Not actually that spooky, we're just in the spirit of the season. Look below for free trade, military public affairs, corporate taxes, and, of course, a stimulus package.
- Globalization behooves multilateralism. In a Carnegie Endowment trade policy paper, Margaret Lay warns of the possible clash between environmental policies and trade agreements in the post-Kyoto future. For example, if the United States wishes to impose a unilateral carbon tariff on, say, China, Chinese producers will simply retaliate and take their business elsewhere. But Lay outlines how nations can act in the interest of both the environment and individual trade, using multilateral efforts to bring reluctant states into the mix. The importance of such a green-free-trade alliance cannot be stressed enough if there is to be a coherent approach to global climate change. -- SW
- Beyond Collateral Damage. The Institute for Policy Studies has released a report surveying the various military public relations policies that have aimed to mask the scale of casualties and destruction in the Iraq war. American journalists in Iraq have been censored by the military, robbed of footage of civilian deaths, required to submit stories "pre-publication review" after embedding, and have been banned from photographing caskets of American soldiers. In the meantime, a number of policies have allowed top-level officials and contractors to operate with legal immunity, use "light footprint" bombing tactics that promote looting and violence, and attack individuals and vehicles indiscriminately based on vague definitions of suspicion without disclosing any numbers on civilian casualties. To top it all off, the military has paid Iraqi journalists to paint a rosy picture of the entire catastrophe. -- ZA
- Putting U.S. Corporate Taxes in Perspective. A report released yesterday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities disabuses us of the notion that U.S. corporate tax rates are uniquely burdensome on companies here. Because the tax code offers corporations generous deductions, credits, and other tax reduction mechanisms, an average U.S. corporation pays only 13.4 percent of its profit in taxes, whereas an average corporation from one of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries pays 16.1 percent of profits in taxes. The report recommends a corporate tax reform that combines a reduced and broadened "revenue-neutral" tax rate with elimination of the more illogical and costly tax breaks. -- DH
- Hey, you got your human rights in my Columbia policy! The Washington Office on Latin America challenges the imminence of a free trade agreement with Colombia in thirty pages that dig into human rights shortcomings and the failures of Plan Colombia, the current manifestation of our Colombia policy. WOLA suggests a new policy: Put the rural poor at the forefront, and engage change agents from within Colombia. The U.S. needs to quit crushing on Uribe and militancy and instead focus more broadly on inclusive governance and labor rights, after which our other goals (free trade, free trade, and free trade) will follow. The report cites UN findings that since Plan Colombia began in 2000, cocaine production has hardly dropped. On the other hand, killings and disappearances have diminished robustly since then; today's rates are a fifth of what they were. Read the report for details on which policy elements WOLA thinks should stay, which should go, and which we'll have to wait for. -- CP
- Detailed stimulation [PDF]. The Economic Policy Institute releases a short brief on what a stimulus package would include; it's got a decent amount of detail and includes the by-now de rigeur Mark Zandi chart on bang-for-buck ratios of different types of spending. The report suggests a total of $175 billion in smart stimulus that includes state aid, infrastructure investment, and pump priming for future work on reform issues like energy independence and green jobs. Some scary facts: Two-thirds of roads are in poor condition, half of all bridges are obsolete or deficient, and sewer infrastructure problems lead to overflows that release 850 billion gallons of raw or partially treated sewage each year. -- TF
-- TAP Staff