CRAWFORD: Strategic, smart compromises can move our country forward

The U.S. Constitution resulted from compromise — not just compromise for compromise’s sake, but strategic compromise to achieve a much needed solution.

“Just as they did in Philadelphia when they were writing the Constitution,” said former Secretary of State Colin Powell, “sooner or later you’ve got to start making the compromises that arrive at a consensus and move the country forward.”

True patriots like George Washington understood this.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio gets it. “I would say to you that compromise that’s not a solution is a waste of time,” Rubio said. He was one of the bi-partisan “Gang of Eight” senators who drafted the compromise immigration reform bill passed by the Senate last week.

immigration“I got involved in this issue for one simple reason,” said Rubio. “I ran for office to try and fix things that are hurting this special country of ours. And in the end, that is what this is about for me — trying to fix a serious problem that faces America.”

The problems of illegal immigration, a broken legal immigration system, and inconsistent enforcement have been with us for years, but Congress produced no solutions. Indeed, “immigration reform” became a popular wedge issue for both Republicans and Democrats. Dividers use wedge issues to keep us apart, with little care for solutions.

The immigration issue now moves to a House of Representatives that seems to favor wedges and division more than strategic compromise and solutions.

Meanwhile, there are issues beyond immigration that need strategic compromise. Restructuring our economy should be at the top of the list.

In “Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism,” noted author Kevin Phillips points out that finance now dominates the U.S. economy at 21 percent of GDP while manufacturing has fallen to 12 percent.

“There is no historic example of a great power that has let itself financialize, where manufacturing has been subordinated, that has come back from it,” he said.

The economic shift from manufacturing to high finance matches shifts by U.S. corporations to outsource and offshore production. In comparison, Germany made it a priority to protect domestic mass production expertise, technology, and manufacturing capacity. China is pursuing the same course. Both maintain huge trade surpluses. The U.S. last had a trade surplus in 1975.

Rising shipping costs, wage gains in China, and other factors have recently provided a window of opportunity for America to regain manufacturing capacity.

Congress has a key role to play in taking advantage of this opportunity through tax restructuring and adequately funding infrastructure improvements and workforce training. A strategic compromise to get this done would create thousands of manufacturing jobs.

But can a Congress that would rather fight than fix take advantage of this short-term opportunity? With more like Rubio, yes.

Bill Crawford (crawfolk@gmail.com) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.

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