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Former President George W. Bush: ‘Of course we can compete with China.’
UNIVERSITY PARK — Former President George W. Bush dismissed the notion that North America is losing out to China economically. “It is so easy to blame problems on somebody else and China is an easy target,” Bush said. “You hear this seeping into the dialogue this notion about, we can’t possibly compete with China. Of course we can compete with China. And we can better compete with China when we work together.”
Bush did not name names — such as GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has said the U.S. is being outsmarted by China — by name, but noted that a protectionist mentality “tends to pervade our society,” especially when working with Canada and Mexico.
“The attitude basically is, shouldn’t we worry about ourselves more than anybody else?” he said.
At the Wednesday morning launch of the North America Competitiveness Scorecard, the former president said the problem with that belief is that it “doesn't recognize the nature” of today’s globalized world. The event was co-hosted by The Dallas Morning News.
The scorecard, part of the Bush Institute’s Economic Growth program, measures the competitiveness of North American countries against other countries and trade blocs, such as the European Union.
Bush said the U.S. must work hand in hand with Canada and Mexico to thrive in the global market.
Though the scorecard measures the competitiveness —it gives the North America a B+ compared to other trading groups– it also highlights where improvements could be made.
Bush said while an initial challenge will be convincing the American, Canadian and Mexican people to work together, there are three areas that need improvement: energy markets, human capital deficiencies and border infrastructure issues.
He said one of the problems with addressing human capital, for example, is that the conversation tends to shift to immigration.
“It is certainly an issue, one I tried to address without success by the way as president,” Bush said. “But we should not allow the sometime hostile words of immigration to affect what we are doing here at the Bush Center.”
The former president reiterated his long-held belief that free-market economics are “the best way to lift people out of poverty and give people a better shot at a better life.”
His center’s economic policy director, Matt Rooney said he hopes the initiative will help disprove an increasingly negative rhetoric that the United States is losing out to other countries such as China.
“If you look at the scorecard, the only thing they have going for them is the scale of their society. It’s a lot of people,” Rooney said. He said China is not investing in the future and technologies the way the U.S. does.
A policy working group made up of business and political leaders will study those areas of improvement and are expected to roll out recommendations in early 2016.
Jim Moroney, the publisher and CEO of The News, said at the event that the latest initiative is a “challenging undertaking.”
“We at The News think that it is a very bold idea and one that is absolutely worth exploring,” he said. “And if that belief of the institute stands the test of scrutiny through vigorous debate in open, public, and hopefully civil discourse, then it is a belief that should be embraced and should be built upon.”
For more about the scorecard visit www.bushcenter.org/scorecard
Ashley McConkey manages communications for the George W. Bush Presidential Center and is responsible for message development on behalf of the Economic Growth, Human Freedom and Military Service initiatives.
Before joining the Bush Center, McConkey worked in the communications and public policy arena in Austin, Texas for both non-profit and corporate entities. She also served as a Budget and Policy Adviser to Texas House Speaker Joe Straus.
McConkey grew up in Greenville, Texas and moved to Austin to study Political Science at St. Edward’s University. She and her husband reside in Dallas.Full Bio
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