Thursday, April 09, 2009

Freep Trade

As the new U.S.Trade Representative, Ron Kirk is finally confirmed after one of several obstructed nominees from President Obama. One of the lessons the wingers holding up nominees have taught is that they are unalterably opposed to change from the disastrous course that the previous maladministration had charted. The determined pursuit of industry goals that ran roughshod over workers' rights here and abroad has done us a huge amount of damage, and wingers are determined that it will stay in place so their ideology will be shown as firm as it is infirm for the country.

The man President Obama has put in place has long and deep relationships with all the elements in this maelstrom, and shows every sign of being able to contain the damages done by war criminals in the executive branch. Hopefully, he can make some headway toward undoing the damage as well.

Actually, experience in Dallas politics, as mayor, should serve Representative Kirk well against the influences he's going to confront.

It's been three weeks since the Senate confirmed Kirk, a lawyer, free-trade advocate and friend of President Barack Obama. And already it's clear: Kirk's biggest challenges may come not from protectionism abroad but from "headwinds" at home.

With that in mind, Kirk hasn't just carved out time getting to know such counterparts as the World Trade Organization director and the European Union trade commissioner (whose title, "baroness," he playfully admired at a photo-op).

He has also been schmoozing key U.S. lawmakers, among them Charlie Rangel, the raspy House chairman who oversees tariffs. They go way back; Rangel even stumped for Kirk in the 2002 Senate race the former mayor lost.

The charm and connections help explain why Obama chose someone who admits his trade expertise is limited. With economic anxiety sapping public support for trade, Obama needed someone with the salesmanship and charisma to tame City Hall and, more recently, command $1 million a year as a lawyer and lobbyist.

Kirk's charge isn't merely to cut deals and enforce complex rules. It's to restore the perception that trade deals can create prosperity, not just send jobs overseas.
His basic approach: he's not interested in "deal fever." Enforcing the rules already in place is a far higher priority than hammering out new pacts. On Tuesday, for instance, he announced $54.8 million worth of tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber.

But he'd rather build relationships than get litigious, he said.

It might take four or five years to resolve a formal complaint through the World Trade Organization, he said, and "if you are a cattle producer in Texas, if you are growing wheat in Montana or rice somewhere else, you are ultimately better served if I can pick up the phone and talk with one of my counterparts in whatever country, and get this resolved sooner than later."

Although 'pragmatist' has been reduced to four-letter word status by many of my friends here on the left, it's going to take something of that nature to negotiate between the Charybdis and Scylla aspects of foreign trade policy. Profits were the only measure in the past but they can't be abdicated totally in our present economic abyss. Captain Richard Phillips, in the hands of Somalia pirates, has about as much prospect of easy sailing. Getting to a point that U.S. profits from trade on all levels, not just at the financiers' pinnacle, is the trick.

On the side of the mogul horde we have all sorts of forces rallying, as noted by Veterans Today when they discovered that the KKKarl Rove group was using their members to front for the usual dirty tricks with vile aims, as stated in their newsletter:

The group warning us about the New World Order is actually being led by the people they are supposed to be against.

It seems the Republican Party, after having been abandoned by the Christian Coalition, thought it could go after the Ron Paul supporters by pretending to be "just plain folks." Yup, the Forbes and DuPont familiies, Westinghouse, Prudential, Aetna and McDonald Douglass along with thousands of lawyers working for every crooked industry and phony front group in America, all suddenly "libertarians" supporting "the little guy" against big government and the rich.

This was the "dirty tricks" front group Karl Rove used during the campaigns, the ones that pumped out all thsoe stories we later learned were lies.

Trade Representative Ron Kirk has encountered these crooked forces before, and knows them well. We all wish Kirk well, and he will need those good wishes.

Still, brandishing the torches and pitchforks by the public has been a very good activity lately; it's made the point that the election laid down. Betrayals of the public interest are intolerable from any government, but this is the one that is called on to make right the many wrongs done to this country by criminal misconduct of the last maladministration.

Trade can enrich instead of beggar the U.S., and that is how it must be wielded by Ron Kirk if he is to fill his office as it should be filled.

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Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

A 'Free-Trader?'

Sorry, weren't those the guys who led us down the primrose path to NAFTA, CAFTA, and the sucking sound ot all thiose jobs going south?

Spare me!

Don't look for much in the way of 'change' in there.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Those didn't do what they were supposed to accomplish, under the previous administration, now did anything else handled by that executive branch. I do look for change.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Ruta, mia...

I fear they did EXACTLY what they were supposed to do.

When some Govt practice or policy doesn't seem to make sense, or seems contradictory, but continues, you have to reexamine your assumptions, and try to figger out in what system does that which seems contradictory, isn't.

7:22 AM  

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