HKS in the News January 17, 2012

January 17, 2012

1. Middle East Trip Suggests Change in Policy by China (Nye)
New York Times

2. A Corporate Tax Code For A Different Century (Kamarck) Reuters

3. Women’s reservation raises aspiration levels among girls (Pande)

4. Obama's backers put out calls for support (Ganz) Washington Post

5. Will Obama move help small businesses? (Wilkinson)

6. A lesson from Kennedy to the Jews: Fight fear, not the Palestinians (Braunold)

Middle East Trip Suggests Change in Policy by China
New York Times
January 13
Quoted: Joseph Nye
Topic: Chinese-Iranian relations

Premier Wen Jiabao heads on Saturday to the oil-producing nations of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, a six-day tour of Iran’s Persian Gulf neighbors that is the first Saudi trip by a Chinese premier in two decades, and the first ever to the other two states....

Chinese leaders who pored over the Soviet Union’s demise for clues to preserving their own hold on power are unlikely to ignore the lessons of the Arab Spring. The Chinese government may also be more cautious about the side it chooses, considering the embarrassment caused when the biggest state-owned arms company was found to have offered to sell weapons to Colonel Qaddafi to put down the uprising.

“Their political influence has gone down a lot in the last year. Libya, Yemen, Syria — those are all states which had either good or very good relations with China,” said François Godement, a senior fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations in Paris. “In that mood, it’s quite possible that the Chinese would decide to hedge.”

Joseph S. Nye Jr., a Harvard professor who held security and intelligence posts in the Carter and Clinton administrations, said he agreed. “The more this Iranian crutch looks weak, or weakening, the less they’re going to stick with it.”

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A Corporate Tax Code For A Different Century
January 13
Quoted: Elaine Kamarck
Topic: Corporate income tax reform efforts

Big business is lobbying for a major cut in the corporate income tax rate, and both President Barack Obama and key congressional leaders are on their side. But the evidence that a rate cut will boost the economy is weak. What's needed is comprehensive reform that includes a simpler, fairer and more transparent corporate tax code. But more on that later....

The RATE Coalition has two chairs, one from each party, each with strong Washington ties. Its spokeswoman offered Democrat Elaine Kamarck, a public policy lecturer at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, to answer questions. Kamarck said that the enduring economic doldrums and election year politics this year "almost inevitably lead to a big tax reform debate in 2013."

"We see an interesting political consensus," she said. Corporations want lower rates, the government needs more revenue and since the 1986 Tax Reform Act the corporate tax laws have become overgrown with favors, especially for multinational companies. Getting lower rates, she said, has to include removing many favors to level the playing field so profits are taxed evenly, not more for some industries and less for others as today.

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Women’s reservation raises aspiration levels among girls
January 13
Research by: Rohini Pande
Topic: Gender gap study in India

New Delhi: While political parties in India may still be divided on reserving one-third of parliamentary seats for women, a unique, quantitative analysis of the social impact of quotas suggests that such policy action could significantly increase aspirations among girl children as well as their parents for coveting leadership positions, and accessing education and better careers.

The research that was based on a study in West Bengal’s Birbhum district interviewed 8,453 male and female teenagers and their parents in 495 villages between 2006 and 2007. West Bengal implemented a 33% women’s reservation policy in 1998, by which leadership positions were randomly assigned to them....

“The decline in the gender gap is entirely driven by an increase in girls’ aspirations, not by a decrease in boys,” said Lori Beaman, an economics professor at Northwestern University and one of the study’s authors. She added that adolescent Indian girls were more likely to be attending school and spending less time on household chores in the villages that reserved political positions for women.

Other authors include Esther Duflo of the department of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Rohini Pande of the Harvard Kennedy School at Harvard University; and Petia Topalova of the International Monetary Fund.

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Obama's backers put out calls for support
Washington Post
January 14
Quoted: Marshall Ganz
Topic: President Obama's re-election campaign

While the campaign is putting together one of the most expensive and technically sophisticated operations in the history of American politics, it is also relying again on old- fashioned, grass-roots organizing to make the whole thing fly....

[Some people] wonder whether Obama — faced with a flailing economy and job approval ratings hovering around 47 percent — will be able to generate the kind of enthusiasm that so energized his last campaign.

Marshall Ganz, a Harvard University professor whose thinking was behind the grass-roots efforts in 2008, said the campaign runs the risk of confusing the technical means of fancy databases and lists with the more important end of finding a compelling vision in bleak times.

“One of the biggest mistakes they can make is to use the tactics they used before without understanding the context that allowed those tactics to work,” said Ganz, who is not currently involved with the campaign. “The question is whether they can rekindle that sense of moral urgency.”

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Will Obama move help small businesses?
January 16
Commentary by: Amy Wilkinson, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government
Topic: Small business development in the U.S.

Small business is not to be trifled with. President Barack Obama's announcement last week of a proposal to temporarily elevate the Small Business Administration to Cabinet rank is a move in the right direction....

So, on its face, the president's move appears to reflect the importance of entrepreneurial companies to the U.S. economy.

But his announcement came with a mixed signal.

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A lesson from Kennedy to the Jews: Fight fear, not the Palestinians
January 16
Commentary by: Joel Braunold (non-degree Fellow)
Topic: Israeli-Palestinian relations

Intra-Jewish dialogue often breaks down when people wish to discuss the security situation within Israel. Whether internally within a Diaspora community or between those who are living in Israel and those who are not, the topic fractures the Jewish family.

It is very easy to see why; the stakes are as high as they can possibly be. To those living in Israel, all security decisions carry serious costs that they have to live with - it is their children who serve, their homes that are in range of the rockets, their economic future.

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In the HKS TV Studio

Olli Heinonen, Belfer Center
CBS News' “Sunday Morning,” 1/15
Topic: Iran's nuclear weapons program

Broadcast Notes

Peter Bell, Hauser Center

NPR “Morning Edition,” 1/17
Topic: Measuring the impact of relief dollars in Haiti

This selection of media appearances is compiled by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

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