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Halloween: John Locke vs the zombie apocalypse | In 60 Seconds - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 12:00

It happens all the time in zombie fiction: The heroes kill the zombies even when the zombies aren’t an immediate threat. So is it okay to preemptively kill a zombie? AEI’s Jonah Goldberg turns to philosopher John Locke for the answer to the question that has surely plagued the consciences of generations of zombie hunters.

The Pittsburgh massacre wasn’t Trump’s fault, but he’s not helping - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 10:30

The debate over whether or not President Trump encouraged the man who set out to slaughter Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh really isn’t a debate at all. It’s a shouting match.

“Yes, he did!”

“No, he didn’t!”

And it will likely only make things worse, as each side grows increasingly deaf to its own heated rhetoric and ever more furious at the other’s.

Here’s a better question: Is Trump helping?

The answer is obviously no — and that’s bad enough.

Let us stipulate that the pro-Israel father of Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism when she married Jared Kushner, is not “literally Hitler.” But let’s also stipulate that there’s something about Trump and his MAGA nationalism that’s been, and remains, very attractive to bigots. This doesn’t mean that everyone who jumped aboard the Trump train is a bigot. Far from it. But it is simply true that some who did are bigots, and Trump and his team have been dismayingly unconcerned about this fact.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stand with Rabbi Jeffrey Myers as they place stones on a Star of David at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue in the wake of the shooting at the synagogue where 11 people were killed and six people were wounded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 30, 2018. Reuters

I have some personal experience here. When the alt-right rallied to Trump starting in 2015, I was one of their targets. I was besieged with anti-Semitic filth. I ranked sixth on the Anti-Defamation League’s list of targeted Jewish journalists. Once, when I mentioned that my brother had died, I was pelted with “jokes” asking if he’d been turned into soap or a lampshade.

While the attacks shocked me, I was more dismayed by how little many fellow conservatives seemed to care about the entire phenomenon. This was back when Steve Bannon — later the Trump campaign’s CEO and eventually the president’s senior adviser — still wanted Breitbart.com to be a “platform” for the alt-right.

The best defense of Trump at the time was ignorance and, ironically, bigotry — toward Republicans. A lifelong New York Democrat, Trump had no real understanding of what traditional conservatives and Republicans believed. In 2000, when he vied for the Reform party’s presidential nomination, he said he was trying to keep bigots from taking over the party. “He’s obviously been having a love affair with Adolf Hitler,” Trump said of opponent Patrick Buchanan. Trump’s dream running mate: Oprah.

In 2016, after years of cultivating support for his birtherism, Trump still believed many of the liberal stereotypes of the GOP as a hothouse of bigotry. That’s why he struggled to repudiate David Duke and let Putin’s and the alt-right’s racist troll armies fight in his name. Trump thought he needed them.

Trump is even more ignorant about how to be presidential. He’s the first president who doesn’t even know how to pretend to be a unifying figure, at least for longer than it takes to read a statement. Instead, he’s enraptured by the rapture of his base, feeding them red meat, dog whistles, and cultural wedge issues — anything to keep all of the attention, negative or positive, on him. He often says it would be “so easy to be presidential” but, as he said at a Pennsylvania rally in March, “You’d all be out of here right now, you’d be so bored.” Why try to unify the country if the price is a little less applause and attention?

This dynamic has had a transformative effect on Trump, his base — and his opponents. Trump long resisted calling himself a “nationalist,” fearing it was kooky Bannon stuff. Now he embraces it, heedless of its implications to others not already on his team. The media has gone from being biased (it is), to being “fake” (it’s not), to being the “enemy of the people” and tantamount to a fifth column.

Many in the Trumpified right-wing media amplify and reinforce all of this because they, too, are addicted to the same base.

Amid the mail-bomb scare last week Trump tweeted about how unfair it is that CNN can criticize him “yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, ‘It’s just not Presidential!’” The false equivalence is lost on him and on his biggest defenders. CNN isn’t the president. It’s in a different lane. And while some of its coverage is worthy of criticism, it isn’t — or shouldn’t be — a warrant for Trump to leave his lane.

I don’t think Trump deliberately encouraged the slaughter in Pittsburgh. But every day he fuels a sense of chaos, a feeling that none of the norms or rules apply anymore. And that is bad enough. It certainly isn’t helping. The president is supposed to at least try.

Overcoming Lifeline’s paternalism to empower low-income consumers - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 10:00

Over the past several years, the Federal Communications Commission has brought sweeping changes to Lifeline, the telecommunications aid program for low-income households. These changes are designed to shift the program’s focus from telephone service to broadband service. Although few would question the need to narrow the digital divide, many (including me) have criticized the way the commission has chosen to do so. This blog post focuses on one oft-overlooked aspect of the Lifeline transition: the paternalism inherent in the decision to phase out voice-only service as an option for Lifeline recipients.

via Twenty20.

Lifeline and voice service: A complicated, messy breakup

Traditionally, Lifeline offered a $9.25 monthly subsidy toward the telephone bills of eligible households. This subsidy can be used toward landline or, since 2008, wireless voice service. Recognizing that “the internet has become a prerequisite to full and meaningful participation in society,” a 2016 order allowed Lifeline recipients to use their subsidy toward a purchase of broadband instead of voice service. It also established a gradual phase out of the voice subsidy:  Beginning in December 2019, recipients on voice-only plans will receive only $7.25 monthly, and that figure will fall to $5.25 per month in December 2020. On December 1, 2021, the program will no longer support voice-only service: Lifeline-eligible plans can include voice service only if they also include broadband service as well.

The commission’s decision to expand low-income aid to broadband access makes sense. As more of our daily activities move online, an increasing number of low-income households are at risk of being left on the wrong side of the digital divide. While I’ve questioned whether $9.25 monthly is enough to help these families get online, expanding into broadband is unquestionably a pro-consumer move, as it increases the number of options available for Lifeline-eligible households to meet their telecommunications needs.

Unfortunately, the phaseout of voice-only plans has the opposite effect: It decreases consumer choice and may ultimately reduce the effectiveness of the Lifeline program. The existing Lifeline support for voice service is incredibly popular among Lifeline families, in part because wireless companies (who receive up to 85 percent of Lifeline disbursements) have figured out how to offer Lifeline-eligible voice plans at little or no out-of-pocket cost to eligible households. Replacing this stand-alone voice service with a presumably more expensive bundled voice/broadband offering, while holding the amount of the subsidy constant, is likely to increase consumers’ out-of-pocket costs and may reduce Lifeline participation rates.

The phaseout of voice-only service reflects the commission’s view that low-income households should look forward to broadband networks, rather than backward to telephone networks, to meet their telecommunications needs. While the agency is free to decide which platforms are worth subsidizing, this paternalism does a disservice to low-income consumers.

A recent Pew Research Center study on broadband adoption found that a majority of households that have never purchased broadband access say they are unlikely to do so at any price. One can imagine a variety of potential consumer profiles within this group — for example, impoverished senior citizens who lack interest in internet access but who value basic mobile telephone service to communicate easily with family and friends, or families with little disposable income that cannot afford to pay the out-of-pocket component for a discounted broadband plan but appreciate Lifeline’s offer of a free wireless voice plan for basic communication and emergencies. The imposition of one-size-fits-all broadband standards on Lifeline recipients fails to meet the needs of these niche populations within the Lifeline community.

Empowering low-income consumers

The overarching goal of the low-income subsidy should be consumer empowerment. The primary difficulty facing low-income consumers is lack of purchasing power. The subsidy should narrow the purchasing power gap while preserving, as much as possible, the ability to choose among a variety of options in the telecommunications marketplace. To achieve this goal, any subsidy should be competitively neutral, direct, and portable. Indeed, the Obama administration recommended that Lifeline adopt these principles to “ensure that low-income Americans can seize the opportunities of the Digital Age.” A more market-based approach would improve competition by increasing the base of consumers for whom companies compete while avoiding the paternalism of the current reform’s one-size-fits-all approach.

I have suggested that one solution could be a voucher issued directly to eligible households, set at an amount sufficient to make a basic broadband plan affordable, but which the household could use toward a subsidized basic broadband plan, or to cover all or nearly all of the cost of a (presumably less expensive) voice-only plan, or as a credit toward a larger package of telecommunications services. TracFone, a leading Lifeline service provider, made a similar proposal to the commission last month, suggesting that Lifeline offer a certain number of “units” that Lifeline recipients can use to purchase voice minutes, broadband data, or a combination of the two. Both proposals get at the same purpose: to give low-income consumers options and allow them to choose a plan that best fits their needs — needs that may differ from household to household.

The 2016 order slowly squeezes Lifeline households into a small subset of plans that the agency has deemed appropriate. As the commission has noted in other contexts, this effort to pick winners and losers can distort competition. It also risks squeezing households whose needs are not well met by the set of options the commission has chosen out of the program. The commission should instead recognize that the best way to serve low-income households is to give them the means to participate fully in the telecommunications marketplace and trust them to choose which options best suit their needs.

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Ep. 117: Adrian Wooldrige on ‘Capitalism in America: A History’ — Political Economy with James Pethokoukis - Ep. 117: Adrian Wooldrige on 'Capitalism in America: A History' - Political Economy with James Pethokoukis - AEI

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 20:30

Imagine the elites of China, Turkey, Britain, and all the other great powers of the day meeting in Davos in 1600 to discuss who among them would emerge as the world’s greatest economic power over the next few centuries. None would have even considered North America, and yet it is the United States that today produces the plurality of world GDP with less than 5 percent of the world’s population. How did that happen? In the excellent new book “Capitalism in America: A History” Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge provide the answer.

Adrian recently joined me on the show to discuss his book, American and world economic history more broadly, and the lessons voters and policymakers should draw today. Adrian Wooldridge is the political editor and Bagehot columnist at The Economist and the author of “Measuring the Mind: Education and Psychology in England, 1860–1990.” You can follow him on Twitter @adwooldridge.

You can download the episode by clicking the link above, and don’t forget to subscribe to my podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. Tell your friends, leave a review

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The most high-stakes midterm election in recent memory - Ep. 117: Adrian Wooldrige on 'Capitalism in America: A History' - Political Economy with James Pethokoukis - AEI

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 18:36

One week out and the uncertainties in the election are many, although the fundamentals are still, well, fundamental. Tops on the uncertainty front? The horrible series of events of the past week, which could mean more unforeseen events in the coming week. And those could cut either way.

We do know Donald Trump is trying desperately to dominate and change the frame of the election to his go-to issue, immigration. The jarring PR stunt of sending thousands of American troops to the Mexican border to block a caravan that is almost 1,000 miles away, consisting largely of women and children fleeing gun violence in Honduras and seeking asylum in the United States (something protected under international law), is the major sign; the declaration that he will flout the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and ban birthright citizenship is another. No doubt there will be more. His efforts have been reinforced by House Republican leaders like Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan (via his SuperPac) and by many candidates.

US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) leads Democratic members of Congress, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (L), during their “Better Deal” platform rally at the US Capitol in Washington, US May 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Those efforts, amplified by Fox and talk radio warnings of pestilence and crime by the caravan, could make a difference in turnout in red states and districts. But the Democrats’ substantial funding, and continued focus on health care and pre-existing conditions, along with the evidence in approval ratings that Trump’s response to the Florida bomb scares has hurt him, leave Democrats in a strong position to win a majority in the House. David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, perhaps the best analyst of House elections at both micro and macro levels, notes that there are a stunning 99 House seats in some level of play, far more than there were in 2014, the last wave midterm. And at the micro level, if Democrats simply split the seats that are in the tossup category — which, given past waves, would be a deeply disappointing outcome for them — they would still have a majority.

The Senate, of course, is a different matter. Here, the Trump and Republican efforts to gin up turnout could make a difference in several red states where Democratic incumbents are trying to hold on — places like North Dakota, Montana, Indiana, and Missouri, and in a state like Tennessee where Democrat Phil Bredesen is trying to take Republican Bob Corker’s open seat. Democrats still have chances to pick up red Senate seats in Nevada, Arizona, and Texas, where Ted Cruz’s lead appears to be shrinking some. And the hurricane on the Florida Panhandle, a Republican area, followed by another FEMA debacle, could add to Bill Nelson’s chances of retaining his seat. But the map suggests that Democrats are more likely to lose a seat or two net than to pick up a net gain.

Just as interesting and also quite important are the state races, both for governor and offices like secretary of state. Here, the map and numbers favor Democrats and the net gains could be substantial. The two gubernatorial contests being watched most closely, of course, are Florida and Georgia: African-American Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum and African-American longtime state legislative leader Stacey Abrams would make history if elected. In Georgia, the big question is whether Republican nominee Brian Kemp, the top election official in the state, can get away with blatant voter suppression aimed at African-Americans. The same question actually faced Kansas, where Republican Kris Kobach, the veteran Secretary of State chastised by the courts for voter suppression, has been repudiated by prominent Republicans like longtime Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum. There, a tossup race has been muddied by election chicanery from Kobach allies.

Add in the substantial number of state legislative chambers either up for grabs, or where veto-proof majorities could be erased, and Election Day next Tuesday will have more interesting and important races at stake than any I can remember.

Join the AEI Election Watch team on November 8 for lunch to discuss what happened and what it means. Click here for details.

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A Space Force on the launch pad? - Ep. 117: Adrian Wooldrige on 'Capitalism in America: A History' - Political Economy with James Pethokoukis - AEI

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 18:04

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence addressed the fourth meeting of the National Space Council, a White House advisory group charged with making recommendations about America’s activities in space. This summer, President Trump called for the establishment of a new branch of the military, a US Space Force, to protect American interests there. Thus far, only a few pollsters have explored the public’s awareness of the plan and support for it.

To understand current attitudes, it helps to look at how Americans have viewed space exploration over time. In 1955, when Gallup asked Americans whether “men in rockets will be able to reach the moon” in the next 50 years, 38% said they would, but 51% said they would not. A few years later in 1961, 65% approved of the country’s attempt to send a man into space, while 20% disapproved.

Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin laughs at a joke told by President Donald Trump as President Trump addresses a meeting of the National Space Council in the East Room of the White House in Washington, June 18, 2018. Reuters

On the 40th anniversary of the moon landing in 2009, 58% of Americans told Gallup that the space program had “brought enough benefits to this country to justify its costs,” while 38% disagreed. In the poll, support for increasing or keeping space program spending at its present level was 60%, one of the lower readings on this question which Gallup asked for the first time in 1984. NASA got high marks from those Gallup surveyed; 58% said the agency was doing an excellent or good job.

Pew Research Center survey from 2018 found that 65% thought it was essential for NASA to continue to be involved in space exploration while a third felt private companies could ensure progress. Seventy-two percent also said it was essential for the US to continue to be a world leader in space exploration.

Except for momentous events such as the moon landing, the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, or landing a robotic explorer on Mars, most Americans have been inattentive to news from NASA, and generally more supportive of space exploration than space expenditures.

This summary provides some context for a handful of new questions about President Trump’s proposal to create a Space Force. The Space Force would not be a part of NASA, but a sixth branch of the military. In a speech about it, Vice President Pence described space as “once peaceful and uncontested . . .  now crowded and adversarial.”

It isn’t clear how much attention Americans have paid to the activities or capabilities of our adversaries in space but at this point they don’t see them as an imminent threat. When asked how much of a threat a potential conflict in space was to our national security, 23% of registered voters in an early August online Morning Consult/Politico poll described it as major, 28% minor, and 23% not a threat. In an online Economist/YouGov poll, 10% said foreign countries’ space programs pose an immediate and serious threat to our space-based assets and 29% a somewhat serious threat. Twenty-three percent described their programs as a minor threat and 16% not a threat.

People aren’t very knowledgeable about the Space Force yet. In the Morning Consult poll, 30% of registered voters said they had seen, read, or heard nothing at all about it in the past two weeks and other 23% had heard not too much. Only 13% had heard a lot about it. In an Economist/YouGov poll, 26% had heard nothing about the administration’s plan to create a new branch of the armed forces called a Space Force.

Most polls thus far show more skepticism than support, with many people without an opinion at this time. In the Economist/YouGov poll, 38% agreed that the US needs a new branch of the military solely dedicated to protecting American space-based assets, while 42% disagreed. Thirty-six percent approved of a new Space Force and 42% disapproved. In an August CNN question, when people were told that the US assets in space are currently protected by the Air Force, 37% said the US should establish a new branch of the military designated to protect US space assets, but 55% said we should not. Another online survey of registered voters from the Hill TV and HarrisX that emphasized protecting US interests in space produced a different result: 57% approved of “creating a sixth branch of the military, the Space Force, which would be designed to protect U.S. interests and assets in space.”

Americans haven’t focused on President Trump’s proposal to create a Space Force, and different question wording pulls them in different directions. It is premature to know how their opinions will solidify.

Central American migrant caravan | In 60 Seconds - Ep. 117: Adrian Wooldrige on 'Capitalism in America: A History' - Political Economy with James Pethokoukis - AEI

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 17:55

AEI Visiting Fellow Roger Noriega argues that the Central American migrant caravan exploits desperate people and undermines US programs that help build a more secure and stable region.

The Italian economy is on a short fuse - Ep. 117: Adrian Wooldrige on 'Capitalism in America: A History' - Political Economy with James Pethokoukis - AEI

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 15:55

This morning’s dismal Italian GDP numbers are bound to complicate efforts to strike a compromise between Italy and the European Commission on that country’s difficult budget issue. This does not bode well for either the Italian or the global economies in the months immediately ahead.

According to data released for the third quarter of 2018, the Italian economy has again stagnated. This is a far cry from the 1.5 percent economic growth for 2019 on which the Italian draft budget has been premised. It is also an indication of how political uncertainty and rising interest rates are damaging the Italian economy. That in turn raises the real risk that Italy could experience its fourth economic recession in a decade.

Brussels is bound to take the weak Italian GDP numbers as a confirmation of its view that the Italian budget has been premised on highly unrealistic economic growth assumptions and that the country’s budget deficit is more likely to exceed 3 percent of GDP than turn out to be the 2.4 percent of GDP being projected by the Italian government. That in turn is bound to strengthen Brussels’ resolve not to approve the Italian budget. Rather Brussels is more than likely to insist that Italy must adopt additional austerity measures to keep its budget deficit and public debt under control.

For its part the Italian government is all too likely to view the weak GDP numbers as a validation of its view that the Italian economy is in urgent need of a fiscal stimulus. This makes it highly improbable that the Italian government will accede to Brussels’ demand that it revise its budget.  Rather, the Italian government will stick to its refrain that it was elected not to meet the demands from Brussels but to respond to the needs of its electorate.

Needless to add, a protracted standoff between Brussels and Rome over the budget issue is the last thing that a stagnating Italian economy now needs. This is especially the case considering the very high level of the country’s public debt to GDP ratio and the shaky condition of its banks which make faster economic growth of the essence.

Sadly, there is the all-too-real risk that renewed political uncertainty will cause Italian interest rates to rise further and its economy to slow. That in turn risks tipping the Italian economy into a downward spiral as more questions begin to be raised about the sustainability of Italy’s public debt, the soundness of the Italian banks, and the Italian government’s long-run commitment to the Euro. For which reason, for the sake of Italy and the global economy, one has to hope that somehow a compromise is found soon between Brussels and Rome on the Italian budget issue.

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Voters care less about education this year than reports suggest - Ep. 117: Adrian Wooldrige on 'Capitalism in America: A History' - Political Economy with James Pethokoukis - AEI

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 14:15

On the cusp of next week’s midterms, a slew of media outlets have suggested that education will play an outsized role in determining the results. “Education is a top issue in midterms,” an NPR headline announced recently. The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss noted that while education has never been voters’ top priority, “things seem different this year.” A Time magazine article asserted that “All across America, public anger over education funding has scrambled the political map for November” and that education issues have “changed the face of the midterm elections.”

Thousands of teachers rally to demand higher pay and increased education spending in Raleigh, North Carolina, US, May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Marti Maguire

This hype is understandable, given the attention generated by this spring’s teacher strikes. The only problem? There’s little, other than journalists’ understandable enthusiasm for a fresh angle, to suggest that education will drive voter decisions — especially in a polarized election cycle dominated by anti-Trump sentiment, a humming economy, and the Kavanaugh aftermath. Indeed, the October 2018 Gallup poll found that voters ranked education as their 12th-most important issue, with just 2 percent naming education as the most important problem facing the country today.

Those numbers ought not to surprise; they’re par for the course. In the lead-up to the 2016 election, no more than 5 percent of voters identified education as the most important issue. In 2012, the figure was 4 percent, in 2008, 1 percent, and in 2004, 2 percent. Similarly, education’s ranking during that time period remained reasonably constant, hovering between the ninth and 15th most important issues to voters. If anything, in 2018, interest in education looks to be on the average-to-low side.

Look, these numbers make sense. People care deeply about their schools, but when choosing statewide officeholders or thinking about national issues, it turns out their votes are shaped more by debates over jobs, health care, and social value questions than by school spending levels. Now, it’s a safe bet that education will play a significant role in some gubernatorial and local races, but that’s a long ways from it “chang[ing] the face of the midterm elections.”

See also:

The Femsplainers Podcast: Moms to the rescue - Ep. 117: Adrian Wooldrige on 'Capitalism in America: A History' - Political Economy with James Pethokoukis - AEI

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 14:10

The majority of Americans agree on gun control measures that will prevent massacres and respect the 2nd Amendment. Shannon Watts tells us why it will be mothers who will turn the tide in this deadly debate. Guest Femsplainer Meghan Cox Gurdon joins Danielle in this timely pre-election interview.

Trump’s defense buildup is as real as the wall - Ep. 117: Adrian Wooldrige on 'Capitalism in America: A History' - Political Economy with James Pethokoukis - AEI

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 13:04

It’s often reported that President Trump does not have the longest attention span. Apparently, that now applies to his pledge to a “great rebuilding of the Armed Forces” as well. After a goodly increase in defense spending this past year and another increase this coming year, the Pentagon has announced that at the instruction of Mick Mulvaney, the head of the Office of Management and Budget, that the White House wants the Defense Department budget now being prepared for Fiscal Year 2020 to be cut from the planned $733 billion to $700 billion.

US sailors maneuver a rigid-hull inflatable boat alongside the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) while participating in visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) training during Exercise Bright Star 2018 in the Mediterranean Sea 9/10/18. Department of Defense | Flickr

Now $700 billion sounds like a lot, and is a lot—until you start putting that number in context.

To start, as I wrote here just a few months ago, while the increase in defense spending was certainly welcome and needed—especially to address the crisis in readiness that was crippling the services—in inflation-adjusted dollars, the two-year increase left defense spending at just about what it had been in 2011. And it was that defense budget, and the forces it could support, that finally moved the Pentagon to admit in its January 2012 Defense Policy Guidance that the American military could no longer handle more than one major conflict at a time. In short, it could be dominant in one theater but not in two, a strategic step-back from what had been a constant in American military planning since World War II.

The Obama national security team was satisfied with this situation because it told itself that there were no threats on the European front, and that the plan was to wind down the U.S. military’s combat role in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Obviously, neither of those things still holds true—except that the American military remains basically the same size and, with a few exceptions, is still fielding the same equipment. Only now it’s even older.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to see how this budget is consonant with the administration’s own national security and defense strategies that call for competing with revisionist powers China and Russia, maintaining the fight against Islamist terrorists, and dealing with the rogue regimes of Iran and North Korea. Needless to say, candidate Trump’s pledge to build a navy of 350 ships, field fighter fleet of 1,200 advanced fighters, and add tens of thousands to the Army and Marine Corps is now out of the question.

Of course, the Trump White House was never really serious about rebuilding the American military or, if they were, they were clueless about what it would require in resources. The president’s first attempt at a budget saw defense spending increase by a scant 3 percent. And while defense discretionary spending has been bumped up by $82 billion since 2017, the president’s own projections for subsequent budgets were to remain largely flat or, with inflation, slightly decline. This was even before the latest mandated reduction in planned spending.

At $700 billion, the Pentagon will be able, over the short term, to address some obvious readiness problems. But the answer to the question of how long it will be able to sustain that fix given operational rates and aging equipment is: not long at all. Moreover, this level of spending won’t allow the Pentagon to adequately address the problem of recapitalizing the military’s conventional and strategic forces.

Since the early 1990s, administration after administration has failed to replace planes, ships, vehicles, and strategic weapons at a pace necessary to keep the military’s forces equipped with effective, modern platforms and systems. First, it was the Cold War “peace dividend” and the “procurement holiday” of the 1990s; then it was the costs of the post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that drove spending toward operations and away from updating forces; and finally, it was the bipartisan suicide pact of the Budget Control Act that mandated such severe cuts to government discretionary spending that buying new equipment on the scale necessary was out of the question. And, now, with the current spending levels being put forward by the administration, it will be impossible to carry out what new procurement plans the individual services have just begun to put in place. Add in the costs of creating a new Space Force, putting missile defense programs on a more robust path, and the continuing need to bolster cyber and satellite defenses and one can’t imagine how this strategic circle is to be squared.

Many of the things that members of Congress complain about are tied to things that the president alone does. However, proposing and then authorizing budgets to fund the military is a product of the two political branches. Trump can only succeed in hollowing out the military’s capabilities if Congress agrees.

The country has been lucky that we’ve faced no near-peer military competitor in decades. For their reputation in the history books, both administration officials and members of the House and Senate better hope that this remains the case for years to come because the U.S. military is short of what it needs to confidently win a conflict today and appears headed toward an even riskier state in the decade ahead.

Related reading:

More changes to Patent Office procedures will benefit patent owners further - Ep. 117: Adrian Wooldrige on 'Capitalism in America: A History' - Political Economy with James Pethokoukis - AEI

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 10:00

Andrei Iancu, the director of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), continues to make waves in the intellectual property world, most recently with last week’s announcement regarding claim amendments that will make life a bit easier for patent owners.

via Twenty20.

As explained in this space, the 2011 America Invents Act (AIA) established proceedings within the Patent Office enabling easier, cheaper, and faster challenges to patent validity before a newly constituted Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB). Since those PTAB trials came into effect, tens of thousands of patent claims have been wiped out, prompting a backlash from the life sciences industry, universities and research institutions, and other sectors that rely heavily on patents.

One result of this backlash was Director Iancu’s decision to tighten Patent Office proceedings standards for “claim construction,” or the manner of translating patent claim language into plain English. As reported two weeks ago, those new tighter standards will take effect next month.

On the heels of this change, which Director Iancu discussed during his keynote address at AEI back in June, the Patent Office last week announced a new proposal to make it easier to amend claims during PTAB proceedings to avoid having them invalidated.

Currently, according to Iancu, only 10 percent of patent owners whose claims are challenged in Patent Office trials elect to amend their claims, and only 10 percent of those amendment motions are granted by the PTAB.

In remarks at the annual American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) meeting, Director Iancu noted that the “current amendment process in AIA proceedings is not working as intended,” citing a recent Federal Circuit Court of Appeals case declaring that “patent owners largely have been prevented from amending claims in the context of” PTAB trials. Iancu even entertained the possibility that “parties have simply stopped even trying to amend the claims because they see the effort as largely futile.”

Thus, he said, “in order to ensure balance, consistency and transparency, in order to increase confidence in the proceedings, and in order to make the patent system as a whole more effective, more efficient and more reliable,” the Patent Office will propose new rules to help “find a way to make this amendment process feasible and meaningful,” including by “allow[ing] the patent owner a meaningful opportunity to draft narrower claims.”

The specific proposal Iancu outlined would give patent owners six weeks to propose an amendment, after which the patent challenger would have another six weeks to oppose the amendment. The Patent Office would then issue a preliminary opinion on the proposed amendment within one month of the challenger’s opposition, thereby providing the patent owner one more opportunity to further revise the claims in a manner satisfactory to the USPTO (and a corresponding further opportunity for the challenger to oppose the further revisions).

Iancu believes that this new procedure will yield “more narrowly-tailored and focused claim amendments, and potential earlier resolution of the issues.” The proposal seems sensible, but a definitive assessment will have to await publication of the actual draft language.

Still, hailing “a new day at the PTAB!” (exclamation mark in the original prepared remarks), the director told the AIPLA conferees that “I firmly believe that this combination brings more balance to the proceedings, and better aligns them with the original intent of the AIA legislation.” Whether this proves true remains to be decided, but the new director deserves plaudits for his strenuous efforts to improve the process.

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Politicized law enforcement and the ExxonMobil white whale - Ep. 117: Adrian Wooldrige on 'Capitalism in America: A History' - Political Economy with James Pethokoukis - AEI

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 22:30

The latest lawsuit against ExxonMobil (EM), filed by Acting New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood, is straightforward:

  • EM uses one general “proxy cost” for the costs of prospective greenhouse gas (GHG) policies averaged over the entire firm’s worldwide operations.
  • EM uses different GHG proxy costs for specific projects in particular locales.
  • Therefore, EM is misleading investors by maintaining, figuratively, two (or perhaps multiple) sets of books.

Got that? Underwood actually is arguing that EM should not concern itself — or its investors — with (1) the aggregate effect of GHG policies on prospective worldwide demand conditions for its energy products, and (2) the costs of the specific GHG policies applicable in given locations as it evaluates the business-case analytics of projects in particular nations. And by doing both, EM is engaged in “fraud.” This literally is like saying that a delivery company is engaged in fraud if it uses an average fuel cost for evaluation of its worldwide operations but a specific fuel price for evaluation of its costs in a specific nation with, say, high taxes on motor fuels.

A sign is seen at the entrance of the Exxonmobil Port Allen Lubricants Plant in Port Allen, Louisiana, November 6, 2015. Reuters

Underwood has made this “fraud” allegation in the context of New York’s Martin Act, which is aimed at material misrepresentations. Nowhere in her complaint does she point to an actual purported misrepresentation. Instead, the complaint continually offers arguments about appropriate accounting standards, without claiming that EM violated the actual accounting standards that now govern corporate bookkeeping.

Even if we assume solely for discussion purposes that those existing standards are inadequate or in need of reform: Is litigation the proper vehicle for that? Or would it not be better if a board charged with establishing such standards were to undertake that task in the context of public testimony by experts?

In a larger context, Underwood’s “fraud” stance is irrelevant in the context of investor behavior. Does she believe that investors as a class are stupid? The cost of GHG policies, whether as an international average or as estimated for given projects in specific locales, are useful for planning and for decisions on specific investments, but they are likely to be largely irrelevant for investors because there is no reason that marginal investors cannot see beyond them. Suppose that EM assumed a future GHG policy cost of $1 million per ton; would the market believe that? That is why EM’s choices among a high figure, a low figure, a single figure, or multiple ones in different contexts are irrelevant. No one is being “defrauded.”

Let us take a step back: Virtually every state attorney general sees in the mirror a future governor or senator or — even a president. Accordingly, Underwood is hardly the first state attorney general to perceive political benefits from pursuing EM. Before Underwood there was then-New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who for almost three years pursued EM, the great white whale of political pole climbing.

First, there was his argument that the firm had misled investors by downplaying the risks of anthropogenic climate change in order to prop up the value of its shares. In a nutshell, Schneiderman asserted that EM knew back in the 1970s that anthropogenic climate change was destined to create a future crisis. (That was unknown then and remains unknown today.)

Accordingly, Schneiderman argued, EM knew that the world will turn away from fossil fuels (nope) and therefore that it knowingly was overestimating the value of its fossil-fuel reserves. Schneiderman’s argument actually was worse than just summarized: Under clear regulations from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the value of reserves must be estimated using average oil prices for the previous year.

Schneiderman then tried to make the opposite argument. EM in its planning analyses used two different figures for the future cost of climate regulations: a public figure of $60 per ton of GHG for projects in the advanced economies, but only $40 in its internal analyses. In other words, EM, instead of trying to prop up its share value as asserted earlier, tried this time to put downward pressure on it. Well, which was it?

Note also that EM, like other private entities with large capital investments, is a long-lived entity with powerful incentives to protect its credibility. Underwood has not explained how EM benefits over the longer term by publishing false or multiple estimates of hypothetical future GHG costs. Even in the extreme case in which EM “knows” what future GHG policies will be, but has misled others, it would not be long before market participants understood that reality. Because those observers’ beliefs about future GHG policies would vary, there would be a statistical distribution of such beliefs. Market participants would know that EM might not be telling the truth, so the effect would be to shift the entire distribution of beliefs about EM’s value to the left. The market in effect would hedge against the possibility of being misled.

Future GHG policies and their costs are far less obvious than Underwood pretends. What is obvious is that she, like Schneiderman before, has decided to attack a firm that is not popular politically. That is not the way law enforcement is supposed to work in a constitutional republic governed by the rule of law. Instead of picking an unpopular target and then trying to find a way to convict it of something, prosecutors are supposed to wait until evidence emerges of an actual crime, after which sufficient evidence to demonstrate probable cause must be marshalled against a specific suspect, who then is afforded a legal presumption of innocence until convicted in a court of law governed by the rules of due process. That is how freedom is preserved, however unpopular the target. Down Underwood’s path lies a land called autocracy.

Benjamin Zycher is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute

Mortgage Risk Index release of July 2018 data - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 21:24

The American Enterprise Institute’s Center on Housing Markets and Finance released its monthly update to the series on mortgage lending practices on October 29, 2018. The loan-level data, which are for loans originated between September 2012 and July 2018, are risk-rated based on default risk factors to produce the National Mortgage Risk Index (NMRI), the best measure available of lending standards used in current mortgage lending.

National Data State Data Methodology Periodic Tables of Housing Risk

This month’s main takeaways:

  • Mortgage risk jumped in July with all indices setting new series’ highs for July.
    • The composite Purchase NMRI was up 0.5 ppt from July 2017.
    • FHA index set new series’ highs at 28.0%.
    • Refi NMRI also set a new series’ high primarily due to a higher Cash-Out Refi NMRI.
  • Agency purchase volume was up from a year ago.
    • Purchase volume by count was up 1.3% from July 2017, and up 21% from July 2013.
    • Total purchase and refinance volume by count was down 10% from July 2017.
  • Maintaining purchase volume continues to be too reliant on further agency credit easing, seen as needed to offset headwinds from gradually rising interest rates resulting from slightly less accommodative monetary policy and rapid home price increases.
  • Higher NMRI indicates agencies continue to increase leverage to maintain levels of mortgage activity and in furtherance of “affordable housing” mission.
    • FHA continues to loosen at a breath-taking pace.
    • Fannie’s purchase risk index relative to Freddie has widened by about 1 ppt in the last year.
    • The national seller’s market continued for its 73rd consecutive months. Further credit easing will be capitalized into higher prices, especially at the lower end of the market.
  • Drivers toward greater risk were:
    • A massive shift towards higher DTIs after GSEs increased DTI limit to 50 without compensating factors.
    • An immense increase in cash-out risk, which has more than doubled from July 2013.

“FHA commissioner Brian Montgomery, speaking at the 7th Annual AEI-CRN Housing Conference, noted that rapid home price appreciation could lead to ‘imbalances in the housing market, especially when there’s a severe discrepancy between the supply and demand for housing,’” noted Edward Pinto, codirector of the American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI’s) Center on Housing Markets and Finance.  “We are encouraged that the Commissioner indicated FHA is ‘looking at loan risk characteristics [such] as down payment assistance, cash out refinances and DTI ratios,’” Pinto added.

The implications of leverage during a long-lasting seller’s market, now in its 73rd month, are higher house prices concentrated at the lower end of the market and in lower income neighborhoods where leverage has been increasing the most. On the national level, there has been a long period with few metros experiencing negative home price growth, which is allowing market excesses to build. Moving forward, there will be even more risk as borrowers, especially first-time buyers, are forced to take on more leverage to buy.

“The increase in the cash-out refinance risk index has been nothing but breath-taking,” said Tobias Peter, senior research analyst at AEI’s Center on Housing Markets and Finance. “With mortgage rates rising over the last two years combined with declining volumes of rate-and-term refinances and flat purchase volume, non-bank lenders continue to ease credit standards for cash-outs, propelled in large measure by steering borrowers to FHA and VA, which have a much wider credit box,” Peter added.

With the addition of the data for July 2018, the NMRI covers nearly 34.2 million Agency loans dating back to September 2012, comprised of almost 17.1 million Agency purchase loans and over 17.1 million Agency refinance loans. The NMRI is published for purchase loans (with separate indices for first-time and repeat buyers), refinance loans (with separate indices for no-cash-out and cash-out refinance loans), and the composite of purchase and refinance loans.

Please find data and additional materials from our monthly call below. If you would like to receive invitations to our monthly update calls, please email Neil.Filosa@aei.org.

Presentation materials:

https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/7669776-2018-00-29T10-00-11-main.mp3



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Education as reeducation - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 18:50

This July, in sunny San Diego, Calif., a thousand educators from 27 states gathered for an immersive five-day meeting. The Standards Institute, hosted twice annually by New York–based UnboundEd, provides “standards-aligned” training in English-language arts, mathematics, and leadership. What differentiates UnboundEd is how it slathers its Common Core workshops with race-based rancor and junk science — and the snapshot it provides into the ongoing transformation of “school reform.”

UnboundEd CEO Kate Gerson opened the institute, telling the assembled: “If you are under the impression that there are good white people and bad white people, you’re wrong.” Gerson informed her charges that racial biases are pervasive, universal, and something “you cannot be cured from.”

Read the piece in full at National Review here .

A brief history of the exit poll - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 18:00

The first national exit poll of voters leaving the polls was conducted in 1972 by the late Warren Mitofsky who directed polling at CBS. In the 1970s and 1980s, the networks had their own exit polls. In 1990, Mitofsky left CBS to run the Voter Research Service, a consortium of the networks who pooled their resources to conduct one in-person survey. The idea was to cut the cost of conducting individual exit polls, all of which were competing with one another. In the presidential election in 2016, the five networks worked together with the Associated Press to conduct the exit poll, now called the National Election Pool (NEP). Edison Media Research in New Jersey conducted the exit poll for the NEP.

There were new developments in 2017. The AP, which has counted actual election results from around the country since 1848, pulled out of the consortium. Working with the NORC at the University of Chicago, the AP has developed a new approach called AP VoteCast. Fox also left the consortium and will be using the new AP-NORC approach. The Washington Post will also be using the AP VoteCast in a few states. The new effort isn’t a traditional exit poll where interviewers stand outside selected polling places throughout the country. Instead the AP VoteCast will be conducting pre-election interviews. David Bauder of the AP reported in May that the new partnership will conduct online and telephone surveys over four days before the election until the polls close. They plan to conduct “more than 85,000 interviews” over this time period.” With Fox, AP-NORC began testing the new approach in 2017 in special elections.

The exit polls are invaluable. They are the only source we have to look at how actual voters differ from all Americans. But they have come under increasing criticism in recent years. The 2016 exit poll underestimated the number of white working class voters and overestimated the white, college-educated Democratic electorate. In an NPR interview with Domenico Montanaro, Murray (Edelman who has worked on the exit poll for decades) acknowledged the problem, saying, “There’s an issue with overstating Democrats.” Will the new AP VoteCast solve the problems of the exit poll? Only time will tell, but most people who watch and use the exit polls for analysis agree that the new experiment is worth a try.

Join the AEI Election Watch team on November 8 for lunch to discuss what happened and what it means. Click here for details.

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Washington State Initiative 1631: A carbon tax and wealth redistribution to favored interests - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 17:30

The Washington State electorate on November 6 will vote on Initiative 1631, a “pollution” tax on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the stated goal of which is an annual GHG emissions reduction reaching 25 million tons by 2035 and 50 million tons by 2050. Nowhere in the initiative is there any requirement actually to meet these goals — no one suffers any penalty if they are not — a reality that speaks volumes about the true purpose of this proposal: wealth redistribution.

But on the surface, this specific goal of reducing GHG emissions means that the initiative purports to make a contribution toward dealing with anthropogenic climate change, although one searches in vain for any reference to that topic on the proponents’ websites, campaign materials, and other such political advertising.

Temperature “Effects”

Why is that? Like Sherlock Holmes’ dog that failed to bark, the proponents of I-1631 have maintained a deafening silence on the prospective climate impacts of this proposal. So let us do that for them, applying the climate model used by the US Environmental Protection Agency in its analyses of GHG regulatory proposals and similar policies. By 2050 the temperature reduction attendant upon this initiative, making every assumption favorable to it, would be 0.0003 of a degree. By 2100 that figure would rise to 0.0009 of a degree. (If a proportional policy were applied to the US as a whole, the temperature effect by 2100 would be a few one-hundredths of a degree.)

Those temperature effects obviously would be unmeasurable, a reality that explains fully why the proponents studiously have avoided any discussion of the actual climate impacts of I-1631. Instead, they have emphasized, ad nauseam, the supposed benefits of this initiative on “pollution,” a blatant exercise in subterfuge to which I return below.

Wealth Redistribution

For now let us examine the intended wealth redistribution effects of I-1631, another topic that the proponents have attempted to obfuscate. This initiative would raise approximately $1 billion per year — the tax begins at $15 per ton of GHG emissions and rises by $2 annually plus inflation, without limit — and the exemptions from the tax and uses to which the revenues would be put are fascinating.

The exemptions first: The initiative exempts such energy-intensive industries exposed to trade competition as aluminum and concrete producers and such other manufacturers as Boeing. This means that ordinary individuals, businesses, and families will bear a disproportionate burden of this tax, another negative reality that the proponents have avoided.

But $1 billion per year is not chopped liver; someone will receive subsidies at the expense of the ordinary individuals, businesses, and families just noted. The lucky ones — actually, luck has nothing to do with it — are (1) the electric car industry, already a beneficiary of deeply perverse federal subsidies and favoritism that have the effect of subsidizing the wealthy at the expense of everyone else; (2) new forest and water projects that are likely to conflict with other federal and state environmental policies and that should be financed with general revenues rather than a specific tax borne, again, by ordinary individuals, businesses, and families; and (3) an “Environmental and Economic Justice Panel” that is empowered under I-1631, literally, to engage in self-dealing, and that is the very definition of the politicized consumption of tax dollars.

With respect to the last: That panel will be unelected but will make the decisions on how its share of the revenues will be spent. Apart from this blatant effort to reward political allies, I-1631 specifically mandates support of road “demand management.” That means toll lanes and roads, that is, subsidies for transit and construction companies and other interests, the ironic effect of which will be an increase in congestion and emissions. It is likely also to mean various attempts to subsidize urban interests at the expense of suburban, exurban, and rural ones by hampering the ability of motorists to drive their vehicles when and where they see fit.

Rent-Seeking and Pollution

Should anyone doubt that I-1631 is little more than a revenue grab — don’t forget who will bear the costs — let us recall the memory of Washington State Initiative 732 a mere two years ago. That initiative also proposed a carbon tax, with the central difference being that it was intended to be revenue neutral, incorporating cuts in sales and business taxes. Many of the groups now supporting I-1631 opposed I-732 precisely because the latter failed to provide new revenues for them and their political allies.

Where was their deep concern about “pollution” then? Obviously, given the exemptions and explicit subsidies for favored groups, I-1631 has nothing to do with “pollution” and everything to do with “rent-seeking,” that is, the use of government policies to bestow favors on activist groups and narrow interests demanding that they get a share of the revenues, at the expense of everyone else.

“Clean Energy”

The “clean energy” assertions from the proponents are laughable. Notwithstanding the conventional wisdom, wind and solar power systems do not reduce emissions of GHG or conventional pollutants because the unreliability of such unconventional electricity requires the use of fossil fuel backup generation units that must be cycled up and down depending on wind and sunlight conditions. Accordingly, the backup units must be operated inefficiently so as to avoid blackouts, yielding an increase in emissions rates and total emissions measured absolutely once the wind and solar systems achieve a market share of roughly 10 percent.

More generally, there is nothing “clean” about renewables. There is the heavy-metal pollution created by the production process for wind turbines. There are the noise and flicker effects of wind turbines. There is the large problem of solar panel waste. There is the wildlife destruction caused by the production of renewable power. There is the land use both massive and unsightly, made necessary by the unconcentrated nature of renewable energy.

It simply is a reality that renewables are morecostly than conventional energy, in large part because the energy content of sunlight and wind flows is unconcentrated, unlike the case for fossil fuels. This is separate from the theoretical limits on the energy obtainable from those sources. Except perhaps for specialized and highly limited applications in localized contexts, higher costs are an inexorable outcome of GHG policies, notwithstanding ubiquitous assertions to the contrary. (Witness, for example, California.) And so the tax to be imposed by I-1631 is only the beginning: The indirect adverse effects of this initiative are difficult to measure, but they will not be trivial, and will be borne, again, by those not among the ones exempted and the specified beneficiaries.

Pollution Propaganda

And about the endless invocation by the proponents of the term “pollution”: In the context of GHG, that term is political propaganda, the obvious purpose of which is to cut off debate before it begins by assuming the answer to the underlying policy question. Carbon dioxide is not “carbon,” and it is not a pollutant, as a certain minimum atmospheric concentration of it is necessary for life itself. By far the most important GHG in terms of the radiative properties of the troposphere is water vapor; no one calls it a pollutant. Why not? Is it because ocean evaporation is a natural process? So are volcanic eruptions, but the toxins, particulates, and other effluents emitted by volcanoes are pollutants by any definition.

The proponents now are arguing in a campaign mailer that I-1631 will reduce emissions of conventional pollutants in addition to GHG, thus yielding favorable impacts in terms of “dirty, smoky air and increased asthma risk, [and] frequent forest fires.” Wow. Whom do they think they’re kidding? That reduction in emissions will not be costless, and there is little evidence that Washington State has failed to meet the requirements of the federal Clean Air Act, except for emissions of particulates from wood-burning stoves during winter atmospheric inversions and when winds blow smoke into the state from forest fires in British Columbia. For the US, the number of wildfires shows no trend since 1985 despite increasing atmospheric concentrations of GHG.

Put aside the silence of the proponents on the climate phenomena that this proposal supposedly would improve. It has been quite awhile since I have seen political arguments as dishonest as those that have been promoted in favor of I-1631. Washingtonians would be far better off without it.

AEI Events Podcast: America engaged: Attitudes toward US global leadership - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 17:09

On this episode of the AEI Events Podcast, join AEI and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs for the release of the council’s 2018 report on American attitudes toward US global leadership and a discussion on the future of America’s role in the world.

Strong global leadership has been a pillar of US foreign policy for more than half a century, but some believe the Trump administration’s America First agenda strays from the country’s enduring tradition of international engagement. But disengagement in the Middle East and an empty “pivot to Asia” in the Obama administration also signaled a similar drift from internationalism. For years, public support of the nation’s visible role in the world was a given, but is there a more fundamental shift in American thinking?

This event took place on October 2, 2018.

Watch the full event here.

Subscribe to the AEI Events Podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Examining US–Saudi Arabia relations - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 16:26

The brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has produced new strains in the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia, which is already under stress from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the ongoing war in Yemen, and the values gap between the two countries.

In the past two years, President Donald Trump has aligned much of his Middle East policy more closely with Saudi Arabia. He chose the Kingdom for his first overseas visit as president, and Jared Kushner has forged a close relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman — the architect of Riyadh’s newly assertive foreign policy.

Please join the Center for American Progress and the American Enterprise Institute for a discussion on the future of American relations with Saudi Arabia and the likely impact of recent events on military, diplomatic, and economic cooperation.

Join the conversation on social media with @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.

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