This is why U.S. President Barack Obama’s latest musings about a new levee on visitors to state-side visitors is so ill advised. Sure, he is only talking about $5.50 for each visit to the U.S. but it is empirically bad policy to expect to lower America’s runaway debt on the backs of foreign travelers.
This is especially true at a time when Canada and the U.S. are, apparently, working hard to streamline border crossings and remove barriers to the flow of trade. To now muse about a new tax barrier is simply counter-productive.
The federal Conservatives have gone to great lengths to avoid raising taxes in the upcoming budget – they have even taken some flak for this dogged commitment. For the U.S. to abandon these principles has many Canadians shaking their heads in bewilderment.
“We want to ensure trade and travel between our two countries is easier, not more difficult,” responded Prime Minister Harper. And while it is clear that the U.S. is in a deep budgetary hole they should focus on realistic and long-term ways to grow their economy. “This is not a useful way to do that,” added Harper.
Such barriers to trade will, inevitably, shrink the U.S. economy. While Americans do a lot of traveling within their own borders there is no replacement for lost foreign dollars. With the U.S. a very popular travel destination, the tourism industry is in essence an irreplaceable form of indirect foreign investment, amounting to billions of dollars annually.
Canada and the U.S. have recently been engaged in talks about a broader security arrangement that would combine efforts on some border security. If this is now indicative of the attitude taken by our southern neighbours, we should be wary of their sincerity – if they are just looking to off-load their security costs to us, or to battle down their debt on our dime we should get out now.
It is rare that our government and citizenry are of an identical mind when it comes to policy – but it is unanimous, nobody wants this new levee on border crossings.