Protecting our economy

By ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, former U. S. senator


JULY 30, 2014 -- Senator Lindsey Graham on Meet the Press (7/20/14) called America: "The glue that holds the free world together." We were the glue but since the advent of nuclear weaponry, China can checkmate us. Any military conflict with China threatens to go nuclear and should be avoided. No longer can we look for a military solution to every problem in the world. Senator Graham also calls President Obama "The King of Indecision". While I regret President Obama doesn't lead on domestic policy, I appreciate his hesitancy on foreign policy. We did not go into Syria because Obama couldn't find a leader for the outcome.

Ukraine, a Russian country on the Russian border, has little or no economic ties to the United States. Ukraine has strong economic and military ties to Russia. Russia depends upon Ukraine for much of its military supplies. Russia's Navy is based at Sevastopol, recently Ukraine. Russia's pipeline, providing gas to Europe, traverses Ukraine.

Our determination to have Ukraine join NATO has caused the trouble. First, we tried to break Ukraine's economic ties to Russia by having Ukraine join the European Union. Putin countered by having Ukraine join the Eurasian Union. When Putin offered Ukraine a $15 billion economic package, the President of Ukraine opted for Russia, which caused his overthrow. We had dispatched forty nine entities of the National Endowment for Democracy to stir dissention while calling it "spreading democracy". No doubt NED minions helped in the overthrow. Now, we are caught overthrowing a democratically elected President by a million votes to spread democracy.

With Russian Crimea gone, the National Endowment, CIA and money could elect a billionaire President of Ukraine, favorable to the European Union and we can call pro-Russians in East Ukraine militants. Our propaganda machine calls President Putin "a thug" and Time Magazine (8/4/14) calls the downing of Flight 17 a "Crime Without Punishment". We know the downing of Malaysia Flight 17 was caused by two mistakes. First mistake: Flight 17 should have known from its government or airline that East Ukraine was a warzone to be avoided.

As the Wall Street Journal headlined (7/24/14) "Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Flight 17 Flew Into War Zone". Second mistake: No doubt a missile from East Ukraine shot down Flight 17. The militants bragged about it at first and, learning their mistake, tried to cover it up. Our news media fails to mention NATO, NED, the overthrow of a democratically elected President and the fact that the U.S. provoked the controversy.

In foreign policy, our trouble is that many in Congress practice politics of the moment. Calling President Putin "the KGB Colonel" is politics of the moment. Foreign policy doesn't respond to the politics of the moment. Congress puffs and blows militarily when it should be protecting our economy. The U.S. was built on protection with the Tariff Act of 1787.

In 1968, in the U.S. Senate, I passed by 68 votes an amendment to a House passed trade bill to protect the textile industry. Seeing that his veto could be overridden, President Lyndon Johnson had his friend Wilbur Mills "deep six" the bill when it was returned to the House. It was never voted upon. Then we passed trade bills to protect the textile industry through both Houses of Congress only to be vetoed: one by President Carter; two by President Reagan; one by President George H.W. Bush. Management was spending $2 billion a year to make the U.S. textile industry the most productive but to no avail.

Today, the textile industry is gone. The automobile industry is gone. Electronics, computers, and machine tools are gone. Our economy is being offshored. Competition in globalization is set by the closed, controlled markets and predatory practices of Japan and China. Free trade has gone. To survive, we must protect our economy.

Now Jack Lew, the Treasury Secretary, finds that our tax system "has become full of inefficiencies and special interest loopholes" (Washington Post, 7/28/14). He suggests closing the inversion loophole but doesn't mention the Value Added Tax used by 160 countries. While the VAT is rebated on exports, the Corporate Tax is not rebated. Replacing the 35 percent Corporate Tax with a 7 percent VAT closes all loopholes, produces billions to balance the budget in two years rather than ten, and creates millions of jobs. But, Congress does nothing but fundraise.

Congress is about to leave Washington for another month of fundraising - fundraising for themselves and doing nothing for the country. Congress should be protecting our economy.

Senator Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).

© 2014, Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact us for republication permission.

About Fritz Hollings

Ernest F. Hollings served the public for 56 years -- 38 years in the United States Senate and as South Carolina's governor, lieutenant governor and a member of the S.C. House of Representatives.

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