In commercial cities like Hong Kong and Mumbai, businesspeople who ordinarily lean toward America’s Democrats have learned that Obama is no Bill Clinton. In his presidency, Clinton championed new government programs but also recognized the importance of trade, investment and balanced budgets. Clinton signed a reduction in the capital gains tax. He also pushed through NAFTA, saying, “We are on the verge of a global economic expansion that is sparked by the fact that the United States at this critical moment decided that we would compete, not retreat.”
In contrast, Obama has spoken primarily of trade eliminating U.S. jobs. He has implied that much wealth is ill gotten and his policies presume that capital can be allocated better by government officials than free markets, especially in the field of energy. Taxes on investment are set to increase massively in January, with the levy on dividends rising from 15% to as much as 43%.
All of this is noted abroad. The consequence is that people increasingly do business elsewhere. They invest capital elsewhere. Countries are now more willing to seek trade agreements with Canada than with the United States, for example. Allies have to cut deals with the bad actors in their regions. More countries contemplate nuclear arsenals of their own. Tyrannical governments see no cost to crushing dissent violently.
American voters do not cast their ballots based on the wishes of foreigners. But it is worth considering that those abroad who help the United States the most economically and in national defense think matters will improve drastically with change in the White House.
Christian Whiton was a State Department senior advisor from 2003-2009. He is a principal at DC International Advisory.