Representative Xavier Becerra, a California Democrat who once declared U.S. trade policy was "broken completely," has been offered the job of President- elect Barack Obama's top trade official, two Democrats close to the transition office said.
Becerra, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees trade policy, said in a 2005 interview that he regretted voting for Nafta in 1993, and cited the problems with the trade accord as a reason he helped lead the opposition to the Central American Free Trade Agreement that year.
He also voted against a free-trade agreement with Oman, using the example of the record U.S. trade deficit with China as a reason to oppose it.
Beccera hasn't accepted yet, but if he does, my initial reaction is that this is a solid choice. No, it's not perfect - Beccera voted for the landmark China PNTR deal in 2000 and for the Peru Free Trade Agreement. But perfect shouldn't be the enemy of the damn good.
Getting a U.S. Trade Representative who is on record against the NAFTA trade model and with votes against CAFTA and Oman is a huge change from both the Bush administration and the Clinton administration. And it's not just a good pick because it's a change from really bad Trade Representatives, the selection itself is good - and way, way, way better than what it could have been. The selection suggests Obama is serious about reforming our trade policies, and it should be applauded.