The US legislative farce

Updated: 2011-10-08 08:06

(China Daily)

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While mostly shying away from their duty to answer the increasingly loud calls of their own people, US politicians pretend to be serious about their economic woes by again playing the game of scapegoating China and yuan.

However, a protectionist US bill to get tough with China over its currency will not save many US jobs permanently lost to low-wage workers around the world in this era of globalization. Nor will it help solve the country's fundamental problems, which result from an extended period of overborrowing and overconsumption.

Worse, the fragile global economic recovery simply cannot afford the risk of an all-out trade war between the world's two largest economies, a conflict that the controversial US Senate bill on so-called currency manipulation by China has the potential to trigger.

If the global economy is to avoid an imminent double-dip recession, the international community should stand together with China, which has expressed its strong opposition to the US Senate's protectionist move and warned that it "seriously violates the rules of the World Trade Organization and obstructs China-US trade ties".

On Thursday, US President Barack Obama matter-of-factly expressed "concerns" about the bill, pointing out that it could fall foul of WTO rules.

More importantly, the escalation of the Occupy Wall Street protests, with more support from union workers and college students in the United States, has signaled a clear, unwavering message to Washington's politicians that it is time to abandon the business-as-usual scapegoating practices.

Because of a dispute between Republicans and Democrats over the handling of amendments, the US Senate delayed the vote on the legislation to Tuesday night, instead of moving to a final vote on Thursday. Unfortunately, that does not represent any progress in stopping the latest legislative farce.

Advocates of the bill might still believe that this calculated attempt to scapegoat China may be enough to score political points for themselves while easing public frustration about domestic difficulties.

But the rapid expansion of Occupy Wall Street protests from an event ignored by most news organizations just three weeks ago to the current popular movement that no one can or should neglect indicates soaring public anger at US partisan paralysis regarding real solutions to the country's underlying problems.

Do not mistake protectionism for a panacea to the US' economic troubles. It is just another example of US partisan paralysis over domestic reforms that are essential to the revitalization of the US economy and the global rebalancing of power.

The protesters on Wall Street and in other US cities understand this. And the international community is watching closely to see if US politicians will end their finger-pointing and roll up sleeves to produce the reforms that their people are demanding.

(China Daily 10/08/2011 page5)