NAFTA Critic Selected for U.S. Trade Representative

by: David Sirota

Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 22:44

This just off the Bloomberg News wire:

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.

David Sirota :: NAFTA Critic Selected for U.S. Trade Representative

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See, guys, Sirota can be complimentary towards Obama when he wants to! j/k (4.00 / 3)
Anyway, great post. Despite what others may say or think, I enjoy your contribution to this site. No one stirs up the Open Left crowd quite like you.

Well (0.00 / 0)
Well after you called obama "Dear Leader" and his supporters "Brown shirts" I suppose the quality of posts can only possibly go higher from there. good start.

Apparently 100% purity is demanded from the brownshirts for the Dear Leader (3.20 / 5)

[ Parent ]
Point proven. (2.00 / 4)
Rude, dismissive topped with a Fascist language flavored tone toward people who criticize your points. What makes you better than GOP smear merchants with that kind of language and tone? Your the far left equivalent to their  far right crazies.

[ Parent ]
Exactly - point proven! (4.00 / 3)

[ Parent ]
Man you can be obtuse (2.00 / 2)
God forbid you respond to Barry's point seriously or with any introspection.  

[ Parent ]
does quality go up as criticism goes down? (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
asdf (4.00 / 2)
Legitimate Criticism by him == The tone he uses against anyone who offend by his unreasonable rants. In fact if he is willing to dish out criticism so willingly he should be able to take it and explain himself when challenged (not make a hisssy update and brush aside everything in a chillness manner). This dose not apply to this thread but applies to the comment he made in the comments section.

[ Parent ]
i'm happy to see a few good signs. to me, balance is a minimum requirement. (4.00 / 2)
i'm okay with the team of rivals. so long as some of those rivals are progressive, and pulling away from unconditional free trade, unconditional free markets, and the like.

He's good, but not great. (4.00 / 2)
Overall, the pro-free-trade CATO Institute gives him an overall 65% rating on backing free trade, and a slightly better rating in the most recent Congress.

Perhaps part of that is his original NAFTA vote, now repudiated.  But based on Obama's previous appointments, I agree with you,  It's better than expected.

I hope you're right about this:

The selection suggests Obama is serious about reforming our trade policies, and it should be applauded.

Maybe, but we should keep the pressure on.

Good post, David.

A guy who whipped against CAFTA as USTR? (4.00 / 2)
Beccera + Grijalva = we got our progressives.  Not necessarily in the slots we wanted (AG would have been nice, NSA even better), but we got some.

Also I think Daschle at HHS+WestWing was underappreciated.  Daschle means real health care reform is coming.  I want energy more than anything, but health care has been a white whale for what, 60 years now?

And Waxman at E&C is also pretty exciting.  

Weird Post (4.00 / 2)
You spent months informing us (correctly) that the Peru Free Trade Pact fits the NAFTA trade model and now you claim that someone who supported it is "against the NAFTA trade model."

Here's what the Citizens Trade Campaign said about the Peru Pact:

The Peru Free Trade Agreement replicates many of the problems in NAFTA and CAFTA (see CTC Statement). Some of these problems include: investment rules that promote the off-shoring of US jobs; forbidding local, state and federal government from favoring local or US businesses in their procurement policies; and mandating the importation of food that does not meet our safety standards.

Some Members of Congress are operating under the mistaken impression that Labor supports the Peru deal, but it's not true. While some unions have chosen not to actively oppose the Peru FTA, there is not ONE that supports it. Likewise, not one civil rights organization supports this agreement.

Nor did a single environmental group support it.

Then there's the impact on Peruvian farmers who will be made even poorer when forced to compete against heavily subsidized American farmers. That's why all citizen action groups in Peru oppose it.

Did you actually think O would name someone who still thinks NAFTA was a dandy idea? Hell, it's hard to find a Democrat who thinks that. You know, he could've have picked someone who didn't actually vote for it.

It's not a bad pick. He's opposed some deals, including Oman (which Obama supported) and CAFTA, but "damn good"? You know as well as anyone that there are dozens of people in Congress alone with better records on trade.

Obama picked a progressive to work on his single worst policy issue.

Don't go soft on us now, Sirota.

China (4.00 / 1)
I don't mean to be a free-trade apologist, but opening trade with China has resulted in a greater decrease in human poverty than any other event in history. It is not something to just sneer at, even if it is clearly imperfect.

Anyway, yeah, this is great news.  

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

But a lot of jobs here were outsourced... (0.00 / 0)
We got the short end of the stick...

[ Parent ]
Something an appropriate "fair trade" agreement can address (4.00 / 1)
In principle, with "free trade", the overall economic pie gets bigger.

The way many, perhaps most, "free trade" agreements have been structured, our share of the pie has almost always become smaller.

But even with current free trade agreements, we do benefit in some ways.

For example, Buick is huge in China, ref


Buick announced last year it would expand its international reach following a four-year, $800 million (USD) agreement signed by General Motors and Shanghai GM (SGM) to export Enclaves to China beginning in the fourth quarter of 2008. Enclave will be imported by Shanghai GM and sold through a network of more than 400 Buick dealerships across China. The plant visit by Chinese Quality Certification Center and SGM officials is another step in this agreement.

[ Parent ]
9 of Becerra's "Pro-Trade" Votes Were to Expand Trade With Cuba! (0.00 / 0)
So I guess you could say the Devil-is-in-the-details when it comes to the Cato Institute's  65% "pro trade" rating of Rep. Becerra! While Becerra's voting record is  not perfect, Obama has selected a trade skeptic to the post of U.S. Trade Representative and this is huge! Thank you President-Elect Obama for making such a brilliant choice!

Give a DINO more than a bone!


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