12:48 PM, Dec 18, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Buried in the avalanche of Cuba and North Korea news was this revealing tidbit about the Obama administration's environmental priorities:
The Obama administration will set duties on solar products from China and Taiwan that combined could exceed more than 200 percent, adding fuel to a renewable-energy clash between the U.S. and China.
The Commerce Department also finalized its plan to include in the tariffs any solar panels assembled in China, no matter the origin of the cells.
The department issued final duties on solar cells manufactured in China and Taiwan in a case brought by SolarWorld AG (SWVK), a German company with a factory in Oregon. The U.S. International Trade Commission must rule in the last step before the tariffs are finalized. A decision is due next month.
Now if you believe that climate change is an urgent, nay, eschatological priority, wouldn't you want to encourage as many people as possible to start using solar panels to lessen our dependence on carbon-based energy? How on earth does drastically raising the price of solar panels through government action do that? It doesn't.
Tariffs and duties on cheaper Chinese solar panels do, however, keep more federal subsidies flowing to American alternative energy companies. And those companies spend a fair amount on influence peddling. Note that SolarWorld's annual lobbying expenditures doubled when Obama was up for reelection, and SolarWorld's stock is up a little over 10 percent from yesterday on the heels of the announcement. I don't know if SolarWorld, a German company with a factory in Oregon, is guilty of doing anything more than being on the wrong side of economic history by opposing free trade. I do know that there's a pretty big precedent for solar energy companies getting political favors from the Obama administration.
This late in the Obama administration the name "Solyndra" almost seems quaint. Despite the undeniably scandalous facts surrounding that particular company and its political donations, there was a flurry of stories last month saying that the Department of Energy loan program that enabled Solyndra was actually turning a profit, and liberal journalists took a victory lap. However, the claim the loans were making money turned out to be misleading bunk even though almost no one bothered to correct their previous stories saying otherwise.
I don't doubt the sincerity of many who are sounding the alarm about global warming, even if I do find myself often doubting their facts. I'm more inclined to wonder how cognizant these true believers are that crony capitalists and the Democratic party have turned their cause into a racket. If you believe that alternative energy sources must be adopted as quickly as possible to prevent environmental calamity, what the Obama administration is doing to raise the cost of solar panels is inexcusable. If, on the other hand, you are skeptical of the Obama administration's self-serving priorities, it makes perfect sense.
In China and elsewhere, it’s open season on U.S. corporations. Oct 6, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 04 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
When it comes to military actions, President Obama likes to declare the end of wars, regardless of whether America’s opponents agree that is the case. When it comes to economic wars, he has no need to declare an end, no need for unilateral disarmament, because he never engages in the first place. Indeed, he does all he can to make our adversaries’ task easier by spiking any guns we might have before they can be fired by Congress, his trade union friends, or other aggrieved parties.
On catfish, farmed and wild.Aug 11, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 45 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
There isn’t much left in life that is unregulated and without some degree of government supervision or protection. You get used to it, I suppose. And, anyway, you don’t have much choice. But you do need to pay attention because nothing is off limits.
12:00 AM, Dec 14, 2013 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Free traders are ecstatic. Negotiators at the 9th World Trade Organization ministerial conference in Bali cheered, hugged, and wept at what they see as the successful culmination of their recent round of talks. “A giant step for businesses large and small,” enthused the CEO of UPS.
9:01 AM, Jul 23, 2012 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Peggy Noonan examines the mini-furor over the manufacturing of the U.S. Olympic team's uniforms in ... China. It was, she believes, a missed opportunity to create a sensational political ad:
12:00 AM, Feb 4, 2012 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Some fear America is about to go protectionist. Others fear it won’t. Where you stand on this issue depends on where you sit. Sit in the chair of the CEO of a major exporter, and you fear protectionism and the ever-rising spiral of retaliations. Sit in the chair of the president of a trade union, and you welcome what others call protectionism and you call fair trade. Sit in the chair of a Wal-Mart customer and you fear anything that will drive up prices, putting pressure on your over-stretched budget.
Colombia has become one of the most promising economies in the Western Hemisphere.9:00 AM, Oct 31, 2011 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
On October 21, President Obama signed into law the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement (FTA), thereby giving American exporters greater access to one of South America’s fastest growing markets. The long, tiring debate over the FTA—which began five years ago, when the agreement was first completed—showed that popular perceptions of Colombia are stuck in a time warp. Not only has the country become a much safer and less violent place than it was in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, it has also become one of the most promising economies in the Western Hemisphere.
12:41 PM, Oct 12, 2011 • By MICHAEL WARREN
During Tuesday night’s debate in New Hampshire, moderator Karen Tumulty challenged Mitt Romney on his recent tough talk on China. Romney says China is a “currency manipulator” and argues that, by setting unfair prices and allowing the theft of American intellectual property, the Chinese government is cheating world markets and must be held accountable
1:00 PM, Sep 6, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
For a while now, Obama's been mentioning in speeches that there are free-trade agreements that need to be ratified as away to create jobs and spur growth... while blaming Republicans for the hold up.
4:25 PM, Apr 9, 2011 • By PATRICK CHRISTY
The Obama administration finally announced earlier this week an agreement on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, paving the way for its ratification. The Colombia FTA is long overdue, and President Obama’s change of heart is a welcome step for America and Colombia alike. As the White House notes, American workers will immediately benefit from the agreement:
2:18 PM, Feb 25, 2011 • By PATRICK CHRISTY
Despite high unemployment, the Obama administration has been slow to come up with an effective trade policy. It’s seemingly been trying with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, but its lack of success is startling.
5:00 PM, Feb 11, 2011 • By JOHN NOONAN and PATRICK CHRISTY
It is, in a way, unsurprising that the president gave Bogota a brief nod during his State of the Union address. After all, In 2010 State of the Union address, the president claimed, “we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea and Panama and Colombia.” And, in 2009, President Obama told Colombian president Alvaro Uribe that he was “confident that ultimately we can strike a deal that is good for the people of Colombia and good for the people of the United States.” Yet, no such deal has been struck.
Beijing plays chess; America plays tiddlywinks.Jan 17, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 17 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
China’s president, Hu Jintao, is about to make a state visit to Washington, hard on the heels of a statement by Liang -Guanglie, his defense minister, that “in the next five years our military will push forward preparations for military conflicts in every strategic direction.” Not quite Nikita Khrushchev’s “We will bury you,” but close enough to give President Obama good reason to reset our overall policy towards the Chinese regime, including abandoning the outdated notion that trade is only about economics.
12:50 PM, Nov 15, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
Former Republican presidential candidate John McCain had some sharp words about President Barack Obama’s policy toward Afghanistan earlier today at a conference in Washington.