Bill Owens

Bill Owens: Trump And The Democrats

Sep 12, 2017

On the evening of September the 6th, at a meeting with Mr. Trump, Ms. Pelosi and Messrs McConnell, Ryan, and Schumer a negotiation ensued to resolve the debt ceiling, Harvey relief and a Continuing Resolution (known as CR - that essentially extends current spending into the future when Congress can’t agree on specific appropriations bills).  There was a back and forth amongst the assembled with the initial offer from the Republicans being a proposal for an eighteen month CR and debt ceiling raise to be included with Harvey relief of $7.85 billion, this was countered by a three month proposal from the Democrats; the Republicans then countered only to be pushed aside by President Trump who agreed with the Democrats.

Bill Owens: The Health And Safety Land Account

Sep 7, 2017

A common sense Constitutional amendment has been put forward for a vote this November.  The State Assembly with strong leadership from Assemblyman D. Billy Jones and the State Senate with strong support from Senator Betty Little have voted in two consecutive years to move this amendment forward as well as having passed enabling legislation. The amendment creates a 250 acre land bank in the Adirondacks and the Catskills.  These two constitutionally protected areas of the state provide enormous green space which aid in the protection of our environment and are major attractions for tourism and recreation bringing tens of thousands of visitors from outside of New York.  This is the second proposal that I recall which provided for a common sense response to the needs of Adirondack communities.  Several years ago, a land swap occurred in Essex County for the NYCO mining facility, which was a hotly contested amendment to the state Constitution, but nonetheless, it passed and NYCO was allowed to expand in exchange for returning land of equal size to the Adirondack Park. 

A recent story in the Wall Street Journal indicated that Alibaba’s revenue will grow fifty percent (50%) due to an increase in sales to China’s growing middle class.  The dynamics of that reality may well cause a shift in Chinese production towards its own middle class, and thus, a shift in the utilization of resources for that production.  The level of Chinese exports to the United States in 2015 was $483,188,700,000 and 2016 was $462,618,100,000, resulting in a U.S. trade deficit during each of those years of $367,256,700,000  and $347,016,000,000  respectively.

Bill Owens: NAFTA Talks

Sep 1, 2017

The United States, Canada and Mexico had their first day of negotiations on Wednesday August 13th, 2017. Prior to the U.S. Trade Representatives, Robert Lighthizer, remarks it was difficult to determine the direction those negotiations might take and their impact on our region. Most of what takes place in Washington has little direct impact on our region. NAFTA is a major exception to that axiom. 

Bill Owens: What Is Next For Healthcare?

Aug 25, 2017

The Republican Senate’s third failed attempt at repeal and/or replace was a surprise to many, including this writer.  I believed they would get something passed, even for the limited purpose of getting a bill back to the House, and into conference committee.  Senator Graham subsequently announced he had a plan which he would move forward with, but that too seems to have died as Senator McConnell said the Senate is moving on.  President Trump has continued to attack on Twitter those Republican Senators who voted against the last Senate bill, Mr. McConnell and Republicans in general for the failure to pass healthcare reform.       A group of house members from the “Common Sense Caucus” have issued a set of principles to create a framework for healthcare reform.  As yet, beyond the press release, not much has happened.  Will Republicans revisit healthcare, or, in fact, let the repeal and replace mantra die.

Bill Owens: Georgia Six - A Surprise?

Jul 4, 2017

There have been four special congressional elections since Mr. Trump was elected president, and Republicans have prevailed in each instance.  The Georgia Sixth Congressional District election was heralded as an opportunity to take back a district that had been held by Republicans for more than forty years; nonetheless, it went Republican again by four percentage points, while Mr. Trump won by roughly one percent.

Bill Owens: What's Going On With Trade?

Jun 30, 2017

On the Canadian front, on May 18, the Trump administration gave formal notice that it was proceeding toward a renegotiation of NAFTA.  There have been some general hints at the direction the administration will take, including the issues that might be negotiated. Some believe that this will be simply a tweak; others believe it will be a potentially massive rewrite of NAFTA.  Many groups are urging the Trump administration to focus on tweaks rather than dramatic changes. 

Bill Owens: Civil Discourse

Jun 22, 2017

A recent Wall Street Journal article by Gerald F. Sieb spoke to the issue of the loss of civil discourse, and recites as examples the body slamming by the newly elected Republican congressman from Montana, a Democratic state party chair hurling obscenities at the president and party dissidents, a speaker chased off college campuses, and town hall meetings where law makers are shouted down by hecklers. (Let me first note from personal experience that this is not new; this behavior reared its head in 2009 and 2010, executed then by Tea Partiers as opposed to what is now described as the radical left.)  I would add to that list these repugnant displays: Joe Wilson calling President Obama a liar in the House of Representatives in 2009, Kathy Griffin holding a severed head bearing a likeness to President Trump, and the birther nonsense relentlessly promulgated by Donald Trump during Obama’s presidency.  Trump’s most recent attack upon the London mayor is also very troubling.  Mr. Sieb points out how this denigration of civility has spread beyond politics to professional athletic contests, where athletes take what should be routine plays and raise them to the level of the acts of Greek gods, largely by mocking their opponents.

The failure of numerous administrations to connect the dots in terms of manufacturing job loss truly confounds me. First, let’s gather the facts (not fake facts, but facts as defined by Webster) about manufacturing job loss, when viewed through the prism of China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). All of this came to mind as I continued to ponder President Trump’s back and forth on whether or not China was a currency manipulator, or whether to tear up or renegotiate NAFTA. Understanding, to at least some degree, President Trump’s desire to secure China’s cooperation relative to North Korea, abandoning a trade issue to entice China seems at best short sighted.

Bill Owens: Looney Tunes

Apr 21, 2017

The recent explanations given for the failure of the Republican health care bill left me incredulous and searching for some comparative experience from my past.  I found it in Looney Tunes.

Bill Owens: Freedom From Healthcare

Apr 9, 2017

The House Freedom caucus demanded reduced premiums and reduced coverage. The result of these demands if accepted by the Republican caucus would be to deliver to Americans freedom from healthcare.

Bill Owens: Mr. Trump Drive Your Truck

Apr 5, 2017

Almost everyone saw a picture of Mr. Trump in a big rig outside the White House grabbing the wheel in a tight grip, scowling and desperately trying to look like The Tough Guy. This of course was just before the Republican repeal of Obamacare was pulled with a whimper.

Bill Owens: Trump's Canadian Teeter-Totter

Mar 31, 2017

We are all familiar with the children’s playground equipment known as a teeter-totter. As I pondered Mr. Trump’s Canadian policy, that toy came to mind. During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump touted the fact that he would tear up NAFTA or renegotiate it. Following the election, he doubled down with little or no substance nor indication as to what his actual concerns or plans were. The selection of Mr. Ross as secretary of commerce and Mr. Navarro as a trade advisor brought a decidedly hostile view of trade agreements to the administration.

Bill Owens: Wire Taps By Whom And Of Whom?

Mar 9, 2017

President Trump’s latest offering of fake news is that President Obama wiretapped his campaign phones.

Bill Owens: A Positive Step With Canada

Feb 18, 2017

The atmosphere at the White House appeared cordial with the Prime Minister wearing a charming smile which appeared to coax the President out of his usual scowl.

Bill Owens: Health Care Reform Or Chaos?

Jan 31, 2017

Let me begin by saying that I cannot comprehend the impact that the loss of health insurance will have for nearly 20 million Americans.  It will be a financial, health and psychological tsunami for our families, friends and neighbors.

Former Democratic U.S. Congressman Bill Owens represented New York’s North Country from 2009 to 2015.

Bill Owens: Unite Behind Trump?

Jan 19, 2017

Vice president-elect, Mike Pence, has called on Americans to unite behind President-elect Trump.  He and the Trump campaign have claimed that the election was a “landslide,” “blowout” or that it was an “historic victory”.  The facts belie those claims.

Former New York Congressman Bill Owens was a member of the Appropriations Committee and subcommittees on Defense and Homeland Security during his six years in the House. He now works as an attorney and consultant on U.S.-Canada relations.  The Democrat tells WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley that Canadians are closely watching the transition of government in Washington.

Bill Owens: Made In India - And Where Else?

Dec 20, 2016

Surprise—India has a “Made in India” program! This program was highlighted during the process of Boeing entering into contracts to build fighter aircraft for India’s military. As you may have surmised, the “Made in India” requirement is very similar to “Made in America” provisions that exist at the federal, state and local levels in the US.

Bill Owens: Pass Preclearance Legislation

Dec 8, 2016

With all the rhetoric on borders and trade during this campaign season, there is something that Congress can and should do in the lame-duck session to bolster border security and economic growth.  Specifically, Congress should pass the bipartisan Promoting Travel, Commerce and Security Act, which would fully implement the 2015 US-Canada Preclearance Agreement.

Bill Owens: NAFTA - What Happens Now?

Dec 6, 2016

Much has been written in the Canadian press about the US/Canada relationship, particularly since the recent US presidential election, while the US press has largely ignored this relationship and instead has focused on the US/Mexico relationship.

Bill Owens: A New Game Plan For Jobs

Nov 8, 2016

On a recent Saturday morning I was catching up on some reading and happened across an article by Eric Levits in the Daily Intelligencia chronicling a recent speech given by Janet Yellen.  And that same day in the New York Times there appeared an article about “cleaner” Wal-Mart stores (that’s not the real story).

Bill Owens: Another Debate, Another Win For HRC

Oct 11, 2016

As we all watched and waited, we tried to guess would he apologize, would he be believable, will he implode? The apology was weak and unconvincing and the excuse of it being lock room banter was in exceptionally poor judgement.

Bill Owens: A Win For Hillary

Sep 27, 2016

Normally we anticipate a presidential race to turn on the candidates likability and trust worthiness. We know both candidates have high negatives on both counts.

The presidential candidates have sent a spark into the free-trade wood pile.  Think softwood lumber—as “in the weeds” as it gets.

Bill Owens: Did We Forget Some Thing(s)?

Sep 6, 2016

The presidential campaign has taken some surprising twists and turns, no doubt, and this may yet turn out to be the most interesting of elections.

Bill Owens: From Darkness Into Light

Aug 4, 2016

 

As I watched the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, it struck me that there was an extraordinary contrast between the speakers, the message, the tone and the atmosphere that emanated from each one. In the course of being interviewed by a local radio reporter I was asked what my reaction was to the two conventions, or how I might describe them, I responded by saying simply “darkness into light”. 

Bill Owens: Brexit: A View From Ireland

Jul 19, 2016

I had the good fortune to be in the Republic of Ireland in the days leading up to the Brexit vote and a few days thereinafter.  European news reports, conversations with people I spoke with while traveling around Ireland gave me a pro-EU perspective on Brexit.

Bill Owens: Where Will The Jobs Come From?

Jul 7, 2016

            Each of the presidential candidates has talked about bringing jobs back to America and creating jobs in America as an enticement to the battered middle class suffering from job loss and income stagnation.

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