Balance Sheet



NAFTAmath. In the first six months of 1994, U.S. exports to Mexico are up 17 percent from '93, and Mexican exports to the United States are up 21 percent. After NAFTA, the whole dollar value of U.S. exports to Mexico is bigger than that of Mexico to the United States, despite Perotian cries about the inability of poor Mexicans to buy things. Jobs aren't flying across the border; goods and cash are.

Derivatives Reprieved. The feds decide for once that a flurry of panicky journalism isn't good enough reason to muck up the works with regulation. Undersecretary of the Treasury Frank Newman tells Congress that new moves to regulate the markets in financial derivatives aren't necessary—at least not this year.

Markets Flow. The Interior Department's Bureau of Reclamation contemplates a partial inflow of market logic to western water policy: allowing California, Arizona, and Nevada to sell water allocated to them by the feds that they don't want to use.

Great Gridlock. It just missed claiming the crime bill, but it did succeed in killing "health-care reform" for now. Federal welfare reform as we know it is crawling to a halt. The president's ability to get his way with Congress, and Congress's ability to get anything big done, seem more limited than ever.


Law for Art's Sake. The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, which prohibits the "intentional distortion, mutilation, or other modification" of art, claims its first victim: A New York office building can't remove from its premises an astronaut with a trashcan head, among other elements of a football-field sized, unfinished installation cluttering its premises. But U.S. District Judge David Edelstein will not force the building owners to let the artists finish the offending work.

Gun Gestapo. And you thought the Brady Bill would just allow the feds to check criminal records on potential gun buyers. Now the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System will also include dishonorable military discharges, records on mental commitments, illegal aliens, and those who have renounced their citizenship. May we see all your papers, please?

On Hold. Telecommunications regulatory reform is disconnected for at least another year. The future of competition in local telephone services and cable TV stays in the uncertain flux of myriad local court decisions. While any bill isn't better than none (and this year's bills were filled with bad provisions), level national deregulation in this national (and international) industry is needed, quick.

Sticker Shock. Car buyers get one more irrelevant sticker to look at. The "total domestic content" (Canada somehow counts as domestic—Japanophobia, anyone?) of cars, and the countries where the foreign parts are from, now must be revealed on car stickers. This is on top of the different domestic-content calculations automakers already have to give to the EPA and the Customs Service. The estimated $13 million compliance costs for this consumer "protection" will be paid by—guess who?