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Give Syrians asylum in Detroit

David D. Laitin and Marc Jahr in the New York Times: Detroit, a once great city, has become an urban vacuum. Its population has fallen to around 700,000 from nearly 1.9 million in 1950. The city is estimated to have more than 70,000 abandoned buildings and 90,000 vacant lots. Meanwhile, desperate Syrians, victims of an unfathomable civil war, are fleeing to neighboring countries, with some 1.8 million in Turkey and 600,000 in Jordan.

Suppose these two social and humanitarian disasters were conjoined to produce something positive.

Resettling Syrians in Detroit would require commitment and cooperation across different branches and levels of our government, but it is eminently feasible. President Barack Obama and Congress would have to agree to lift this year’s refugee ceiling by 50,000.

Some skeptics will point to the difficulties of assimilation, noting past concerns in the Detroit area about the integration of Iraqi refugees. But there is no evidence to suggest that the Detroit area is a powder keg of anti-immigrant sentiment. Quite the contrary: From its original Native Americans to the Great Migration of Southern blacks to the infusion of Hispanic and Arab immigrants, Detroit has been a melting pot of religions, ethnicities and cultures.

Have Democrats abandoned free trade?

Steve Chapman in Reason: For a long time, there was a bipartisan consensus for free trade. President George H.W. Bush, a Republican, negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement, and Democrat Bill Clinton got it passed. It prevailed in the Senate in 1993 with the support of 27 Democrats and 34 Republicans. The consensus wasn't unanimous by any means, but it was broad enough to steadily advance the cause.

Tuesday's Senate vote against considering a bill to give President Barack Obama "fast-track authority" for trade deals suggests those days are gone. Only one Democrat supported it, with 42 opposed — led by Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Economic anxiety, hostility to foreigners, resentment of large corporations and distrust of Obama — in both parties — have dissolved the old coalition. Even Hillary Clinton is on the fence.

Newspapers haven't lost revenue because of foreign competition, but because so much advertising has migrated to the Internet. Bookstores have vanished thanks to a Seattle company named Amazon.

U.S. manufacturing output is nearly 50 percent higher today than in 1994, when NAFTA took effect. So why has employment shrunk? Because companies and workers have become more productive, allowing them to turn out more goods with less labor.

If you think the problem is that foreigners sell us too much and buy too little from us, the Pacific trade deal ought to be just your thing. It would have minimal effect on our imports, but would give a significant boost to our exports.

GOP field a gift to Hillary

Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post: At this point in the campaign, do you see the Republican presidential hopeful who’s going to beat Hillary Clinton? I didn’t think so.

Jeb Bush has been the biggest disappointment. It’s one thing to be rusty after spending a few years away from politics. But Bush shows no sign of having given more than a passing thought to the central challenge he faces in reaching the White House: the fact that his brother got there first and made a mess of things.

This week, Jeb Bush struggled to deal with his brother’s biggest Middle East blunder: the invasion of Iraq. He sounded as if it had never occurred to him that someone might raise the subject.

Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly asked Bush whether he would have ordered the 2003 invasion, knowing what he knows now. Bush answered a different question — whether he would have launched the war based on the intelligence available at the time. “I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody,” he said. “And so would have almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.”

But hardly anyone is getting anything that looks like traction. There are far too many contestants to mention them all, but let’s start with Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Chris Christie, who remain stuck in the single digits in most polls. The same is true of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson got a bump from his formal announcement, but since he has never held elective office and believes Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery, I’m betting his prospects are limited.

This leaves a top tier of Bush, who can’t get out of his own way; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who seems to be fading; and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, the flavor of the month, who hopes to win by propounding a robust, interventionist, Bush-like foreign policy, but without the whole Iraq part.

GOP to Hillary Clinton: Have a nice summer.

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