Americans go to the polls on Nov.6 to elect a President. The contest is a study in contrasts.
The Romney/Ryan ticket sees America as a Harvard business case to which they would apply the principles of private equity. Romney made his fortune with Bain Capital, a private equity fund, while Ryan earned his political stripes as a number crunching policy wonk.
In private equity, investors swoop into a company, wring out the excess fat usually by firing people, outsource production to low cost workers, or shut down operations after selling off its valuable assets. Once streamlined, the investors sell the company and walk off with a bunch of money. The model is dispassionate, white male dominated (women come in binders), and PowerPoint based. It is unbridled capitalism in its purest form. Think Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street”.
In the Republican Excel world, Americans are numbers and America a spreadsheet. To Romney, 47% of the country are slackers, the richest 1% drive the economy, General Motors should have gone bankrupt, health care for the elderly should be thrown to the market place, and generally everybody should be out for himself. To the Republicans there is no problem that efficiency and testosterones cannot solve. If the family dog cannot fit, strap him to the car roof.
The Democrats believe there is a difference between governance and business management. A nation has human and cultural dimensions absent in business; like social welfare, protection of the environment and justice. Democrats believe in a kinder and gentler society where Government acts as a safety net, where the rich have to share a greater burden, where health care should be available to all, and where community spirit should complement individual strife. Obama saw a human face in General Motors when he saved it.
Republicans and Democrats have binary views on the economy. The former believe it is the rich who create jobs (while 47% of the country are takers) and they should be rewarded with tax cuts. Romney believes out-of-work youth should “borrow money from their parents” to create businesses and Americans should welcome lower taxes on dividends and interest on their investments. With 23 million just looking for a job, his critics want to know what Americans he is referring to.
In foreign policy the Republicans apply the same tough-mindedness: Either countries shape up or America will ship in. Foreign aid will only go to those who tow the line. They label China a currency manipulator. They see Russia in adversarial terms.
Democrats take a more universal view of the world. In addressing hot spots, Obama believes America should be a global partner who builds international consensus, a more equal partner perhaps, but a member no less.
The outcome of the U.S. elections will affect the Philippines. We know what a Democratic Administration looks like. Here is what a Republican President could mean.
Romney and Ryan have minimal foreign policy experience. Outside of China, Asia does not come naturally to them. Romney’s only foreign visit this year was to Europe and Israel while Ryan, a Midwesterner from a landlocked state, has limited if no exposure to the region. By contrast, Obama has Asian routes in Indonesia and Biden was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The Republican priorities will be domestic. The Republicans are more prepared to openly confront China on matters affecting the U.S. economy. This could lead to increased tensions between these two superpowers. The combination of a less active engagement in Asia and strained relations with China means the Philippines is pretty much on its own as far as its dispute on Scarborough.
With its imperial view of the world, a Republican Administration could well escalate tensions particularly in the Middle East and raise political risk premiums. This will impact our gas prices.
On the economic front, many believe a Romney Presidency can do a better job in reviving the U.S. economy. This should be good for markets and trade worldwide, the Philippines included. Faster economic growth will slowly lead to higher inflation and interest rates all round.
Both candidates have said they will discourage outsourcing of U.S. jobs which could affect the BPO business in the Philippines. In reality, outsourcing is here to stay as a model so we should not expect any reversal in the trend.
A Republican Administration is expected to be tougher on immigration. This may make it more difficult for Filipinos seeking to relocate to the U.S.
The liberal views of Democrats are more in line with Filipino values and as a bloc Filipino-Americans have tended to vote Democrat. In general a Democrat Administration will probably be more open to the Philippines.