NDN, Rob Shapiro in New York magazine on globalization

NDN Globalization Initiative Director Rob Shapiro is quoted prominently in a thoughtful John Heilemann column in New York Magazine this week.  An excerpt:

The pace of change being driven by globalization has only accelerated in the fourteen years since NAFTA’s passage. And the political backlash against that change has only grown more bellicose, potent, and mainstream. In 2006, a raft of Democratic Senate candidates—Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, Virginia’s Jim Webb, Montana’s Jon Tester—were elected in part because of their appeals to economic nationalism and their opposition to trade deals that reputedly sent countless jobs overseas. And the anti-globalization tenor of many House Democratic campaigns was even more pronounced. “In all my time in Washington,” says Rob Shapiro, chairman of the New Democrat Network Globalization Initiative and a key adviser to Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, “I’ve never seen less support for open trade across this town than today."......

More broadly, the consensus among top-tier economists that underpinned the support for free trade has lately been rattled by a spate of revisionism. Alan Blinder of Princeton, a former vice-chair of the Federal Reserve and a staunch Democrat, has taken to arguing that the downsides of unfettered globalization may be far greater than standard doctrine has assumed—in particular, that offshoring and outsourcing may put as many as 40 million American jobs at risk in the next two decades. The Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson has joined the chorus, as has former Clinton Treasury secretary Larry Summers, who wrote recently that pledges to retrain workers displaced in the globalized economy are “pretty thin gruel” when it comes to allaying the fears of the middle class.

The rethinking going on among such economists is salutary, to be sure. There can hardly be any doubt any longer that globalization (fueled by rapid technological change) is, as Shapiro has written, “weakening the long-standing connection between increases in the productivity of workers and the wages they earn.” But what makes the responses to this new reality among the Blinders and Summerses of the world welcome is that their arguments tend to be complex, careful, and nuanced. What none of them is advocating is any form of protectionism—even though that is precisely what many of the politicians and union leaders now seizing on the rethinking have in mind. Instead, the economists favor grand-scale education reform, worker training, R&D spending, and changes in the tax code to promote the creation of high value-added U.S. based jobs, and, not least, universal health care reform to bring down costs for domestic businesses.

“The next administration has a responsibility to create a new bargain on trade,” says Shapiro. “The bargain is, we will continue to expand open trade and we will make the significant investments required to enable American workers to benefit from it.”

Given Shapiro’s roots, it’s not surprising that his new bargain embodies the spirit of Clintonism (Bill Clintonism, that is). What’s often forgotten about Clintonomics, in its original incarnation, is that its theme was “putting people first.” Yes, there was always a commitment to fiscal discipline. Yes, there was the embrace of internationalism. But there was also a promise to sink massive sums into the formation and enhancement of human capital. But Clinton’s human-capital agenda was sacrificed on the altar of budget balancing, a sacrifice that was arguably unnecessary had the president and his people been willing to take on corporate welfare, congressional pork, and entitlement spending.

Now comes a golden opportunity for a presidential candidate prepared to do just that. Ready, that is, to make good on Bill Clinton’s unfinished agenda. Without question, the candidate most suitable to taking up the task, for reasons of both temperament and historical-cum-marital continuity, would be Hillary Clinton. Doing so would require her, however, to drop the cheap posturing as a trade hawk and adopt instead a stance of, I dunno, a genuine third-way leader. Those of us who care about getting globalization right will be watching and egging her on. And so, one hopes, will be her husband, who happens to understand all of this as well as anyone alive.

For more on NDN's Globalization Initiative, visit

Gore and the climate change pledge

Al Gore has a strongly worded op-ed in the Times today on climate change.  It also previews the Live Earth concerts next week, and the pledge we will be asked to take:

Next Saturday, on all seven continents, the Live Earth concert will ask for the attention of humankind to begin a three-year campaign to make everyone on our planet aware of how we can solve the climate crisis in time to avoid catastrophe. Individuals must be a part of the solution. In the words of Buckminster Fuller, “If the success or failure of this planet, and of human beings, depended on how I am and what I do, how would I be? What would I do?”

Live Earth will offer an answer to this question by asking everyone who attends or listens to the concerts to sign a personal pledge to take specific steps to combat climate change. (More details about the pledge are available at


Coming to a deeper understanding of globalization

As many of you know NDN has been a leader in the fight to improve and reform our broken immigration system through two year long effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform.  During the course of what has become an epic political battle, it has become clear to me that this issue of immigration - or more appropriately "migration" - is going to one of the central issues facing America and the world in the years ahead. 

In today's New York Times, the ever able Jason DeParle offers a sweeping opening article in what will be a series of stories about global migration.  There is much to recommend about the piece, but the one thing you shouldn't miss is the global map from the Migration Policy Institute showing annual migration rates around the world in this decade. 

The map underscores what a unique moment in history we are living in.  A series of developments - the collapse of communism, a period of relative political stability and global peace, the incredible spread of information technology, the success of Clinton era trade liberalization policies - has created an unprecedented, dynamic and truly global economy.   Goods, information, money are moving around the world with every greater speed.   Hundreds of millions have risen from poverty in the just the past decade.  Half of he world's six billion people are now connected to the global communications network through mobile phones or the internet.   We live in a time of tremendous progress, where the standard of living of people throughout the world is rising at historic levels, and where we are becoming more connected to one another than ever before. 

This progress of course is not without areas of concerns.  Large parts of Africa and the Middle East have been slow to take advantage of the new opportunities this period brings.  New growth brings greater pressure on the environment throughout the world.  Greater demand for oil has empowered petrodictators like Chavez and Putin.  And what DeParle's piece lays out is how rising standards of living, greater mobility, this communications revolution will all make it more likely that an even greater number of people will choose to migrate from their home countries in the coming years.  People are trying to move with the same speed as the rest of global capitalism.  But of course, it isn't that easy, as we are finding out with the immigration battle here in the United States. 

That's why I believe this immigration battle, and the ones certainly to follow, are so important.  This debate says so much about our ability to understand the moment we are in, how the world and the United States are changing, and come up strategies and plans to help our great nation and its people prosper in it.  The people and the nations of the world, increasingly, to borrow from Bono, are becoming "one."  There has perhaps never been a moment in human history where it has been more true that "we are all in this together."  In many ways these developments are exciting, wonderful, hopeful.  But the emergence, power and increasing velocity of globalization in the early 21st century is also challenging cultures, identity, governments and the very idea of the state itself in ways that I dont think we've done a whole lot of thinking about. 

But that's why we started our Globalization Initiative last year, and we have fought so hard to help resolve this immigration debate in a way that works for all Americans, current and future.  Our new century requires a whole lot of new thinking, and I know of no better community to help lead the way in helping America meet the new challenges of our new day than the one we've built together here at NDN. 

Book Recommendation: The End of Poverty

Last summer I came along a book that had a truly profound impact on my understanding of the Middle East, Vali Nasr's excellent book, The Shia Revival.   As readers of this blog know I have aggressively promoted it, and you can even find an interview I conducted with Vali recently on our main site here. It is a true must-read for anyone seeking a better understanding of the Middle East today.

This summer I have come across another book that strongly recommend to friends and family - The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs.  Few books I have ever read are as informed, as optimistic, as well-written, as important as this one.  Sachs lays out a powerful vision for how to eradicate extreme poverty in the world, and a pragmatic plan to get it done.  Like with Nasr, I hope we can get the Professor Sachs to address the NDN family some time in the not so distant future.


Immigration Hope?

The Times this morning has a story that suggests the immigration bill is still alive and kicking. Importantly it quotes the leading Senate R, John Kyl, admiting responsibility for the reckless actions of the anti-immigration deal gang of 4 who were instrumental in bringing the deal down last week.

On a relatied note, thoughtful Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby starts his column, "The Party of Global Seriousness" this way:

The collapse of the immigration bill last week holds a political lesson. It isn't just Democrats who flunk Globalization 101. Indeed, Democrats may be supplanting Republicans as the grown-ups on this issue.

Anyone who understands Globalization 101 knows that immigration, including large-scale unskilled immigration, is a fact of the modern world. Mexican laborers who migrate to the United States stand to see their wages triple or more: No amount of border security is going to keep them from coming. Chasing down and deporting illegal workers is costly to U.S. taxpayers, cruel to immigrants, disruptive for U.S. employers, expensive for U.S. consumers -- and, most of all, futile. People who yell "amnesty" merely reveal that they don't understand the world we live in.

But the Republican Party, which prides itself on understanding globalization when it comes to capital flows or trade, is blind to the global labor market. In the crunch immigration vote in the Senate on Thursday, only seven Republicans voted for reform, while 38 voted against it. Among the supposedly globo-phobic Democrats, the numbers were roughly reversed: 37 Democrats voted for reform while just 11 voted like ostriches...

Though I agree with the sentiment of the piece, I take issue that the current Republican leadership has ever demonstrated they have a firm grasp of globalization. It has been under the GOP's watch that we saw the selling out of IP at Doha in 2002; the passage of the distorting farm bill in 2002; the collapse of the Doha round these past several years; and of course they have been wildly ignorant of how the current wave of globalization has been effecting American workers. Their economic strategy these last 6 years has been limited to cutting taxes on the wealthiest among us, a response clearly not adequate to the moment we are in.


Bai on Edwards and Poverty

Matt Bai has the cover story in this week's NY Times Magazine.  It looks at the debate about poverty, and features John Edwards. 

We also learn the title of his book due out later this summer, “The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics."

A call to action: let's pass immigration reform this week

This is a make or break week for immigration reform in the Senate.   The Washington Post this am has a fair scene setter, Backers of Immigration Bill More Optimistic, that includes a good rundown of potential amendments - some designed of course to kill the bill. 

Both the Post and the Times have lede editorials on immigration this morning, and the Times had yet another story yesterday about how the immigration debate is ripping the GOP apart (going to be interesting to watch this part of the GOP debate tomorrow night). 

My friends, this is it.  As we wrote recently, we have a come a long way since a bill passed the House in late 2005 calling for the arrest and deportation of all undocumented immigrants in America.  A Times poll from 10 days ago show 2/3rds support for all the major elements of the bill, including offering the undocumenteds a path to citizenship.  A deep and broad coalition supports this new bill, including the Catholic Church, the Chamber of Commerce, important labor unions and many immigrant rights groups.  Leading politicians of both parties have worked hard to pass immigration reform, including the President, John McCain, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.  Fear, uncertainty, anger have been overcome.   

I hope everyone in the NDN community will take a simple action today: call your two US Senators and tell them you want them to work hard this week to pass the Kennedy-Kyl bill. 

You can mention that you believe this final bill needs to do three things: 1) crack down on the border and in the workplace; 2) deal sensibly with the flow of future workers; and 3) offer a reasonable path to legal status and citizenship to those already here.  For good measure you can add that you find the new point system for future immigrants unwise; that you are concerned that that the 200,000 workers a year in the guest worker program need a path to citizenship; that the "touchback" provision that requires those with the new "z" visa to return to their home countries to apply for a green card should go; and INS needs the financial, management and political support required to deal with what will be a massive management challenge for a less than optimal agency. 

Friends, we have spent millions of dollars, conducted hundreds of briefings, written way too many emails and blogposts, lobbied policy makers big and small, conducted detailed polling and worked this issue hard with national reporters.  Our community has played a very significant role in recognizing the importance of this issue, and helping get this close to a good deal.  We must work hard this week to make sure we do not miss this historic opportunity to fix our broken immigration system, and demonstate to the American people that with new leaders Washington can and will tackle the most important challenges facing the nation today. 

For more on NDN's work on immigration reform, click here.  

In the immigration debate a clear consensus on a path to citizenship has emerged

For those of us who have been working to fix our broken immigration system, this has been a very good week.   The new Kennedy-Kyl bill made significant headway through the Senate.  Bad amendments were defeated.   Good amendments, particularly the Bingaman amendment limiting the new guest worker plan to 200,000 a year, passed.

Perhaps overlooked in what was a busy week is how the opposition to what is the central provision of what has been called Comprehensive Immigration Reform collapsed, and how a clear national consensus to offer undocumented immigrants legal work status and a path to citizenship has emerged.  This is no small accomplishment, no small development in what has been a very difficult debate, and must be seen as a tremendous victory for Senator Kennedy and those advocating sensible reform.

This opposition, which now includes Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, while it has had many components, has been led since late 2005 by Congressional Republicans.  Their goal was to defeat any bill that had legalized the work status and offered a path to citizenship to the 12 million undocumented immigrants and their families.  Ten of millions of dollars of ads were run in races across the country demonizing Hispanic immigrants and supporters of sensible reform, and in many cases, the ads compared Mexican immigrants to Muslim terrorists.   It was a central plank of virtually every Republican campaign in the nation, from Rick Santorum to JD Hayworth.  While the President and some Senators, led by John McCain, opposed this strategy, they failed to persuade their colleagues and the ads and the campaign continued.

This strategy, of course, didn’t work, and I believe was one of the most significant political miscalculations of a political party in the modern era.  The Republicans demonization of immigrants, reminiscent of Pete Wilson’s efforts in California in the 1990s cost their Party in three ways: first, it has tremendous opportunity costs.  The hundreds of millions of dollars of paid and free media they invested in the issue gained them little or nothing politically.  This money and time and message could have been spent much more productively for them in other ways.  Second, it deeply angered Hispanics, the fastest growing part of the American electorate.  Hispanics swung 20 points to the Democrats and their turnout went up 33% from 2002.  And finally, it reinforced the central argument of the Democrats in 2006 – that Republicans were more interested in politics than solving the big problems facing the nation.  The national GOP whipped up a national frenzy around our “broken borders,” never offered a cogent solution to what is a very real problem and then blocked a sensible bi-partisan effort that would have gone a long way to mending our broken immigration system.

Which brings us to this week.  While we believe the new Senate bill needs further improvement, there should be little doubt that the Republican Party, Republicans in the Senate and the American people have joined the Democrats in embracing the central tenet of what progressives have fought for in this debate – a path to citizenship.  Opponents to the 2006 Senate bill like John Kyl have now embraced the citizenship provisions.  The new Chair of the RNC is a pro-immigration reform Hispanic immigrant, Mel Martinez.  And a new New York Times poll out today shows two-thirds of the nation now supporting a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (

While there is a long way to go in this debate, their should be little doubt now that the nation and the leaders of both parties have come to consensus on one central tenet of the immigration debate – there must be a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.  For those of us in the trenches on this tough and important issue, we should sit back and recognize that for all the anger and contention significant progress has been made, and it is now much more likely that the lives of 12 million people will be dramatically improved this year. 

Finally, it should be noted that yesterday the Congress voted overwhelmingly to raise the minimum wage.  This has been a very high priority for NDN, and coupled with the progress made on immigration reform, demonstrates that this new Congress is taking the necessary steps to help improve the lives of those people in the United States struggling the hardest to get ahead.  If immigration reform passes this year, tens of millions of families will have had their lives directly affected, and improved, by the actions of this new Congress.  Given the inaction of recent years, these are no small accomplishments for Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi. 

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