This is an editorial in the Manila Tribune.
Perhaps Obama may be a bit protectionist but he has a number of free traders in his transition team. His rhetoric about changing NAFTA during the election campaign was probably just that: campaign rhetoric. One of his key staffers was also a big investment banker so don't expect policies that are very harmful to Wall St. Certainly he may give less wealthy Americans a check to promote consumption and get the economy going but Bush did exactly the same thing.
There may be no excess profits of oil companies given the drastic drop in the price of oil. In fact some of the more expensive oil development projects may be put on hold until the price increases. I wonder if corruption in the Philippines will really be any sort of priority for the Obama administration. Somehow I doubt it. The Americans are more likely to try and work with whatever government in the Philippines happens to be in power.
Obama, boon and bane
What would be the implications of an Obama administration to the country and to the world?
The answer to that would unravel two months from now on Jan. 20, 2009 when President Barack Obama brings his mantra of change to the White House.
For now, President-elect Obama has strongly indicated that his thrust to make the US economy stronger would be founded on uplifting the lives of smaller American citizens, to make them partners in economic progress, through mainly tax incentives and state relief, primarily a $1,000 emergency energy rebate to each family up to the middle class in the form of tax allowances that would be taken from excess profits of oil companies which were well pampered during the administration of George W. Bush.
Obama’s economic thrust also looks focused on the local US economy compared to the Bush administration’s free trade priority. Obama has said in his speeches that trade deals the United States signed previously may have to be reviewed to make these beneficial to American workers.
He had already committed a review of the North American Free Trade Agreement which many have complained to have given away too much concessions in terms of US trade to its North and South American partners.
A crucial policy that may have deep international repercussions, particularly in the country, was Obama’s pledge to stop providing incentives to US companies outsourcing jobs while perking up industries that would generate more employment for Americans.
While a current global downturn may have to force many First World companies to ship out jobs to lower labor cost countries such as the Philippines, many American firms would now have to weigh the disincentives that an Obama presidency may impose on them.
Such a policy may also have a concomitant effect of providing preference to US citizens in the allocation of jobs, that may affect the employment of millions of Filipinos living in the US.
Obama appears to be moving on the most pragmatic path to turn around the American economy that the Bush administration had allowed to spin out of control, but such would have a profound impact on the local economy that seems to have relied ever greatly on its American links under Gloria’s economic policies which have been as vague as that of George W. Bush’s.
Its consequent effect, however, may be smaller US involvement in the world stage, including possibly overseas aid since much of state resources would have to be used in resurrecting its economy.
Gloria and Dubya’s political fate seems intertwined more so because of the fact that both assumed their respective presidencies in 2001. Both have been repudiated by their own people and they share a bankrupt economic agenda based on an open economy that does not need any form of imagination to implement.
They also both would likely be relegated to the dustbin of history for having the worst administration ever in their respective countries.
Much is expected from Obama, as in any new administration anywhere which promises change.
Despite the several cons for the country in an Obama presidency, these hopefully will be transitional since his success in turning around the US economy, which would likely be the most difficult immediate task facing his administration, would redound to the benefit of the global economy and ultimately the country’s own.
The failure of the open market principle has not manifested before as clearly as today when most economies in the world are experiencing a downturn. Those countries that have kept a measure of protection on their domestic business, such as China and India, have been insulated immensely from the downturn.
Obama’s economic thrust seems to be the correct prescription for his country’s ailing economy and nobody would blame him for it. It is the task of the governments of other countries, including the Philippines, to prepare for less American involvement in the world primarily on trade and, of course, military assistance.
The country is among the major beneficiaries of Dubya’s war on terror that appeared to have spread rather than diminished acts of global terrorism.
Gloria’s boast of the country being the US’ most dependable ally in the war on terror in the region would have little value under an Obama administration. Instead, what is expected is less US tolerance on the politics of abuse and exploitation that Gloria had instituted in her eight years in power.
For instance, Obama is expected to drive hard against corruption in Gloria’s government mainly because this would also help relieve the strain on the US to keep providing aid to the country which has been kept poor as a result of corrupt acts.
In sum, Obama, based on his contract of change, may be a boon for Americans, and perhaps, eventually Filipinos, and likely a bane for Gloria.