $1.4 million lifetime.
  • Judy Darcy, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $37,000 per year, $647,000 lifetime.
  • Doug Donaldson, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $58,000 per year, $1.4 million lifetime.
  • Rich Coleman, former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister – estimated $109,000 per year, $2.6 million lifetime.
  • John Yap, former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister – estimated $65,000 per year, $1.5 million lifetime
  • Darryl Plecas, Independent Speaker – estimated $38,000 per year, $714,000 lifetime.
  • Andrew Weaver, former Green Party Leader – estimated $31,000 per year, $764,000 lifetime.
  • Donna Barnett, B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $46,000 per year, $400,000 lifetime.
  • Linda Larson – B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $29,000 per year, $469,000 lifetime.
  • Ralph Sultan, former B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $74,000 per year.
  • Linda Reid, former B.C. Liberal Speaker – estimated $107,000 per year, $2.6 million lifetime.

@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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16 MLAs retiring from BC politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation – Terrace Standard

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As a number of provincial politicians have bowed out of running for re-election ahead of Oct. 24, a national tax reform advocacy group is highlighting the cost of political retirement– to the tune of $20 million – with taxpayers footing the bill.

“While we thank these retiring politicians for their work, taxpayers need to know the huge cost of these gold-plated pensions,” said Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“These pensions simply aren’t affordable for taxpayers. MLAs need to reform their pension plan.”

According to the government, MLA pensions are calculated by taking the highest earning years of the retiring MLAs and factoring in their years of work. The annual pension payments are capped at 70 per cent of the highest earning years.

That means that for every $1 the politicians contribute to their own pension plans, taxpayers pay $4, Sims said.

“It’s time to end these rich pension schemes,” said Sims, adding that MLAs not seeking re-election are allowed to collect the equivalent of their salaries for up to 15 months while they look for new jobs, and they get up to $9,000 if they need skills training.

The federation calculated the expected pensions for 16 retiring MLAs, and determined that former house speaker and BC Liberal MLA Linda Reid is expected to collect the highest per-year amount, roughly $107,000 annually when she turns 65 years old.

Reid, who represented the Richmond South Centre since 1991, is the longest-serving woman in B.C.’s government history.

Other estimated pension totals for MLAs include:

  • Tracy Redies, B.C. Liberal MLA – ineligible due to less than six years in office.
  • Claire Trevena, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
  • Shane Simpson, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
  • Scott Fraser, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
  • Carole James, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $82,000 per year, $2 million lifetime.
  • Michelle Mungall, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $58,000 per year, $1.4 million lifetime.
  • Judy Darcy, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $37,000 per year, $647,000 lifetime.
  • Doug Donaldson, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $58,000 per year, $1.4 million lifetime.
  • Rich Coleman, former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister – estimated $109,000 per year, $2.6 million lifetime.
  • John Yap, former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister – estimated $65,000 per year, $1.5 million lifetime
  • Darryl Plecas, Independent Speaker – estimated $38,000 per year, $714,000 lifetime.
  • Andrew Weaver, former Green Party Leader – estimated $31,000 per year, $764,000 lifetime.
  • Donna Barnett, B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $46,000 per year, $400,000 lifetime.
  • Linda Larson – B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $29,000 per year, $469,000 lifetime.
  • Ralph Sultan, former B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $74,000 per year.
  • Linda Reid, former B.C. Liberal Speaker – estimated $107,000 per year, $2.6 million lifetime.

@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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BC politics

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16 MLAs retiring from BC politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation – Oak Bay News

Published

 on


As a number of provincial politicians have bowed out of running for re-election ahead of Oct. 24, a national tax reform advocacy group is highlighting the cost of political retirement– to the tune of $20 million – with taxpayers footing the bill.

“While we thank these retiring politicians for their work, taxpayers need to know the huge cost of these gold-plated pensions,” said Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“These pensions simply aren’t affordable for taxpayers. MLAs need to reform their pension plan.”

According to the government, MLA pensions are calculated by taking the highest earning years of the retiring MLAs and factoring in their years of work. The annual pension payments are capped at 70 per cent of the highest earning years.

That means that for every $1 the politicians contribute to their own pension plans, taxpayers pay $4, Sims said.

“It’s time to end these rich pension schemes,” said Sims, adding that MLAs not seeking re-election are allowed to collect the equivalent of their salaries for up to 15 months while they look for new jobs, and they get up to $9,000 if they need skills training.

The federation calculated the expected pensions for 16 retiring MLAs, and determined that former house speaker and BC Liberal MLA Linda Reid is expected to collect the highest per-year amount, roughly $107,000 annually when she turns 65 years old.

Reid, who represented the Richmond South Centre since 1991, is the longest-serving woman in B.C.’s government history.

Other estimated pension totals for MLAs include:

  • Tracy Redies, B.C. Liberal MLA – ineligible due to less than six years in office.
  • Claire Trevena, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
  • Shane Simpson, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
  • Scott Fraser, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
  • Carole James, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $82,000 per year, $2 million lifetime.
  • Michelle Mungall, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $58,000 per year, $1.4 million lifetime.
  • Judy Darcy, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $37,000 per year, $647,000 lifetime.
  • Doug Donaldson, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $58,000 per year, $1.4 million lifetime.
  • Rich Coleman, former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister – estimated $109,000 per year, $2.6 million lifetime.
  • John Yap, former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister – estimated $65,000 per year, $1.5 million lifetime
  • Darryl Plecas, Independent Speaker – estimated $38,000 per year, $714,000 lifetime.
  • Andrew Weaver, former Green Party Leader – estimated $31,000 per year, $764,000 lifetime.
  • Donna Barnett, B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $46,000 per year, $400,000 lifetime.
  • Linda Larson – B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $29,000 per year, $469,000 lifetime.
  • Ralph Sultan, former B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $74,000 per year.
  • Linda Reid, former B.C. Liberal Speaker – estimated $107,000 per year, $2.6 million lifetime.

@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BC politics

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