Online Q&A: US mid-terms

Listen to this article

00:00
00:00

After the Democrats’ triumph in the mid-term elections, what are the implications for US domestic and foreign policy? And what are George W. Bush’s prospects now? Lawrence Summers, ex-US Treasury secretary and professor at Harvard University, will answer questions in a live online debate on Monday from 3pm GMT (10am US eastern time).

Post a question now to ask@ft.com or use the online submissions form below.


Given that prominent democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are known for their forthright views on China, how will policymakers in Beijing be reacting to the mid-term results?
Nathaniel Schneider

Lawrence Summers: I’m not sure how China will react. It probably depends on what the US does, which in turn depends on the effectiveness of the Treasury secretary Paulson’s diplomacy.


Why did you stress the necessity of a bipartisan approach to US foreign policy? Don’t you think between September 2001 and November 2006 the current administration had overwhelming American support for its foreign policies? Could it have benefited from more checks and balances than from the bipartisan approach it received?
Mary Seaton, London, UK

Lawrence Summers: I think serious advice and dialogue were confined to a quite narrow circle so that policy did not have the kind of serious bipartisan support that characterised more successful periods in American foreign policy.


Is it possible that after the Republican defeat the Tortilla Wall might not be built, and is there the possibility of a more beneficial US migration reform from a Mexican perspective?
Eugenia Butler, Mexico City

Lawrence Summers: I’d guess that wall will not be built. It has not been appropriated at this point. I fear that US immigration policy will be driven heavily by domestic politics and that international considerations will get less weight. I think there is good chance of a no wall, more enforcement, some path towards citizenship package.


Does the Democratic leadership appreciate the threat to US democracy and western security of the US under-investment in education - especially sciences? And, if they do, how do you think they will effectively overcome the current inertia to change the situation quickly enough to effect the current trajectory of economic and geopolitical order for five to 15 years from now?
Brian McPhail, Menlo Park, California

Lawrence Summers: The Democrat leadership definitely does appreciate risks on education weakness - the issue will be to what extent budget and political constraints around existing educational institutions - like the teachers unions - inhibit reform. I am not hugely optimistic.


What do you think will transpire in the area of healthcare policy? Will progress be made to increase coverage of non-insured Americans?
Chris Coulter, Toronto, Canada

Lawrence Summers: I don't expect major healthcare reforms in next two years though health care will be a major issue in the campaign.


When Bush became president I knew that the foreign policy would be conservative, what I did not expect was the array of mistakes made up to now. Do you see a more intelligent policy approach to foreign policy in the future?
Lorenzo Vidal, Madrid, Spain

Lawrence Summers: We can all hope for a better executed foreign policy. I am not sure what prospects are - there does seem to be some determination to change course and some key personnel change. But it is late in the day.


How can Congress stimulate greater investment in the creation of intellectual property and provide for stronger enforcement of IP rights at home and abroad?
Peter Harter, Washington, DC, US

Lawrence Summers: The IP agenda is still a bit on the defensive given the Uruguay round overreach on pharmaceuticals in the developing world. I think the best thing Congress can do is to increase funding for basic research, particularly in the life sciences.


What will the Democrats do about the broken immigration system? The Republicans talked a great deal, but did very little to fix it. Here in California, we are swamped by an out-of-control immigration problem that both parties seem to prefer to ignore. Will the Democrats introduce genuine reform, or will they open the floodgates and exacerbate an already worsening crisis?
William Myers, Irvine, California

Lawrence Summers: The best prospect for major bipartisan legislation is probably in the immigration area where there is a broad consensus across the centre of both parties in favour of combining stricter enforcement with some route to citizenship for those who are here.


How much truth is there in assertion, so often heard in the last few days, that the Democratic advances are a death blow to free trade and to the Doha round?
Malan Rietveld, London, UK

Lawrence Summers: I fear that Doha was in serious trouble before the election. I also think the right reading of the election is that there was bipartisan economic nationalism. Reconstructing support for internationalist economic policy is a crucial task in the years ahead.


Polling data shows that economic populism played a critical role in the recent mid-term elections. What type of legislation might we reasonably expect to be passed by this new Congress to address the problem of the vanishing middle class in the United States?
Matthew, Dubuque, San Franciso, US

Lawrence Summers: I would not expect large scale change directed at the anxious middle class. There will probably be little momentum on trade but not major new social insurance steps save some reform in medicare.


Is there any chance the Democrats will work toward reducing the deficit?
Steven Wessel, Virginia

Lawrence Summers: I expect the Democrats to work on deficit reduction by passing pay-go type restrictions that require that new spending be matched by some kind of offsets. I also expect them to clamp down on pork spending to a greater extent than we have seen recently in part because the excesses have been so great and in part because they will not derive full political benefit from the spending given that there is a Republican president.

The most thought-provoking online contributions may be published in the Financial Times newspaper, so please supply your full name and location.

Background

Lawrence Summers: After repudiation, the way forward

In depth - US mid-terms

Winners and losers in the mid-terms

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't copy articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.