“T Q H & AN E FIG A w D T HT ith HE AG Joh LE AI n SS NS Ba ON T C rr S O OV y: F 1 ID 91 -19 8”
ANN WAGNER discusses her role as Chair of the Suburban Caucus
October 2020 Volume 54, No. 4
From the Republican Revolution of 1994 to the Global Pandemic of 2020, Mac Thornberry reflects on the past 26 years. Plus - Deb Fischer on the rise of China, the resurgence of Russia, and the importance of enacting the 2021 NDAA. And - Shelley Moore Capito on the effort to close the digital divide and better connect rural America.
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“Ideas that matter, since 1965.“ Volume 54, Number 4 Politics & Perspective
Special Feature (cont’d)
The Fight Against COVID-19 and the Lessons of 1918 A Conversation with John Barry
Better Connecting Rural America By Shelley Moore Capito
Seven Years into China’s Belt and Road By David Dollar American officials have criticized the program as “debt trap diplomacy.” While it is hard to find evidence of debt trap diplomacy, there are real concerns about debt sustainability.
Outcompeting China: A Roadmap for the U.S. By Clark Packard Rather than decoupling the two largest economies in the world, there is a smarter approach to confronting legitimate problems posed by China’s economic model.
The Importance of India & the Growing Chinese Threat By Rup Narayan Das Amid rising tensions with China, the relationship between the U.S. and India has been transformed from one of estranged democracies to engaged democracies.
When a Pandemic and an Epidemic Collide By Lisa Howley
Cover Story 12
EXIT INTERVIEW Q&A with Mac Thornberry From the Republican Revolution of 1994 to the global pandemic of 2020, the Texas Republican and retiring lawmaker reflects on some of the more notable developments over his 26 year congressional career.
Special Feature: Defense & Foreign Affairs 18
MEETING THE THREAT By Deb Fischer According to this Nebraska Senator, dangerous activity by Russia and China underscores the importance of enacting the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.
Transatlantic Relations in Flux By Andrew Michta We are at an inflection point after three post-Cold War decades, and the choices confronting the U.S. when it comes to its relations with Europe will shape transatlantic relations going forward.
Publisher The Ripon Society President Jim Conzelman Editorial Board Thomas Tauke Michael Castle Billy Pitts Pamela Sederholm Judy Van Rest Jim Murtha John Feehery
Editor Lou Zickar Deputy Editor Kyle Chance Advertising Coordinator Autumn Reed Editorial Intern Deirdre O’Rourke © Copyright 2020 By The Ripon Society All Rights Reserved
U.S. Foreign Policy After the Pandemic By Jessica Trisko Darden While conflict prevention has long been a focus of foreign assistance, the intersection of conflict prevention with other global challenges should be at the forefront of America’s response.
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In this Edition News & Events - coverage of a virtual discussion with U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Ripon Profile - U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner
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RIPON FORUM October 2020
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THE RIPON SOCIETY HONORARY CONGRESSIONAL ADVISORY BOARD U.S. Senators: Shelley Moore Capito - Senate Co-Chair Cory Gardner - Senate Co-Chair Marsha Blackburn Roy Blunt Richard Burr Bill Cassidy, M.D. Susan M. Collins Steve Daines Joni Ernst Deb Fischer John Hoeven Jerry Moran Pat Roberts Mike Rounds Thom Tillis Roger Wicker Todd Young U.S. Representatives: Susan W. Brooks - House Co-Chair Rodney Davis - House Co-Chair Greg Walden - House Co-Chair Jackie Walorski - House Co-Chair Martha Roby - Vice Chair, South Darin LaHood - Vice Chair, Midwest Mike Kelly - Vice Chair, Northeast Dan Newhouse - Vice Chair, West Frank Lucas - Vice Chair, Southwest Mark Amodei Don Bacon Troy Balderson Andy Barr Vern Buchanan Larry Bucshon, M.D. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. Ken Calvert Buddy Carter Tom Cole Doug Collins Paul Cook Tom Emmer Ron Estes Brian Fitzpatrick Bill Flores Kay Granger Sam Graves French Hill Bill Huizenga Bill Johnson Dave Joyce John Katko Adam Kinzinger Bob Latta Billy Long Kevin McCarthy Michael McCaul Cathy McMorris Rodgers Paul Mitchell John Moolenaar Tom Reed Tom Rice Steve Scalise John Shimkus Pete Stauber Steve Stivers Glenn “GT” Thompson Mac Thornberry Mike Turner Fred Upton Brad Wenstrup Steve Womack
In this edition
“There are some things you don’t want to be right about.” That was Mac Thornberry’s response when he was asked, in the days and weeks following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, how it felt to have introduced a bill to establish a Homeland Security Agency in March of that year, six months before the attacks occurred. John Barry could very well say the same thing today. Barry is the author of “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History.” Published in 2005, it tells the story of the deadly virus that swept across America and the world in the winter of 1918, killing as many as 100 million people around the globe. Barry’s book is back on the bestsellers list because many of the experiences — and mistakes — he wrote about are being repeated as America fights the coronavirus pandemic today. We talk to Barry in this latest edition of The Ripon Forum about this fight and the lessons that can be learned from the outbreak 102 years ago. “The virus is actually relatively easy to predict,” Barry said in our interview. “What you can’t really predict is human behavior.” We also talk with Mac Thornberry himself, who is retiring from Congress after 26 years in office and is the focus of our cover story. Thornberry was elected as part of the Republican Revolution of 1994 and is departing during the global pandemic of 2020. In between these two events, the Texas lawmaker saw — and helped shape — a number of other historic moments, the most significant of which, he says, was 9/11 and the ensuing effort to wage a war against terrorism overseas. “I’m absolutely convinced,” Thornberry says of this effort, “that if we had not taken the fight to the terrorists and kept on offense, that there would have been more 9/11s, and they may have been far worse.” Of course, the United States continues to face a threat from terrorism today. But an equally and in some ways even more daunting challenge that Thornberry and other key lawmakers are confronting these days is the rise of China and the resurgence of Russia. One of those lawmakers is Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer. Fischer serves as Chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. In this role, she has helped author the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, a measure that would not only continue the effort to rebuild our military after years of neglect, but reaffirm the notion that America should continue to be the preeminent power around the world. According to Fischer, it is a notion that has support on both sides of the political aisle. “The idea that America, not Russia or China, should play the leading role in world affairs is bipartisan,” she writes in an essay for this latest edition. “The Senate NDAA does more than any other bill in recent memory to promote U.S. leadership.” In addition to Thornberry and Fischer, this edition of the Forum also contains a number of other leading experts assessing some of the challenges facing the U.S. around the globe, including: Andrew Michta, writing about the transatlantic relationship and why European rearmament is so important to countering the Russian threat; David Dollar, writing about China’s Belt and Road Initiative seven years after President Xi Jinping gave a speech outlining the program’s ambitious reach; Clark Packard, writing about the U.S.-China trade relationship and whether decoupling the two countries’ economies is the right approach; Rup Narayan Das, writing about the importance of America’s relationship with India; and, Jessica Trisko Darden, examining U.S. foreign policy after the pandemic and four challenges that will need to be addressed. With regard to the continuing fight against COVID-19, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia pens an op-ed for this latest edition about closing the digital divide and the importance of making sure rural areas of the country are connected. And Lisa Howley looks at how the pandemic has made the opioid epidemic worse. And in our latest Ripon Profile, Missouri Congresswoman Ann Wagner discusses her role as Chair of the Suburban Caucus and the comprehensive plan she is spearheading to address the needs and concerns of a part of the electorate that could prove crucial to GOP electoral success. As always, we hope you enjoy this latest edition, and welcome any comments or questions you might have. Lou Zickar Editor of The Ripon Forum email@example.com RIPON FORUM October 2020
Politics & Perspective
The Fight Against COVID-19 and the Lessons of 1918 A Conversation with John Barry
It’s not often that a book becomes a #1 New York Times bestseller 15 years after being published, but that’s what happened earlier this spring to a book written by historian John Barry that was first published in 2005. Called “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History,” it is an account of the deadly virus that swept across America and the world in the winter of 1918, killing more people in 24 weeks than AIDS killed in 24 years, and more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century. In total, as many as 100 million people died around the globe, succumbing to a horrifying disease that not only often left its victims bleeding from their eyes, ears, noses, and mouths, but also saw them turn a ghastly shade of dark blue because of the oxygen that was being stolen from their blood. The outbreak occurred in the waning months of World War I, and the story Barry tells is of a country focused on one conflict and consumed by another. Caught off guard and unprepared for the pandemic, America’s leaders at first deny its existence and then downplay its severity, lest the Great Influenza get in the way of the effort to win the Great War. President Woodrow Wilson never mentions the disease in any of his public statements, and cities and towns across the country are left to fend for themselves. When Barry’s book was released, then-President George W. Bush was so affected by it that he launched an unprecedented three-year effort to prepare the country for the next outbreak. “A pandemic is a lot like a forest fire,” he said at the time. “If caught early it might be extinguished with limited damage. If allowed to smolder, undetected, it can grow to an inferno that can spread quickly beyond our ability to control it.” As the United States continues its battle against COVID-19 and tries to contain the same type of viral inferno that President Bush talked about, the Forum spoke with John Barry about the great influenza pandemic that paralyzed our country 102 years ago and the lessons it holds for today.
Forum: As we head into the fall, would you say worse? the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic of Barry: The virus is actually relatively easy 2020 has been better or worse than the U.S. response to predict. What you can’t really predict is human to the great influenza pandemic of 1918? behavior. We’ve seen an ebb and flow here. Things Barry: I’d say it’s been much worse. The reason will get bad in an area of the country, and people will is that in 1918, they really were take it very seriously, and it will caught by surprise. Obviously, get a lot better. Then they may science was not then where it is relax or some other area doesn’t The virus is now, and we were in the middle pay attention, and it gets bad actually relatively easy of a war. there. to predict. What you can’t Today, we had ample My expectation would be — warning, many, many more tools depending on when the weather really predict is human to use, a lot of planning, and a gets cold and people start going behavior. lot of preparation — all of which inside more — that things will get were pretty much thrown out the worse. If people behave properly, window. So I would say it’s much worse this time around. it is possible that the case counts will get lower. That would be wonderful. I don’t think that will happen, Forum: Based on America’s response so far, but it is certainly a possibility. what do you expect this fall to look like with regard The amazing thing about the whole process is that to the spread of COVID-19? Will things get better the world has demonstrated the ability to control this for the country or do you expect things will get outbreak through public health measures to an extent 4
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that I would never have imagined before this event occurred. Forum: Talk for a moment about the importance of communications. Americans are more connected and have more information at their fingertips than ever before. How has the wealth and immediacy of information we have today impacted how people view the pandemic, particularly when compared to 1918? Barry: As you say, the information is available. The question is, what source are you going to rely on? The biggest problem in this regard, of course, is Donald Trump. The irony is that if he had taken charge of this aggressively, I think he’d be in a very, very strong position for re-election. The only time his approval ratings cracked 50% was a few days after he said we were at war with the virus. People rally around a leader. In Germany, Merkel’s approval rating hit 77%. She had terrible ratings before the pandemic struck. But she was straightforward and assertive and honest in her handling of the pandemic, and her approval skyrocketed. Incidentally, the German economy is in infinitely greater shape than the American economy because they got control of the virus. Of course, Merkel is not the only one who told the truth from the beginning and also got control of the virus. Many, many countries around the world did that. That was not the case in the United States. For whatever bizarre reason, Trump saw this virus as a personal attack and responded as if it were a political enemy, first disparaging it as weak as he disparages all his enemies. Briefly, he would act like he took it seriously, but then he would step on his own lines. The result is that advice which public health experts unanimously agreed with was politicized. That’s quite an accomplishment, to politicize something like wearing a mask — and not a good one, not one to be proud of. Forum: How about the media? In your book, you write about how the media did not report on the severity of the outbreak in 1918. How is the press doing today? Barry: In 1918, they had an excuse – we were
at war. There was a context that was very important. [President] Wilson did everything within his power to gin up patriotic fervor. It was quite successful. And the press engaged in self-censorship. In other warring countries, there was outright censorship on both sides. The U.S. had very effective self-censorship, which was helped along by a law that Wilson enacted which made it punishable by 20 years in prison to write, print, or publish any disloyal, scurrilous, profane, or abusive language about the government of the United States. They actually prosecuted a Congressman and sentenced him to 10 years in prison under that law. When the pandemic started and one newspaper was actually telling the truth, the Army started prosecution proceedings against the editor and publisher, although they dropped it as the pandemic proceeded. So the newspapers were part of the patriotic fervor. This time around, I think most of the press, with the exception of Fox, has done a very good job in trying to get the truth out to people on the pandemic. You look at CNN and Sanjay Gupta was on there every night for an extended period of time answering people’s questions and giving people very good information. The national newspapers — the Post and the Times — have done an outstanding job, I think. In most crises, at least in my lifetime in fact, the press has risen to a very high standard. I look back at September 11th, for example, and think the press then, both TV and print, worked really hard to get real information and good information out. I think Fox has decided to play a different game, unfortunately. Forum: Talk briefly about how the influenza pandemic of 1918 came to an end. Was a vaccine found? Did herd immunity develop? Or was it a combination of both? Barry: There was no vaccine. They didn’t even know what a virus was. They knew that there were very, very small pathogens, which could pass through the smallest filter they had and they referred to as filterable viruses. They didn’t know if they were just really, really small bacteria or different kinds of organisms. Part of the progress in science that came out of the pandemic
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was defining what a virus was. They did develop several knows how long immunity will last. It remains an vaccines against bacterial pneumonias, which if you open question how much exposure you need to develop happened to get sick and you had a pneumonia caused immunity. There are now cases of people who seem to by a particular bacteria targeted by a vaccine you got, it have been infected twice. But when you have millions might have some effect. of cases, that’s not really unusual. It doesn’t necessarily What really happened was, in my view, two things. mean that immunity will not be long-lasting or at least Number one, the influenza virus mutates very, very lasting after exposure or vaccination. People respond rapidly, much faster than COVID-19 — or I should say differently to stimuli, whether it’s a pathogen, a vaccine, SARS-CoV-2. And my guess is that the virus mutated or any kind of drug. If the vaccine is pretty good, then it in the direction of mildness, which is the case for most comes down to how long it will take before it’s widely influenza viruses. At the distributed. I would guess same time, by the second that the earliest would be or third time that people late spring of 2021. began to see the virus, I know that there’s their immune systems were been some recent modeling much better able to deal on herd immunity that with it. It’s quite common suggests as little as 43% when a new pathogen enters of the population needs to a population, it wreaks be infected to significantly havoc. This occurs whether cut down transmission. it was the introduction That would be great if of smallpox, measles, or that were the truth — or I influenza into the New should say correct, since World in the 17th century, truth is a loaded term. That where these diseases wiped would be great if that were out Americans at much correct. But there are some higher rates than they killed recent studies in prisons John Barry Europeans; or whether that suggest that is not the it was in 1918, when in case, and that you need isolated populations which a much higher percentage had never seen any influenza of the population to be virus at all and 20 to 30% of infected before you slowed This virus is going to be the entire population die. transmission. You with us forever. It will be a new down So, number one, I think the know, 60 to 65% — which human disease. When we get an was actually the original virus itself changed, and number two, people were modeling estimate of Marc effective vaccine, then we can better able to deal with it at Harvard and probably get back to something Lipsitch when their immune systems some other people. And akin to normal. saw it again. herd immunity is not immunity. This disease Forum: Looking ahead, is not going away. It will how do you think the coronavirus pandemic will come continue to circulate. to an end and when do you think that will occur? Barry: Well, I think number one, this virus is Forum: So we’ve still got a lot more to learn going to be with us forever. It will be a new human about it, and we’ve still got a long way to go. disease. When we get an effective vaccine, then we can That’s sounds like what you’re saying. probably get back to something akin to normal. Nobody Barry: Absolutely. RF
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Better Connecting Rural America by SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO Our nation has experienced a difficult year because of house, thanks to USDA’s Community Connect program. The the coronavirus pandemic, and this has forced Americans to Stemples are one of 1,300 households and approximately reckon with the digital divide in our country. 3,500 people in the proposed funded service area. With the new norm of telework, virtual learning, and The Community Connect Program has historically been telehealth appointments, affordable and reliable service is a utilized source of funding for broadband projects in the state; more critical than ever. however, between 2011 and 2015, there were no successful While we’ve seen progress, awards or applications submitted in too many West Virginians still lack the state. access to high speed broadband. Introducing state and local I’ve always said if we can governments to the federal communicate with humans on the opportunities available is an moon, surely we can find a way important part of my job, and it’s to deliver reliable broadband here a key part of the Capito Connect on Planet Earth. This is one of initiative. the reasons I launched my Capito Since the launch of my Capito Connect initiative in 2015 as a way to Connect initiative, both applications tackle this. and awards for the Community The three-part plan accomplishes Connect program have increased. this goal by understanding the In the last four years, multiple benefits of connectivity, fostering applications for funding have been collaboration between government submitted, and there have been four and the private sector, and promoting successful applications totaling economic growth through innovation. nearly $11 million. Since launching this initiative, I Now, Beverly and Jeff can have taken several steps to increase effectively work from home and connectivity and bridge the digital communicate online with loved ones If we can communicate divide. I’ve heard from thousands of who live far away. with humans on the West Virginians during a state-wide Coronavirus has also put a moon, surely we can listening tour, hosted roundtable premium on telehealth services. Just discussions, released a guidebook last week, I visited Lincoln Primary find a way to deliver to help communities understand Center (LPCC) that received an reliable broadband here Care the federal resources available, and FCC telehealth grant. With this grant, on Planet Earth. coached West Virginians on these LPCC was able to purchase telehealth opportunities. “terminals” – specialized computer The reality is that broadband stations for online checkups. in rural areas like West Virginia is extremely expensive Telehealth is reducing costs and improving outcomes and buildout takes more time to complete because of our for patients everywhere. Because of the pandemic, we better mountainous terrain. But even with these obstacles, I’ve been understand how important telehealth is to bring high-quality working to leverage federal resources to help produce this care directly to patients in their homes. infrastructure. So, what’s next? How can we build on this progress? The Trump Administration has made rural broadband a How do we apply the lessons we’ve learned during COVID priority, and several agencies have stepped up to the plate to to strengthen connectivity? help, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)and One major undertaking is improving broadband maps the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). with more granular data. Far too often, these maps show Last month, I was in rural Preston County witnessing the rural areas that are “covered,” but we know—by living in and installation of broadband service in Beverly and Jeff Stemple’s driving through these areas—that this is not the case. RIPON FORUM October 2020
This data collection and correction is a tedious but as infrastructure. A “dig once” approach would save time crucial step, as these data maps often determine funding and money: as improvements are being made to roads and levels and what areas get prioritized. highways, fiber conduit should be installed simultaneously. As co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, I coThe good news is this connectivity conundrum affects sponsored the Broadband DATA Act, which President nearly every state, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle Trump signed into law in are eager to work on solutions March. together. This law will lead to the I expect investments in This connectivity conundrum creation of a singular federal broadband — particularly for affects nearly every state, and broadband map with new, schools and medical providers lawmakers on both sides of more granular data collected — to be part of any future by the FCC and shared with coronavirus relief package. the aisle are eager to work on other federal agencies that Perhaps one upside of this solutions together. provide broadband funding pandemic is that it has made us support, like NTIA and USDA. better appreciate the time we Furthermore, it creates a challenging process for state and can physically spend with each other. local governments, consumers, and third parties to submit That human connection is so important, which makes their own data to more accurately reflect the coverage in our work on broadband all the more important now. Housetheir areas. Lastly, the bill requires a regular audit of the by-house and mile-by-mile, I’ll continue working to close the data submitted by providers and allows for crowdsourcing digital divide in West Virginia and across the country. RF to verify and supplement coverage data submitted by providers. Shelley Moore Capito is the Junior U.S. Senator from the Another step forward would be dovetailing road State of West Virginia. She serves as Co-chair of the Senate infrastructure with fiber buildout. We all recognize broadband Broadband Caucus.
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When a Pandemic and an Epidemic Collide by LISA HOWLEY Anxiety. Stress. Isolation. Grief. For far too long, these words have been used to developing effective treatments for both COVID-19 describe the consequences of the epidemic of substance and SUD. The Association of American Medical use disorders that has devastated communities across Colleges, which represents the academic medicine the country. Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic piles community, is committed to supporting all of our on the uncertainty for individuals, families, and members’ efforts to improve the lives of patients and communities, it is also threatening the progress of the health of our nation. people with a substance use disorder (SUD) and putting As an educational psychologist, I have the honor others at risk of developing one. of supporting our constituents Although we don’t yet know in their efforts to practice the full picture of the pandemic’s medicine, teach, and conduct impact on the opioid epidemic, research. During this pandemic, we do know that in 2018 the I have not only seen the toll it number of people suffering from is taking, but I have also seen a substance use disorder topped firsthand their commitment 20 million and just 11 percent to patient care. The academic of those in need of treatment medicine community has and were able to receive it. Since the continues to step up despite the pandemic began, more than 40 challenges they are facing and states have reported increases those who teach doctors and the in substance-related deaths, next generation of scientists and particularly those related to clinicians are finding innovative illicitly manufactured fentanyl, ways to respond to the epidemic methamphetamine, cocaine, and of addiction amid the pandemic Lisa Howley heroin. of COVID-19. People are hesitant to seek Although all of our members medical treatment, including are teaching content related to Since the pandemic for SUD, for fear of catching addiction, we recently awarded began, more than 40 COVID-19. And for many grants to nine diverse institutions months during the early days of states have reported in particular— Arizona State the pandemic, while cities and University, Penn State College increases in substancestates were enforcing lockdowns, of Medicine, Stony Brook related deaths. those treatment facilities may not University, The Robert Larner, have even been open. But no two M.D. College of Medicine at experiences are identical. For the University of Vermont, some with SUD, social distancing may have helped The University of Florida College of Medicine, The keep them away from dangerous substances or harmful University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School, influences. But for others, the loneliness of isolation University of Alabama at Birmingham, Vanderbilt could make their situations much worse. The pandemic University Medical Center, and the Zucker School of may be unprecedented, but the consequences of an Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell—to develop tools and economic downturn have been seen before. resources to help advance teaching and learning in At the frontlines of both the COVID-19 pandemic areas such as pain management and addiction. and the substance use epidemic are academic medical The pandemic has caused these teams to rethink, centers, comprised of medical schools and teaching realign, and reset their goals, each in different ways. hospitals that are caring for patients while also But one of the unanticipated benefits is that these teaching health care professionals and researching and educational innovations, born of the unprecedented RIPON FORUM October 2020
circumstances of COVID-19, can have lasting positive how their innovations will equip tomorrow’s teams effects. For example, education that does not require to provide even more optimal care. However, we also immediate direct patient contact has shifted to remote look forward to seeing related regulatory changes delivery and educators and students have more fully such as the permanent expansion of telehealth services realized the benefits of on-demand and just-in-time and the removal of the X waiver requirement for the learning. In addition, the treatment of addiction. pandemic has called for As we continue increased attention to a to face this national Those who teach doctors and the broader health care team. epidemic of addiction and next generation of scientists and Interprofessional learning a global novel coronavirus to address a public health pandemic, our academic clinicians are finding innovative crisis, such as COVID-19 medicine community ways to respond to the epidemic and the opioid epidemic, will continue to serve on of addiction amid the pandemic has expanded to include the frontline. They will non-traditional members, do so with continued of COVID-19. such as the patient, the conviction to treat their family members, and a patient’s diseases, whether recovery coach. These teams are learning to deliver COVID-19, addiction, or otherwise. And that means care in new ways, such as creating online support they need our support now more than ever. RF groups to providing easier access to medications for addiction through telehealth. Lisa Howley is the Senior Director of Strategic In the coming months, we look forward to Initiatives and Partnerships at the Association of learning more about the work of these institutions and American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
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From the Republican Revolution of 1994 to the Global Pandemic of 2020, Mac Thornberry reflects on the past 26 years. Mac Thornberry was first elected to represent the 13th Congressional District of Texas as part of the Republican Revolution of 1994. In the years since, he has established a reputation as one of the leading authorities on national security issues on Capitol Hill. He has also become known for his ability to look over the horizon. In the mid-1990s, for example, he was one of the few members of Congress talking about the Revolution in Military Affairs and the need to increase our investment in such areas as special forces and unmanned aerial drones. In the late-1990s, he saw that the nationâ€™s nuclear weapons complex needed reforming and introduced a bill to do just that. When the Wen Ho Lee spy scandal revealed holes in our nuclear security, his legislation became the basis for a package of reforms that, among other things, established the National Nuclear Security Administration. A few years later, Thornberry was â€“ unfortunately -- proven right once again. 12
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In March 2001, he introduced a bill to establish a Homeland Security Department so America was better prepared for a terrorist attack. On September 10, the bill had only a handful of cosponsors. By the following June, it became the basis for legislation that was signed into law. When asked later about the legislation and the fact that he had introduced it six months before 9/11, he said simply, “There are some things you don’t want to be right about.” Thornberry went on to serve four years as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and currently serves as its Ranking Member. His tenure as Chairman was marked by three qualities — a commitment to rebuilding our Armed Forces after a period when our military was underfunded and being stretched too thin; a commitment to continuing to take the long view of the challenges facing our nation, whether it is the rise of China or the resurgence of Russia; and, a commitment to bipartisanship and making sure that U.S. defense policy has support on both sides of the political aisle. Defense News once called him “a smart hawk who’s not afraid to buck the party line,” while National Journal called him “the E.F. Hutton of Congress” (because when he talks, everyone listens.) Last fall, Thornberry announced that this would be his last term in office. To honor his service and recognize his contributions to our military and national security, this year’s National Defense Authorization Act was renamed the ‘William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act.’ The Ripon Forum spoke to Thornberry recently about his service in Congress over the past 26 years, and the challenges facing America as it continues its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and confronts a growing number of threats in an increasingly volatile world.
of the internet and social media to the Supreme Court Forum: You came to Congress as part of the decision which allowed outside groups to spend Republican revolution in 1994 and are leaving unlimited amounts of money on campaigns, the during the global pandemic of 2020. These two political environment we’re all operating in is very events alone would be enough to define someone’s different than it was in 1995. career, and yet you have seen and served during a number of momentous developments over the Forum: Staying on the subject of national past 26 years. In your opinion, what were the security, talk for a moment about some of the most pivotal of these developments in reshaping security challenges that not only the political we face. Again, when landscape of Washington, you came into office, but the geopolitical I’m absolutely convinced that America was the world’s landscape around the if we had not taken the fight preeminent economic world? to the terrorists and kept on and military superpower. Thornberry: When it Today, Russia is comes to national security, offense, that there would have resurgent, China is on you have to say that 9/11 was been more 9/11s, and they may the rise and global Jihadi the most significant event, have been far worse. terrorists continue to be a not just because of the lives threat. Did the world get lost and the next 20 years more dangerous because of fighting terrorists. But we let our guard down or was our preeminence it was such a shock for Americans to realize that we bound to be challenged in this way? were not insulated here at home, and that we could be Thornberry: I think both are true. It is really attacked here at home. The whole mindset, I think, was hard for Americans to stay vigilant. We are very good significantly different because we were used to feeling at rising up to meet a specific threat, and then going we’re protected by our oceans and that we’ve got the back to our daily lives once we believe the threat strongest military in the world. No one could get at us. has gone away. Part of it is the fact that America Well, it turned out they could. I think that was a key has always had isolationist tendencies. We want change when it comes to American national security. to just mind our own business, trading with other There have been tremendous changes in the political nations while staying out of their quarrels. This was world. I don’t know that I could go through them all, especially true after the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold but from the proliferation of media outlets to the growth RIPON FORUM October 2020
War ended. Staying vigilant was hard for us. And then reform and investments into new technologies have we had 9/11. And while we focused our energies on been such a priority for the Committee in recent years. defeating the terrorist threat, the threat from Russia, China, and others was allowed to grow. Forum: Looking back on the years you’ve In many ways, we face more complex dangers been in office, what, in your opinion, were some today than we ever have before. Even during the Cold of the key decisions made by Congress and the War, we had the focus and we put a lot of effort into not President that served to strengthen our national just building weapons, but into understanding Russia, defense and keep the American people more their mindset and so forth. Today, our challenge is to secure? understand a lot of different mindsets, a lot of different Thornberry: The reaction that the nation had to kinds of military capabilities, and so forth. We can’t 9/11 in the form of the authorizations to use military afford to just focus on just one thing. We’ve got to force, but also the funding in the years thereafter, have worry about the whole range of challenges, and that been very important. The hard thing about national translates not only into budgetary implications, but security is taking into account the events that did not mindset implications, as well. take place. I’m absolutely convinced that if we had not taken the fight to the terrorists and kept on offense, that Forum: Looking at the budgetary implications, there would have been more 9/11s, and they may have at the height of World War II in 1944, we were been far worse. So if you look at the last 20 years at spending about 35% of our least, the bipartisan decision to GDP on national defense. go on offense against terrorists Today, that figure has was very significant, and I dropped to about 3%. As have no doubt saved American We’re not putting the dollars Chairman of the Armed into defense that we need to. lives. Services Committee, you Fifteen percent of the federal led the effort to rebuild our Forum: Following up military and invest more in on that and the flip side budget goes to defense these our national defense after of the same coin, what days, and yet everything else were some of the decisions years of sharp decline. But depends on it. how much of our security that were not made that in depends on dollars and your opinion left us more cents, and how much of it vulnerable to threat or depends on making sure attack? this money is spent in a smarter way? Thornberry: Well, the first thing that comes to my Thornberry: You have to focus on both. As a mind is Congress’s irresponsibility when it comes to result of the Obama years, we saw what happens when funding the military. I think of Secretary Mattis’s quote, we don’t put enough dollars into defense. In real terms, where he said that, ‘No enemy in the field has done it was cut about 20%. One of the consequences of that more damage to our country than continuing resolutions was you saw service member accidents and service have done.’ member deaths in training go up pretty significantly. It This is especially true when you’re looking at how was really that increase in training deaths that helped we protect the country against the threat coming from convince, I think, Members of Congress in both parties Russia, China, and others. You’ve got to have consistent that we had to reverse that trend and put more money funding in order to develop new capabilities and in into the military, just to be fair and responsible to the order to reassure allies, among other reasons. Generally people who are out there risking their lives for us. speaking, Congress has not done that. And there are But that just takes care of what we have. That does consequences that flow from that. I can’t say there not address the threat coming from China, Russia, and has been any specific attack, but certainly our national others. Various commissions have said you need 3% to security posture has been damaged because of it. 5% real growth in defense spending in order to meet the challenges we face in this regard. We’re not doing Forum: Shifting our attention away from that. We’re not putting the dollars into defense that we Washington, you’ve always had a reputation need to. Fifteen percent of the federal budget goes to as someone who believes that a person needs defense these days, and yet everything else depends on to see the world in order to better understand it. Now, clearly at the same time, we’ve also got to make it. You’ve met with foreign leaders, visited U.S. sure that we’re spending that money smarter and more bases overseas, and met with American troops in efficiently. That’s part of the reason that acquisition combat zones around the globe. Looking back on 14
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the world. As for the kind of threat that I am most concerned about — and this’ll seem like I’m following the headlines — but every year in which I chaired the Emerging Threats Subcommittee, I had a hearing on biological threats. I observed a tabletop exercise shortly after 9/11. And the premise was that terrorists were spreading an animal disease around the country. And when you looked at what it took — not just to identify it, but to contain it — it brought the country to a standstill. And I’ve thought of that many times with COVID, because that is what we’re seeing happen today. And I think there are countries around the world that are watching and learning about what’s happening right now. It’s hard to know whether something is naturally occurring, or are manmade or man spread. And so the biological threat is one that I am most concerned about, because it’s so hard for us to deal with and yet has such devastating consequences. Forum: A few years back, Bob Gates Forum: Let’s talk said that “the greatest Thornberry’s official portrait was officially about the future. We’re unveiled on September 16th and will be hung national security threat in the middle of the in the main hearing room of the House Armed to this country at this worst pandemic in Services Committee, joining the portraits of point is the two square over a hundred years 14 other former Committee Chairmen. miles that encompasses in a global threat the Capitol building environment that can and the White House.” best be described as unstable. What keeps you awake at night and Do you agree with him? Is political dysfunction what areas when it comes to our national security, a threat to our security? And if so, how do the do you think Congress and the President need to parties come together to do what’s in our best interest down the road? pay special attention to in the years ahead? Thornberry: Political dysfunction is clearly a Thornberry: The number one thing that keeps me awake, that worries me, is not something threat to our national security. On the other hand, somebody else does. It is what we do to ourselves. I bipartisanship on national security can be one of our am absolutely convinced that we can protect American country’s greatest strengths. We saw that after 9/11, security, America’s way of life, and our values if we and we have seen it on other occasions. Right now, decide to. That’s why these budgetary decisions and one of the only issue areas that is receiving bipartisan similar sorts of political decisions that Congress and support is support for our military. We were able to Presidents make are so important. And that’s the thing pass the Defense Authorization bill out of the House I worry about the most — whether we will decide to by a vote of 295 to 125. The Senate passed their put the resources into it, support the men and women version of the bill with a similar level of bipartisan who are risking their lives for us, and be engaged in support. But it’s getting harder and harder to hold this it all, what are some of your main memories and takeaways from these missions and these trips that you’ve made? Thornberry: Oh, I think clearly the best part of international travel has been when I’ve gotten to be with our troops and walk with them or be with them as they carry out their missions for the country. Now, obviously they don’t allow us to go into dangerous places. But I think of walking through some of the villages in Afghanistan. I think of staying up all night as operations were being conducted to remove terrorists from the battlefield. There is no substitute for at least being close at hand and seeing what incredible professionals we have who are protecting our safety and freedom. That’s clearly the best part. I would say sometimes I felt a little weird being in the Kremlin, being in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, and so forth. It’s kinda like, “What is this kid from Clarendon, Texas doing in this place?” But the best part has been with the troops.
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together because of the pressures of polarization. So Forum: Since we are talking about advice, our political system can be our greatest strength or our what advice do you have for your colleagues as greatest weakness. And we’re seeing elements of both you prepare to leave the Hill after 26 years? sides of that today. Thornberry: We’ve talked about it. My number one piece of advice is do everything you can to try to Forum: Let’s finish with a Barbara Walters-like maintain bipartisan support for our military. And I would question. And it’s not, “If you were a tree, what kind also add to that maintain the bipartisan approach to of tree would you be?” engagement with the world Rather, the question is this: that has been so successful If you could have dinner for us and for the world since The biological threat is one with any three individuals the end of World War II. that I am most concerned in history, who would they Back to your previous about, because it’s so hard be and what advice would question, if I have one other they have for the American worry that keeps me up at for us to deal with and people today? night, it is that we have lost yet has such devastating Thornberry: Well, I’ve sight of what a series of consequences. got three busts in my office remarkable decisions we — of Lincoln, Churchill, and made right after World War Ronald Reagan. If I were II, and how we have benefited going to have dinner with them, I would want to do it one in the years since. And you see elements in both parties at a time so I could listen to each one individually. Now, I who seem to be willing to walk away from keeping a don’t know what they would say about the challenges we strong military and from being engaged in the world. face today, but I absolutely believe that we can learn from And man — I think it’s so important that we hang on their example. While they had very different challenges to that success. Of course, it needs to be adjusted to and very different circumstances, we can learn from how meet the realities of today. But we need to maintain this they dealt with what they were faced with, and we can also approach that has been so successful for us and for most learn from their character and the example that set. others in the world. RF
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RIPON FORUM October 2020
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Special Feature: Defense & Foreign Affairs
MEETING THE THREAT
Dangerous activity of Russia and China underscores importance of enacting the NDAA by DEB FISCHER At the end of August, Russian soldiers crashed their This year’s National Defense Authorization Act, the vehicle into a U.S. military vehicle in Syria, injuring Senate version of which passed 86-14, helps resource the several U.S. service members. A few days later, two Department to carry this mission out in the face of these Russian fighter jets harassed a U.S. B-52 bomber over growing threats. It also includes the largest troop pay the Black Sea, intentionally operating in a provocative increase in nearly a decade, as well as several provisions and reckless manner. that will support our military Incidents like these have families through employment grown more common in recent opportunities and child care. years as Russia, under President I represent Nebraska, Vladimir Putin, has set out on a the home of U.S. Strategic quest to become a global power Command, which is responsible once more. Since 2012, Moscow for strategic deterrence, has invaded and annexed the nuclear and space operations, Crimean Peninsula, significantly and missile defense, among expanded its presence in Syria, other things. As the chairman where it supports the dictator of the Senate Armed Services Bashar al-Assad, and interfered Subcommittee on Strategic in democratic elections around Forces, which oversees the world. STRATCOM’s activities, I am China, too, poses a growing proud that the Senate NDAA threat to the interests of the also includes funding for free world. Just a few weeks many of the command’s top ago, they test-fired weapons priorities. widely regarded as having been The FY 2021 NDAA developed specifically to threaten authorizes funding for one of U.S. Navy ships, including my highest priorities in the “carrier killer” missiles, into the Senate: nuclear modernization. The idea that America, South China Sea, an area that is Despite being the bedrock of not Russia or China, contested under international law our national security, much of but which Beijing claims as its our nuclear deterrent has been should play the leading own. And like Russia’s illegal in service since the Cold War. role in world affairs is annexation of Crimea in 2014, All three legs of our nuclear bipartisan. China broke their “one country, triad have been extended far two systems” promise to Hong beyond their original service Kong earlier this year, and has lives, and 30% of the facilities perpetrated an ongoing campaign of mass incarceration at the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiagainst millions of its Uighur citizens. autonomous agency within the Department of Energy The Trump Administration has been more realistic that oversees the warheads themselves, date to the about Chinese and Russian ambitions than its predecessor. Manhattan Project and early Cold War era. According It moved swiftly to increase defense spending, and in to our top military officials, it is simply not possible 2018 it released its National Defense Strategy, which to keep our oldest weapons in service any longer. As firmly places strategic competition with these two Admiral Charles Richard, the STRATCOM commander, countries at the forefront of the Department of Defense’s unequivocally testified before Congress earlier this planning. year, the “sustainment and modernization of our nuclear 18
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forces has transitioned from something we should do to The idea that America, not Russia or China, should something that we must do.” play the leading role in world affairs is bipartisan. The Bringing this deterrent up to date will take many Senate NDAA does more than any other bill in recent years, and it requires sustained political and budgetary memory to promote U.S. leadership, and my Republican support. The Senate’s bill provides both. and Democratic colleagues in the Senate recognized this Nebraska is also home to the 55th Wing, a unit of the and largely voted for its passage. Air Force that carries out global Congress has passed the intelligence, surveillance, NDAA every year for the past and reconnaissance missions. 60 years, fulfilling its duty to The Senate NDAA does The Air Force has shrunk to our military, their families, more than any other bill in a historically small size, and and our national security. recent memory to promote it is critical we invest in its As we approach the end of modernization and growth. For 2020, the Senate and House of U.S. leadership. this reason, the NDAA includes Representatives are preparing language I authored to help to meet in conference to reach the goals of Air Force We Need, while supporting discuss our versions of the bill. important new technologies and platforms. During this process, we cannot lose sight of our This bill also includes support for the State greatest geopolitical threats: Russia and China. The Partnership Program, enabling National Guard units and future of our country depends on enacting a bill that puts partner militaries in other countries to train together. One America first and protects our people. RF of America’s greatest strengths is our network of allies, who share our values and whose support will be crucial U.S. Senator Deb Fischer is Nebraska’s senior senator to the free world’s long-term competition with Russia and and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. China. Projects like the State Partnership Program help to She serves as the chairman of the Subcommittee on strengthen these alliances and even to cultivate new ones. Strategic Forces.
How the Senate NDAA Prioritizes Strategic Competition with China and Russia •
Extends the limitation on providing sensitive missile defense information to Russia and on the integration of U.S. missile defense systems into those of China and Russia,
Requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a report on the risk to DOD personnel, equipment, and operations due to Huawei 5G architecture in host countries and possible steps for mitigation,
Requires the Secretary of Defense to consider 5G and 6G security risks posed by vendors like Huawei and ZTE when making overseas basing decisions,
Protects the defense industrial base and supply chain, as well as intellectual property and
technology, from disruption, infiltration, or theft by the Government of China (see "Innovation Base"), Fully funds the European Deterrence Initiative and increases funding to support rotational forces in Europe,
Requires a report on Russian support to racially and ethnically motivated violent extremist groups and networks in Europe and the United States that creates or causes growing national security threats, information warfare, and increasing risks to societal stability and democratic institutions,
Extends restrictions on military-to-military cooperation with Russia and any activities that would recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea,
Expresses a sense of the Senate that long-term strategic competition with Russia is a top defense priority that requires sustained investment and enhanced deterrence due to the level of threat posed, Prohibits the Secretary of Defense from using any funds to reduce air base resiliency or demolish protected aircraft shelters in the European theater without creating similar protection, or to close or return to host nations existing airbases until the Secretary certifies there is no need for a rotational military presence in the European theater.
Source: Senate Armed Services Committee
RIPON FORUM October 2020
Source: American Action Forum
Transatlantic Relations in Flux
The Defining Question of European Rearmament
by ANDREW A. MICHTA One need only pick up the paper, tune into a television a number of U.S. allies. news program, or go on social media to see that U.S. One reason for the current flux in transatlantic relations relations with Europe are anything but “business as is a direct consequence of the end of the Cold War. The usual,” and that the differences do not concern simply the 1990 unification of Germany and the subsequent implosion personal styles of President Trump or individual European of the Warsaw Pact, and ultimately the Soviet Union itself, leaders. changed the relative power equation Since so much coverage is both on the Continent and globally. focused on personalities, the media On one hand, the United States often miss the larger structural emerged from the Cold War as the shifts underway in transatlantic sole superpower, with resources relations, with editorializing that prompted many to speak of the frequently obscuring what is taking dawning of an era of “unipolarity” place. In reality, the devolution of in which America would become transatlantic relations goes beyond a de facto global hegemon, its any particular administration – power unmatched. At the same though the tenor of it has varied time, with the disappearance of over time – and reflects fundamental the Soviet threat, Europe’s need shifts in power distribution and for American security guarantees the geostrategic challenges facing declined exponentially, for the allies the United States and its European no longer confronted a hostile bloc allies. intent on invading them should war We are at an inflection point break out. after three post-Cold War decades, This was visible not only in the and the choices confronting the dramatic cuts in European defense Andrew A. Michta United States when it comes to its budgets across the board, but also in relations with Europe, including the way in which NATO’s objectives NATO, our oldest alliance, will We are at an inflection were redefined in the 1990s and shape transatlantic relations going the first decade of the 2000s, with point after three postforward. There are a number of “out of area operations” such as Cold War decades, and differences between the United Kosovo and NATO enlargement into States and its allies in Europe when the choices confronting former Eastern Europe becoming it comes to the economy and trade the United States when defining missions. Moreover, the relations, from Germany’s decision continued weakening of the Russian it comes to its relations Federation under President Yeltsin, to go ahead with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline with Russia despite U.S. with Europe ... will as well as Russia’s failed efforts to opposition to it, through the use of democratize and create a market shape transatlantic Huawei G5 technology in some economy, were seen as a vindication relations going European networks, which the that Francis Fukuyama’s “end of U.S. opposes on security grounds, forward. history” was indeed coming to pass to weapons platform acquisitions, and that the liberal international most notably Germany’s decision order was ascendant around the not to include the F-35 into its fifth-generation aircraft globe. The U.S. approach to communist China during the competition. Still, no issue has registered as significantly past three decades also reflected the seemingly boundless as the question of defense spending, and what the Trump confidence of American policy elites that globalization Administration has considered “free-riding” on defense by and export-driven modernization would transform the 20
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PRC into a “responsible stakeholder in the international voiced by a number of U.S. administrations – Democrat system.” And as the United States post-9/11 pursued the and Republican alike. Rather, the urgency of the issue Global War on Terror and Europeans lent limited support reflects the realization in Washington today that the West to American counterterrorist campaigns, there were early faces two near-peer competitors when it comes to military warning signs (the 2003 Iraq war) that a number of our power, with Russia acting as a revisionist power intent key allies in Europe were not willing to sign on to the US on revising the post-Cold War order, and China as a state national security agenda. determined to replace the U.S.-led international system It took multiple warning shots in the 2000s, from the with a version of its own. The United States sees China Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 to Putin’s seizure of today as both a military and economic problem set, while Crimea in 2014 followed by a war in western Ukraine, Europe still looks at China as mainly an economic issue, to finally shake the policy consensus. Most important which although increasingly problematic, nonetheless among them were the provides a key economic 2008 economic crisis and opportunity, especially (for Europe) the 2015as China’s Belt and Road 16 immigration wave Initiative and its 17+1 from the Middle East format for engagement and Africa for which the with Europe carry with European Union was it (from the vantage woefully unprepared and point of Europe’s largest which began to fragment economies) the promise of the EU’s already tenuous greater access to the Asian internal cohesion. The market. 2016 election of Donald With the United States Trump as President not Joint Force no longer only shocked the European structured to engage policy establishment, for in two major theater German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks to soldiers of virtually no European operations at the same the German armed forces Bundeswehr during a traincapital expected it, but also time after almost 20 years ing exercise in May 2019. added to the friction when of continuous warfare, it came to intra-NATO European rearmament relations, for President is critical to ensure that, With the United States Joint Trump had insisted from in the event of a crisis his first day in office in the Indo-Pacific that Force no longer structured to that the Europeans fulfill would focus our attention engage in two major theater their pledge to spent 2% and resources there, operations at the same time after of their GDP on defense, deterrence against Russia arguing that the current holds. This makes the almost 20 years of continuous arrangement in which the issue of defense spending warfare, European rearmament United States contributes by the Europeans a vital is critical... 70% of all NATO defense one. The key question spending was simply for transatlantic relations unfair when it came to today is whether our burden-sharing. Although the European allies did step up principal allies on the Continent, especially Germany, will on defense, increasing their outlays by $43 billion between reach a broader consensus with the United States about 2016-18 (and, according to NATO Secretary-General the nature of the threat confronting us all and about the Jens Stoltenberg, promising to increase their outlays by actions the allies must take to keep NATO viable. RF an additional $400 billion by 2024), only seven of the now 30 member-states have met the requirement, and the Andrew A. Michta is the dean of the College of situation is even more dire when it comes to the ability International and Security Studies at the George C. of individual nations to field real, usable, and exercised Marshall European Center for Security Studies in defense capabilities. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The views presented The defense spending issue remains central from are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the the U.S. perspective not so much because of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security administration’s allegedly “transactional” approach, for Studies, the Department of Defense, or the United States complaints about insufficient defense spending were Government. RIPON FORUM October 2020
Seven Years into China’s Belt and Road The sweeping initiative is providing benefits to developing countries. But at what cost? by DAVID DOLLAR President Xi Jinping of China proposed the Belt countries is uncorrelated with measures of democracy: and Road Initiative (BRI) in a pair of speeches in in other words, other major borrowers are democracies 2013. In Kazakhstan, he outlined a vision of restoring such as South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Indonesia, or overland trade routes from China to Central Asia and Brazil. A World Bank study in 2019 examined the Europe — the ancient “Silk Road.” In Indonesia, he transport projects along the introduced the concept of a overland and maritime routes. “maritime Silk road,” which It concluded that there were is essentially the already wellpotentially large benefits to the traveled sea corridor South recipient countries and to the from China to the Middle world if transport costs could East and Europe. In seven be reduced through improved years of implementation, the infrastructure. But the study initiative has become quite also found that in many cases controversial, especially in policy impediments were the West. The controversy greater than infrastructure is fueled by a lack of impediments – that is, transparency that makes import tariffs, investment it difficult to get reliable restrictions, customs delays, information on the financing bureaucracy, red tape, and involved in the initiative, as corruption often increase well as the specific projects trade costs dramatically. The and their terms. There are a clear point from this study is growing number of academic that improving the investment efforts, however, to collect David Dollar climate is a necessary and analyze data on BRI, with complement to investing in a consistent set of findings. infrastructure. One practical Despite the name, the way to do this is through deep program is global, not confined Despite the name, trade agreements such as the to the specific corridors. It the program is global, not Trans-Pacific Partnership is primarily a program to which includes some important fund infrastructure. About confined to the specific developing economies such as two-thirds of the financing corridors. It is primarily Colombia, Malaysia, Peru, goes to power and transport. a program to fund and Vietnam. The U.S. could Total funding has been on the have tied this group of Asiaorder of $50-100 billion per infrastructure. Pacific economies much year. Most of the loans are in closer to our system but chose dollars on commercial terms to drop out. Meanwhile, that are more generous than developing countries can get from private investors, China has reached a trade liberalization agreement but much more costly than funds from Western donors among ASEAN, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and or the concessional windows of the multilateral New Zealand. It is not a deep agreement, but it does development banks. A number of major clients of eliminate tariffs on parts and components and lays a China are well-known pariah states such as Iran or foundation for Asian value chains that exclude the U.S. BRI raises a number of issues for the U.S. Venezuela. But overall Chinese financing across 22
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American officials have criticized the program as “debt on debt relief to ensure that there is not a new round of trap diplomacy.” This fear seems exaggerated. Most debt crises paralyzing the developing world. of the countries borrowing from China also borrow The U.S. has launched a new development from Western donors, the multilateral banks, and finance institution to compete with China. Providing private bond holders. They have diversified sources developing countries with more financing sources is a of finance, and there is no reason to think that they are smart strategy, but this initiative by itself will probably particularly beholden to China. The exceptions would not change the picture very much. Developing countries be the pariah states, and in developing a strategy for have various funding sources already. They prefer to dealing with Venezuela or Iran it is important to take use Chinese financing for big projects in transport into account China’s investments and interests there. and power for specific reasons. Private funding While it is hard to find evidence of debt trap is too expensive and short-term (usually max five diplomacy, there are years). Western donors real concerns about debt and their multilateral sustainability that are banks give grants or relevant for all lenders. lend on extraordinarily Foreign debt is different generous terms. But from domestic debt in these traditional donors that it ultimately has to prefer to finance social be serviced via exports, services, administration, and there are clear democracy-promotion limits to how much debt – they have gotten out poor countries can take of hard infrastructure on. Furthermore, the almost completely. In its pandemic and recession early days, 70% of World drive home how Bank financing went to quickly the perception economic infrastructure; of sustainability now, it is around 30%. can change. Prior Related to that, doing American officials have to COVID-19, most big infrastructure with criticized the program as “debt developing countries the Western donors is looked good in terms bureaucratic and timetrap diplomacy” … While it of debt sustainability, consuming; basically, is hard to find evidence of according to IMF poor countries have debt trap diplomacy, there analysis. But the to follow first-world recession is having a regulations. So, countries are real concerns about debt devastating effect on rationally allocate China sustainability that are relevant GDP and exports. Of to do transport and power, for all lenders. China’s main clients in the Western donors to do Africa, a majority are social sectors, and private now in debt distress or at bondholders to provide high risk of debt distress. China has joined the other general, short-term budget finance. G20 countries in offering poor countries a moratorium In summary, a more effective response to BRI on on debt servicing during 2020. For China’s 15 big the part of the U.S. would: embrace new, deep trade clients in Africa, its share of 2020 debt servicing agreements that would improve the investment climate is about one-third – a figure that shows both the in developing countries and tie them more closely to importance of Chinese finance but also that other the U.S.; lead a reform of the multilateral banks and official creditors and the private sector are collectively its new finance institution that would streamline the even more important. China’s participation in the red tape around infrastructure projects and provide debt moratorium is positive, though it is only a an attractive alternative; dial down the anti-China small first step since interest will be accruing and rhetoric; and encourage China to be more transparent debt burdens rising. Some countries are likely to and to provide more generous terms and participate in need debt restructuring or write-downs, normally debt relief as needed. RF organized through the Paris Club, of which China is not a member. The U.S. has an interest in drawing David Dollar is a Senior Fellow in the John L. China into the Paris Club and cooperating with China Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution. RIPON FORUM October 2020
Outcompeting China: A Roadmap for the U.S. by CLARK PACKARD It has become conventional wisdom around the into commercial networks, and massive industrial Beltway that the United States and China are on a subsidies. Together, the United States argues, these collision course — a new “cold war.” The new cold policies make it unfair and burdensome for American warriors on both sides of the aisle argue that trade and firms to compete in China. These are legitimate investment with China have enriched a brutal regime complaints, and a response from Washington was and made the United States much too vulnerable to necessary. the whims of Beijing. Though a flawed analogy, the Next, tariffs — the president’s preferred tool — chorus has grown louder as the are unlikely to fundamentally United States tries to control transform Beijing’s economic the outbreak of a pandemic that model and have hamstrung originated in China. It is clear the U.S. economy. Numerous that tensions between Beijing and economic studies confirm Washington are rising. But rather that American consumers, than decoupling the two largest not Chinese exporters, are economies in the world, there is paying the tariffs, despite the a smarter approach to confronting president’s repeated statements legitimate problems posed by to the contrary. Even after the China’s economic model. “Phase One” detente signed by As a preliminary matter, it is the United States and China in important to note that China does January, the president’s tariffs engage in repressive human rights cover about $350 billion worth practices and has effectively of imports from China with annexed Hong Kong through its an average rate of almost 20 Clark Packard recently enacted national security percent, more than six times law. The United States should higher than when the trade war confront these policies with began. The tariffs have been Rather than decoupling narrowly tailored sanctions and costly; it is estimated the tariffs the two largest economies cost the typical household visas for Hong Kong residents. Broad-based trade, investment more than $830 in 2019 and in the world, there is and immigration restrictions caused 300,000 job losses. a smarter approach to are unlikely to improve China’s In 2019, U.S. manufacturing confronting legitimate behavior while undermining the slipped into a recession despite long-term competitiveness of the a strong economy overall and problems posed by United States. tariffs were partially to China’s economic model. the A nuanced understanding blame. Likewise, a recent study of the economic fault lines that estimates that the trade war with exist — beyond the president’s China cost American companies obsession with China’s bilateral up to $1.7 trillion in lost market trade surplus with the United capitalization. It belies common States — is imperative if Washington is going to sense to think that weakening ourselves with outdated outcompete Beijing. The crux of the United States’ tariffs will strengthen our position vis-a-vis China. complaints about China’s economic model revolve So if the United States has legitimate complaints around the abuse of intellectual property, the transfer of about Chinese trade practices but tariffs are unlikely to technology from American firms to Chinese firms as a change those practices, what should policymakers do? condition of doing business in China, cyber intrusions 24
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In short, we need to outcompete China. wrangled with whether to restrict Huawei’s purchases The United States made an egregious error when of American products. To the extent that policymakers it abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). should restrict trade, it needs to be done on a While imperfect, TPP was designed to strengthen vital transparent, consistent and limited basis where there supply chains in the Asian Pacific region by offering is a genuine national security threat — not a pretext countries in China’s orbit an alternative market of for protectionism. approximately the same size—one based on the rule If the United States wants to continue its dominance of law with enforceable commitments, not based on of the commanding heights of technology, we need to sheer economic might. TPP also provided a worthwhile dramatically increase immigration. Immigrants are template for confronting more likely than natives to China with allies, rather apply for patents and start than unilateral tariffs. businesses; Google and On top of the geostrategic Qualcomm, two cuttingbenefits, by cutting tariffs edge technology firms, were and ferreting out some nonfounded by immigrants. It tariff trade barriers on both is estimated that about half sides of the Pacific, TPP of all those employed in would have been a boon to Silicon Valley are foreignAmerican consumers and born — a staggering figure. producers. Families buying Meanwhile, between 30 consumer goods produced percent and 50 percent of in TPP countries would see productivity growth in the cost savings at the register. United States between 1990 Meanwhile, American and 2010 was driven by The skyline of downtown Taipei. firms would have seen foreign-born workers. expanded market access Unfortunately, the in a growing region and Rejoining TPP and expanding Trump Administration enhanced competitiveness has severely restricted it to include Taiwan, a hub of from cheaper component immigration. A new study high-tech manufacturing, and parts and capital goods found that legal immigration sourced from TPP countries. India, a massive country with will have declined by In other words, TPP was about 50 percent since the untapped potential, should be a positive-sum agreement president was inaugurated. a top priority for policymakers Meanwhile, universities, that could have helped raise commercial standards serious about the economic long an incubator of research in the region and lessened and development, have seen challenges posed by China. U.S. dependence on China. international enrollments Beijing was the single decline between 63 percent biggest beneficiary of the to 98 percent from 2018-19 Trump administration’s unforced error. Rejoining TPP levels, according to the same study. Over the long run, and expanding it to include Taiwan, a hub of high- this type of sclerotic immigration restrictionism will tech manufacturing, and India, a massive country dampen growth and competitiveness, particularly in with untapped potential, should be a top priority for technology. policymakers serious about the economic challenges Globalization — the movement of people, ideas, posed by China. capital, goods and services — across borders helped In many respects, tariffs on unrelated products propel the United States to unprecedented wealth and are merely a manifestation of the larger competition influence. With a global pandemic and China rising, over technological supremacy in an increasingly policymakers are increasingly tempted to turn inward. interconnected world. Huawei is a perfect example. That would ensure the slow decline of U.S. prosperity Many policymakers in Washington believe the Chinese — and hasten China’s ascendency. Instead, openness to telecom giant is a national security risk to the United trade and immigration are necessary components of any States. For Xi Jingping and the Chinese government, policy to outcompete China in the 21st century. RF Huawei is the cutting-edge Chinese technology firm that could dominate the future of telecommunications Clark Packard is a resident fellow and trade policy networks. Over the last several years, Washington has counsel at the R Street Institute. RIPON FORUM October 2020
The Importance of India and the Growing Chinese Threat by RUP NARAYAN DAS The triangular relationship between the United States, Chi- address at Motera stadium, he referenced the elephant in the na, and India particularly resonates in current geo-politics since room and contrasted India’s democracy to China, which he Covid-19. China’s belligerence has lent urgency to the need for called “a nation that seeks power through coercion, intimidaa coalition of democratic countries to deal with China. It is an tion, and aggression.” It was indeed a great strategic gesture on behalf of the irony of history that the U.S. and India – two of the world’s largest and most vibrant democracies – could not engage with each U.S. to support India when a bloody clash took place between other in a meaningful manner in the post-war period. It was only the armies of the two countries in the Golwan Valley on June when communist China attacked India in 1962 that a new era of 15th in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed and the Chinese relations between India and the U.S. was set in motion. Since army suffered a number of casualties as well. Launching a scathing attack on China, then, there has been no lookU.S. Secretary of State ing back, and the relationship Mike Pompeo said, “The between the two countries Chinese took incredibly has been transformed from aggressive action.” He estranged democracies to enalso lauded India’s begaged democracies. fitting response, saying, The renaming of the “The Indians have done U.S. Pacific Command as their best to respond to the Indo-Pacific Command that.” on June 1, 2018 was a straOn the night of Autegic gesture by the United gust 29th, in the latest States to co-opt India in round of ongoing escalathe Indo-Pacific against the tion on the Line of Acbackdrop of China’s belligtual Control (LAC) along erence. In September 2018, the India-China border the India-U.S. defense rein Ladakh, the Indian India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with lationship received a major U.S. President Donald Trump before a meeting in New Army thwarted the Chiboost at the 2+2 Dialogue in Delhi on February 25, 2020. nese Army’s attempt to New Delhi, where the “fountransgress into the Indian dational” Communications side. The U.S. supported Compatibility and Security The relationship between the two India’s position. ReiteratAgreement (COMCASA) was signed between the two countries has been transformed from ing Secretary Pompeo’s earlier remarks that the countries. COMCASA enestranged democracies to engaged United States hoped for a ables the Indian military to democracies. peaceful resolution to the get a better picture of the Inborder standoff between dian Ocean region, which is the two countries, U.S. seeing an increase in Chinese Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs David activity. Prime Minister Modi, in his characteristic style, hosted Stilwell asked both sides to follow their commitment to rePresident Donald Trump in the capital city of Gujarat on Feb- solve the issue through peaceful means and dialogue. The U.S. also supported India’s courageous move to ban ruary 24th of this year and regaled him in a rousing road show from the airport to the Motera stadium. The India-U.S. relation- 118 mobile apps in light of new information that they enship was elevated to “Global Comprehensive Strategic Partner- gaged in activities which are prejudicial to the sovereignty, ship” and Prime Minister Modi hailed it as one of the defining integrity, defense, and security of India and public order. In partnerships of the 21st century. When President Trump gave his fact, The State Department developed their own initiative 26
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to ensure that Americans’ privacy, companies’ proprietary ter Modi. In a telephonic conversation with Trump on April 4th, information, and their own diplomatic communications are Modi reiterated India’s solidarity with the U.S. in overcoming protected by eliminating possible vulnerabilities through tele- the global crisis together and to resolutely and effectively comcommunications services, app stores, cloud storage, and un- bat Covid-19. The words of intent were quickly demonstrated dersea cable infrastructure. They called on “all freedom-loving in concrete action when Modi rescinded an extant domestic nations and companies” to join law that banned the export of them in their efforts in instituthydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to ing a ‘Clean Network,’ which the United States at the request Throughout Covid-19, we have the Trump Administration of President Trump for the treatseen an unprecedented level of rolled out in response to the ment of American COVID-19 possibility of aggressive intrupatients at a time when there solidarity between President sions by malign actors such as was pressing domestic demand Trump and Prime Minister the Chinese Communist Party. for the drug. Modi. The outbreak of coronaviPresident Trump reciprus and its spread also resonatrocated the goodwill gesture ed within the triangular relawhen the U.S. handed over tionship among the three countries. The growing estrangement 100 ventilators, valued about $1.2 million, to India on June between India and China and corresponding bonding between 16th. Now, there are at least three possible vaccines which President Trump and Prime Minister Modi was evident from American and Indian companies are working together to a new development. Prime Minister Modi spoke to nearly all develop and test. RF world leaders in April, including President Trump, but not to a top Chinese leader, suggesting an estrangement between the Rup Narayan Das retired as joint secretary in the Lok Sabha two leaders. Secretariat of Indian Parliament last year and is a senior felThroughout Covid-19, we have seen an unprecedented low of the Indian Council of Social Science Research at the level of solidarity between President Trump and Prime Minis- Indian Institute of Public Administration in New Delhi.
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1/28/2027 9:54 AM
U.S. Foreign Policy After the Pandemic Four challenges that will need to be addressed by JESSICA TRISKO DARDEN The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed previously unrealized security challenges, ranging from food insecurity to vulnerable supply chains. The pandemic also provides an opportunity to address existing gaps to help ensure that future crises remain under control. With this in mind, U.S. foreign policy needs to better reflect the interconnected nature of the big issues facing the world and respond to challenges posed by future pandemics, technology gaps, migration, climate adaptation and armed conflict.
challenging even here in the United States, 600 million people lack access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa and just 28% have regular internet access. Globally, only one in three students are expected to return to classrooms this fall. Because of technology gaps, millions of children are losing out on key skills, including digital literacy, that they need to reach their fullest human potential. This will have a long-term social and economic impact in developing countries. Foreign assistance, particularly technical assistance and support for private investment, remains essential in extending access to broadband internet, cellular telecommunications, and clean energy to the world’s poorest and most remote regions. Attention to how technology gaps affect service delivery and outcomes should be a key part of U.S. foreign assistance programming.
Global response to pandemics Despite the United States’ effective response to public health crises such as HIV/AIDS and the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, COVID-19 has provided ample evidence that the United States is highly vulnerable to viruses that emerge abroad. The United States needs to tackle public health challenges when and where they emerge to protect the health and Jessica Trisko Darden Migration security of its citizens. India’s lockdown in Foreign assistance programs response to the COVID-19 can help other countries prepare U.S. foreign policy pandemic saw an estimated 40 for future pandemics by improving needs to better reflect the million migrant workers return the detection of outbreaks and to their home villages in the bolstering public health responses interconnected nature of Indian countryside. Many were in countries with weak healthcare the big issues facing the forced to crowd on trains or infrastructure. This helps protect world. walk for days, only to be turned Americans. As the re-emergence away from villages weary of of previously eradicated diseases the virus’s transmission. such as polio and measles shows, no one is safe until Mass migration prompted by disease outbreaks or everyone is safe. natural disasters add greater complexity to a refugee system that was designed to deal with persons displaced Overcoming technology gaps The COVID-19 pandemic prompted lockdowns around by armed conflict. Migration is also a problem that is the world which demonstrated how access to technology likely to worsen if the underlying challenges, including shapes a range of outcomes, from business adaptability to physical and economic insecurity, are not proactively healthcare delivery. The impact of technology gaps is far addressed. reaching, particularly when it comes to education. At its peak, the pandemic forced 1.6 billion children Climate adaptation and conflict prevention While we can hope that climate scientists’ worstout of the classroom. While distance-learning proved 28
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case projections regarding sea-level rise or warming remains a vital instrument of U.S. foreign policy. Global temperatures will not come about, in the coming decades and local crises, whether they stem from pandemics or mass both wealthy and poor nations will face the reality that migration, will continue to contribute to armed conflict people on nearly every continent will no longer be able and slow economic growth. The United States must draw to live or farm where they on non-military tools such as currently reside. foreign assistance to shape America needs to get these outcomes, in coordination While conflict prevention has ahead of this by working with other major donors. with governments to create Focusing on these pressing long been a focus of foreign incentives for relocation that issues — and the connections assistance, the intersection of will help minimize economic between them — will help conflict prevention with other disruptions and conflicts that bring coherence and crosscould impact the United States’ sectoral thinking to America’s global challenges should be economy and security. Climate international outreach while at the forefront of the United adaption is most pressing in engaging the United States in States’ response. parts of the world that are solving challenges that confront already fragile and prone to all of humanity. RF the outbreak of war and the emergence of terrorism. While conflict prevention has Jessica Trisko Darden is an Assistant Professor of long been a focus of foreign assistance, the intersection of International Affairs at American University’s School of conflict prevention with other global challenges should be International Service. She is author of Aiding and Abetting: at the forefront of the United States’ response. U.S. Foreign Assistance and State Violence (Stanford A properly directed foreign assistance program University Press, 2020).
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4/22/2020 9:01:49 AM
News & Events
McMorris Rodgers Touts American Tech Innovation & Competitiveness with China WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) appeared before The Ripon Society on September 11th to discuss her work on the Energy & Commerce Committee, the panel’s priorities to boost American development in emerging technology, and her thoughts on the upcoming election. But first, McMorris Rodgers – pictured above speaking at an event earlier this year – took a moment to address the wildfires raging in her home state and throughout the Western United States. “The fires in Eastern Washington and all across the West are heavy on my heart,” the Washington lawmaker stated. “Just yesterday I was visiting towns just thirty miles South of
Spokane – Malden and Pine City – where a fire came through on Labor Day and just destroyed these towns. Malden is a small town and the City Hall is gone. The Fire Department, the Post Office, and the Grange Hall are all gone as well. Eighty-five homes out of one hundred twenty in this small town are gone. Walking through that town is just devastating, yet there was also this sense of the community coming together. “There is a bright dawn ahead. Folks are already talking about how we’re going to clean this up, how we’re going to rebuild, and how we’re going to meet the immediate needs of the families here – it just shows me the resiliency of the American spirit.” McMorris Rodgers, a 15-year
veteran of Capitol Hill and the top Republican of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, then outlined the latest work being done by her and her Energy & Commerce colleagues. “In May, we introduced a package of bills around emerging technology. They were all Republican-led bills at the time. Yet, on Wednesday, we were able to pass nine of those bills out of the Democrat-controlled committee. And it’s part of a larger global competitive package and highlights the importance of American leadership around emerging tech. “This is artificial intelligence, quantum computing, blockchain, and other emerging technologies that we see China using to oppress minorities
McMorris Rodgers is pictured here addressing a meeting of The Ripon Society in February of this year.
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and dissidents within their borders. races across the country for the House the country,” McMorris Rodgers It is very important that America is of Representatives. According to explained. “Forty percent of our jobs leading on this. And the fact that we McMorris Rodgers, 2020 has shaped are trade dependent and we export a lot introduced this package in May and up to be a banner year for Republican to China and to the entire Pacific rim. I passed nine of the bills on Wednesday candidates running for Congress. think, where my heart is right now, it is out of the committee proves that “It is record-breaking and so important for America to be smart, be when you have the right policy, you exciting to see the women that are strategic, and lead the American way. can drive the agenda – even from the stepping up, getting into the arena, The relationship that we’ve had with minority.” and running for Congress. We’ve had China has been an important one, and This bipartisan legislative 228 file to run – a record number. It is going to continue to be an important package, called the American was nearly double anything that we’ve one, but we need to make sure that COMPETE Act, includes a bill written seen in the past. And we have 90 that we’re continuing to bring China our by McMorris Rogers, which seeks to won their primaries. This means we way, where China respects individual reinforce American development of have more women in general elections rights and intellectual property rights. artificial intelligence. than we’ve ever seen before. “President Trump has been the “One of the bills is my legislation “I just want to highlight this part toughest of any president on China. called the GAINS Act, I know that it has been which is Generating very disruptive, but I am Artificial Intelligence pleased to see him holding “We need to make sure we are Networking Security Act, China accountable. It has but it’s really focused on needed to happen because building a strong foundation here AI and the importance of whether it’s HP or so many at home and holding China American leadership in AI. other companies – big and accountable.” We need to focus on what AI small – have had products can do to help cure cancers, Cathy McMorris Rodgers stolen. Companies that for example. It is because Remarks to The Ripon Society have gone out of business of artificial intelligence and September 11, 2020 because China would steal digging deeper into these or duplicate the systems or algorithms that we can the products.” detect cancers earlier, and that we’re in particular: these are women that McMorris Rodgers continued. going to be able to save lives. Think approached me. For years I’ve been “I think that clearly we have about the clinical trials that are recruiting women and men all over invested a lot in China. A lot of underway right now, the work that has the country to run, but especially it American businesses have invested a been done around the COVID vaccine was noteworthy with the women, how lot in building this relationship and it’s and Operation Warp Speed. The often I felt like we had to reach out to going to continue to be an important public private partnership to bring a them and tap them on the shoulder and relationship. I just think it’s time for new vaccine to market is being driven encourage them to run. And this cycle, America to stand up for American by artificial intelligence as well as they’ve been knocking on my door, products and intellectual property some of the work that they’re doing to asking if they could talk with me about rights and make sure that China is learn more about the coronavirus and running for Congress. These women adhering to that. I also think about how develop treatments even sooner. are impressive. They are successful dependent we have become on China “The issues in front of this in business, technology, health care, for so much, and that’s been exposed committee are energy technology and other fields. They’re running during coronavirus. Think about the and health care. These are the issues and waging good campaigns, and strategic minerals and chemicals that that are going to define our future and it’s really exciting to see this energy we need in so many products that will define whether or not America is around women as well as minorities.” we are now dependent upon China leading in this global economy and At the end of the virtual discussion, for, whether it’s weapon systems or whether or not we’re beating China McMorris Rodgers was asked about critical infrastructure or products. And in these areas. And we need to make where she sees the dynamic between again, I just think that we need to look sure that we continue to give people the United States and China heading in more strategically about how we make confidence and give them the courage the coming years, and how American sure that we’re not making ourselves to dream again, especially after what companies working overseas should vulnerable or weak. We need to we’ve been through with coronavirus.” navigate this relationship. make sure we are building a strong She wrapped up her initial remarks “I come from Washington state foundation here at home and holding by turning to the fall election and the – the most trade dependent state in China accountable.” RF RIPON FORUM October 2020
Name: Ann Wagner Occupation: Mom, Grandma, & Member of Congress representing Missouri’s 2nd District First job and lesson(s) learned from it: One of my first jobs was working in a little carpet store my parents ran called “Carpetime” in Manchester, Missouri. It was there I first learned the values of good customer service and how hard work can help grow a business from the ground up. Book(s) you’ve read that you’re recommending to friends: I just finished Where the Crawdads Sing and I’m telling everyone about it. It’s a fast read and such a great story. You serve as Chair of the Suburban Caucus. What are some of the top legislative priorities of the group? We just released our second set of endorsed legislation where we focused on affordable and accessible healthcare, education, childcare, and nursing homes, to name just a few. It included my telehealth legislative package which would permanently expand the telehealth options that have been so successful in addressing the challenges brought on by COVID-19. Especially in times of crisis, it is so important that patients can see their doctor on their own terms when it is most convenient for them. We are also advocating for legislation to maintain coverage for those with preexisting conditions and give premium assistance to those who have been laid off so people can stay on their health insurance during the pandemic. Our world is facing unprecedented difficulties, and no one should lose their health care through no fault of their own. The package will also include protections for nursing home residents and promote televisitation so vulnerable people can better communicate with their families. The way in which we educate students has also been dramatically altered this year, so we are working to advance legislation to help parents cover increased expenses as students learn from home. Many families are struggling already during the pandemic, and higher education costs should not be an additional burden on working families. We are also focused on helping our schools and daycare centers open safely so families can confidently send their kids back into the classroom and minimize education disruptions. Why are the suburbs so important to Republican electoral prospects this fall? Suburbs have grown as families continue to see greater opportunities outside of cities, whether it is to start a business or have better flexibility in raising their kids. So many middle-class families have decided the suburbs are the best place to put down roots and raise a family, but many are also under the false impression that Republicans aren’t working for them. With suburban regions around the nation continuing to grow, they represent a larger constituency than in years past. It is our responsibility to prove to these families that we are working to help them take advantage of the diverse opportunities America offers and build a better future for their children and future generations. That’s why the Suburban Caucus is so important; it gives us the chance to highlight Republican initiatives designed to grow our economy, create jobs, and address the unique challenges suburban moms and dads face, especially during this pandemic.
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