From D.C. to Dhaka, scores of people gathered around live broadcasts of President Bush to play CGD State of the Union bingo and watch the president’s first address to a new Democratic majority in Congress. The rules are simple: listen for key policy terms in Bush’s address and be the first to mark your bingo card. The point: U.S. foreign policy, global warming and migration policies matter for global development and have an impact on poverty and inequality throughout the world. Some highlights from State of the Union bingo 2007:
The Diner in Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C: Policy wonks and development aficionados packed The Diner in Adams Morgan, which donated prizes for our bingo participants from the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Social Security Administration, Brookings, the ONE Campaign, InterAction, CARE, Bread for the World, World Resources Institute, Winrock, and World Vision. Cheers to Tryst, the watering hole next door, for accommodating our spillover crowd!
Stephan Thurman, an economist with the State Department’s bureau of economic and business affairs, returned this year to take the first prize for the second year running, on his boss’s bingo card no less, and sent this “Daily Activity Report” around the department upon his victorious return:
EB/EPPD Takes First Prize at State of the Union Bingo Contest (Economic Bureau/Economic Policy and Public Diplomacy for those who haven’t memorized State’s alphabet soup)
At the annual Center for Global Development (CGD) State of the Union Bingo contest, the bingo card for EPPD’s office director won first prize, with the combination of policy words: Global, Environment, Children, Women, and Free CGD Bingo Space. Dave is now the proud owner of a CGD logo T-shirt embossed with “Ending poverty one regression at a time.” State’s representative at this event was frustrated at the lack of the speech’s early mentions of vaccines, foreign aid, gender, trade, debt relief, and prosperity, among other policy wonkisms. This is the intent of CGD’s otherwise raucous fun evening at a small restaurant in DC’s Adams Morgan area - to call attention to what is, and what is not, emphasized by the administration to advance the cause of global development.
“Off the Record Bar” at the Hay Adams Hotel, Washington, D.C.: The manager of the Hay Adams Hotel reportedly insisted printed copies of CGD’s State of the Union Bingo cards be left with him so that patrons at the “Off the Record Bar” could play, too. (For our outside-the-beltway readers and those who don’t recognize it from re-runs of the West Wing, Off the Record Bar is a regular hangout for White House staff of all administrations.) We’d like to tell you who won over there and what the crowd reaction was but…read the name of the bar.
Reports are trickling in of CGD State of the Union bingo being played in Columbus, Ohio (over margaritas); Lexington, Kentucky (over bourbon?); Napa, California (definitely over wine); and Dhaka, Bangladesh (a breakfast bingo, with mimosas perhaps?).
In all the venues, the following words helped bingo players score and seemed to garner the most interest:
Global climate change Rumors circulated prior to the speech that President Bush would break new ground on global warming, but when he uttered the words “global climate change”, he focused on energy security and failed to make the link between human-generated greenhouse gas emissions and the threats that global warming pose to economic growth, agriculture production, mortality and poverty in developing and rich countries alike (CGD has recently launched a new initiative to help address some of these problems, see Confronting Climate Change .)
CGD bingo players contrasted President Bush’s tepid proposals with the call to action the previous day in which CEOs of 10 major corporations urged the president to support mandatory reductions in climate-changing pollution and establish reduction targets.
Migration policy: The president called for Congress to help him pass a “comprehensive immigration reform” policy that would include a temporary worker program. Recent CGD research published by Lant Pritchett in Let Their People Come: Breaking the Gridlock on Global Labor Mobility estimated that if rich countries were to permit a mere 3 percent increase in the size of their labor force by easing restrictions on temporary guest workers, the benefits to citizens of poor countries would be $305 billion a year--almost twice the combined annual benefits of full trade liberalization ($86 billion); foreign aid ($70 billion) and debt relief (about $3 billion in annual debt service savings). Bush argued that a guest worker program would take the pressure off the borders; CGD research suggests that it would also make hundreds of thousands of very poor people much better off while also adding to the U.S. economy.
Lant Pritchett argues in his book that a politically palatable migration, or labor mobility, policy must have six features. While not articulated in the State of the Union itself, the president’s full proposal includes all of Lant's feature except number 5:
- Have bilateral agreements between host and sending countries,
- Allow for temporary movement of persons in a regime separate from immigration,
- Have numerical quotas for specific occupational categories,
- Enhance the development impact of the labor movement through agreements with the sending-country government and voluntary arrangements,
- Enlist sending-country enforcement by imposing automatic penalties on the sending country (and host-country employer) for laborers who overstay, and
- Protect the fundamental human rights of laborers.
HIV/AIDS and the Millennium Challenge Account: The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Millennium Challenge Account went unmentioned last year but found space in this year's speech, winning applause from the CGD bingo crowd in The Diner. Both programs are landmark presidential foreign aid initiatives, but also ones that received bipartisan support when they were created.
My colleague, Sheila Herrling blogged her response to President Bush's mention of the MCA in his address. She notes that the MCA will need continued support from the administration and new champions among Democrats and Republicans if the MCA is to live up to it “innovative and grounding principles” of helping poor countries with good policies help themselves.
Bush touted PEPFAR for increasing the number of people receiving life-saving drugs. CGD's HIV/AIDS Monitor and others have emphasized the need to focus on preventing HIV/AIDS infection, as well as providing treatment to those already infected.
The MCA and PEPFAR have attracted much of the new funds for traditional foreign assistance but have not been fully integrated into the new transformational diplomacy framework, and should still be seen as two important tools among a comprehensive approach to foreign assistance.
Civilian Reserve Corps: The mention of a civilian reserve corps, not actaully on our bingo cards, was nevertheless noted by one fragile states expert as a “big deal” when it comes to improving stabilization and reconstruction capacity in weak and fragile states, another area that many hope will receive real bipartisan attention to as a key area in the transformational diplomacy agenda. (See CGD's work on security and development.)
Our fourth annual CGD State of the Union bingo was heavily oversubscribed this year. Next year we plan to arrange it so many more people can attend. Stay tuned!