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Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012

'Say anything' Romney pleases China's leaders


By YOSHI TSURUMI
Special to The Japan Times

NEW YORK — Although the presidential campaigns are over, what Republican challenger Mitt Romney said in the first of three debates helped to predict what a President Romney would do at home and abroad.

Romney's "say anything" act against the lackluster President Barack Obama — from job creation and reduction of federal budget deficits to health insurance reform — followed the play book of Benjamin Disraeli, the founder of the modern British Conservative Party: "Politicians use two kinds of lies. One is a barefaced lie and the other is statistics."

Chinese leaders have been anxious to ascertain which presidential candidate espoused the federal government's activist role in creating and protecting new manufacturing activities based on America's technological innovations.

In the 21st century, America's political, economic, technological and military leadership in the world will be determined by the next president's vision for America. Romney impressed Chinese leaders as the captive of the Republican dogma of helping large oil and gas industries, not the globally competitive high-tech manufacturing. America's competitive pressures on China would fade under a President Romney. Despite his "tough on China" slogan, a President Romney would be friendly to Chinese companies searching American high-tech technology and inviting American job-outsourcers.

Obama would abolish $5 billion in annual subsidies to Exxon and other large oil and gas companies in favor of the investment in America's public education and scientific developments. Without such investment, America's manufacturing activities would continue to atrophy. The global competitiveness of American economy would continue to slip.

Romney chided Obama for his $90 billion in subsidies for the new green industry and belittled the $5 billion in subsidies for the mature oil and gas. In reality, however, for over 40 years, the large oil and gas companies have been receiving at least a $5 billion yearly subsidy. Obama's $90 billion is the total fund size supporting the innovative startups of the emerging green industries upon which America's energy independence depends. Exxon and other large oil and gas companies do not need subsidies any longer.

Then, Romney brought up the solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, which went bankrupt a year ago and defaulted on a $535 million federal loan.

To Republicans, Solyndra has become the poster child of the alleged failure of Obama's clean energy industrial policy. They have alleged that the Solyndra subsidy was a political payoff to the Obama campaign of 2008. In fact, it was the George W. Bush administration that initiated Solyndra's federal subsidy.

Let's get the facts straight. Solyndra built its Silicon Valley factory on time and on budget, creating 6,000 construction jobs and 1,800 permanent jobs. It was well on its way to a profitable new manufacturing operation. In the U.S., solar installations have soared 600 percent. Obama's stimulus has jump-started the smart electric grid and created a new domestic battery industry for electric vehicles. Unfortunately, Solyndra and other solar panel manufacturers succumbed to the predatory dumping onslaught of Chinese imports, which are based on ill-gotten American, Japanese and German technologies.

A Republican financier of Solyndra found that Solyndra's world's largest wind farm, a half dozen of the world's largest solar farms and America's first cellulosic biofuel refiners are today doing just fine. It was the unfair global market competition that picked the winners and losers of Solyndra's portfolio.

Of late, Obama has slapped hefty import tariffs on Chinese solar panels to protect America's budding clean energy industries.

American history teaches us that the United States has become the world's leader by "built together" business-government cooperation, not by Romney's "we-have-done-it-alone" self-made myth.

On the basis of World War II era's "built together" industrial and technological developments, President John F. Kennedy's "moon shot" initiatives have spawned the space and new high-tech industries. They are sustaining us today.

In 2009, Romney opposed Obama's rescue of Detroit. He predicted that "a Detroit bailout would mean death to the American auto industry." Today Detroit is standing on its own and is continuing to expand automotive jobs in America.

Yoshi Tsurumi is professor of International Business, Baruch College, the City University of New York and the author of "Global Management."


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