Becerra Turns Down USTR

by: David Sirota

Wed Dec 17, 2008 at 10:35

This story from Bloomberg is too bad - but let's hope Obama selects another fair-trader for the position:

Representative Xavier Becerra, a California Democrat, said he turned down an offer by President- elect Barack Obama to be U.S. Trade Representative and will stay in Congress.

In an interview with La Opinion, a Spanish-language newspaper in his hometown of Los Angeles, Becerra said that he didn't want the job because trade was not a priority for Obama.

"My concern is how much weight this position would have had, and I reached the conclusion that it would not be a top priority, or even second or third priority," Becerra told the newspaper's editorial board.

That last part about the priority of trade is a bit disturbing, because - as noted earlier - in order to make sure economic stimulus works, we must start reforming our trade policies. Otherwise, we're just shipping more American dollars overseas. To use a bad metaphor, if you don't plug the systemic leaks in the hull of your boat (ie. your trade policy structure), no amount of bailing water is going to keep you (ie. your economy) afloat. So, as Businessweek's cover story implies, trade has to be an integral part of the highest priority of all - economic recovery.

That said, Becerra's comment about priorities could mean that Obama passing new bilateral trade deals will not be a priority. Considering that bilateral trade deals have almost all been NAFTA-style in structure, not passing anymore of those would be progress.

UPDATE: Reuters reports that "Others seen as possible candidates for [USTR] are former Rep. Harold Ford, a Tennessee Democrat who now heads the Democratic Leadership Council." That would be truly awful - and would suggest a complete U-turn from all the policy promises on trade Obama made during the campaign.

David Sirota :: Becerra Turns Down USTR

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Trade wouldn't have been in my top 3 priorities either (4.00 / 1)
And I find it a little odd that Becerra turned this job down because trade isn't a top 3 priority.

I know his comments were made to an editorial board, but I bet we hear some clarification about this pretty soon.

well ... (4.00 / 3)
... if you're going to give up a safe (and increasingly powerful) House seat for a temporary position, there better be a good reason.

[ Parent ]
There's no reason (0.00 / 0)
to take that literally; his point was clear enough: trade will be on the backburner.

[ Parent ]
you (0.00 / 0)
want trade to be a top 3 priority!?

holy crap, Ford... (4.00 / 10)
would be an absolute train wreck.  

though ... (4.00 / 1)
... he did vote against CAFTA, it seems.

[ Parent ]
With the Senate in his sights (4.00 / 5)
Interpretations may differ, but I have a feeling that Ford is a dyed-in-the-wool "free trader" who voted against CAFTA because he thought it might be politically useful to have done so when he was running for Senate.

[ Parent ]
Ford is awful (4.00 / 1)
and I think there is zero chance Obama is considering him. Sounds like the report that Obama was thinking about keeping Hayden at CIA--total crap.

[ Parent ]
Ken Salazar (0.00 / 0)
Seems to indicate a different pattern.

[ Parent ]
I would disagree with that... (0.00 / 0)
seeing as Ken Salazar has a 95% rating from Progressive Punch on Environmental issues. Now, I question PP's methodology, but they do give you the opportunity to look into the votes and judge for yourself.

I personally think Ken Salazar is a good pick for Interior and an acceptable substitute for Raúl Grijalva. Keep in mind what department Ken Salazar was chosen to head.

[ Parent ]
The same site that gives HRC a 90%? (0.00 / 0)
Yeah it's still Ken Salazar.

[ Parent ]
Ahem. (0.00 / 0)
Now, I question PP's methodology, but they do give you the opportunity to look into the votes and judge for yourself.

[ Parent ]
Also, (0.00 / 0)
If You don't believe Progressive Punch, how about the league of conservation voters?

In the 109th Congress he got a 78.
In this congress, he got an 85.

In the first half of this congress, he got a 73
In the second half of this congress, he got a 100.

My point? The only thing he's bad on is oil, but still, telling from his record, it's a good, solid pick.

[ Parent ]
Or (4.00 / 2)
Like (some suspect) the Evan Bayh as VP rumors, a name floated to make the ultimate pick look better in comparison?  

[ Parent ]
There is no source for (4.00 / 8)
Ford speculation in the article.

Others seen as possible candidates are former Rep. Harold Ford, a Tennessee Democrat who now heads the Democratic Leadership Council, and Ron Kirk, a former mayor of Dallas who has acknowledged having talks with the Obama transition team about taking a job in the new administration.

Seen by whom?

The article is entitled: Business in the dark on Obama trade pick.

The only quoted is: a top official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Daniel Christman, senior vice president of international affairs at the business group.

The rest is "But many say" or "Others seen as possible" constuctions.

In other words, Ford likely is Chamber of Commerce wishful thinking.

[ Parent ]
The other candidates cited (0.00 / 0)
Dan Tarullo sounds promising, as the leader of the auto industry transition group, though I know nothing else about him.

Ron Kirk - I thought he was interested in running for Senate, when Hutchinson runs for Gov in 2010.

Tarullo (4.00 / 1)
Would be a good solid pick. He's a fellow at Center for American Progress and his views line up with Becerra's and Obama's. Free trade in some cases, but not in the NAFTA/CAFTA model. Here's his testimony against CAFTA that gives a look at his views and generally Obama's on trade


He may want a role on broader international economic issues in the Treasury's Department or NEC though as he's also a expert on reforming the IMF and World Bank. If he'd take trade he'd be a great choice though.

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

[ Parent ]
So now how many true-blue (0.00 / 0)
progressives are there in O's admin?

(Not that Beccerra was especially progressive on trade)

How many (4.00 / 2)
true-blue progressives are there?

It seems to me that we can't even decide how many there are on this site.

[ Parent ]
There is only one! (4.00 / 2)
And I am it.

[ Parent ]
There can be only one!! (4.00 / 3)
***Cue Highlander music***

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

[ Parent ]
Right, I get it (4.00 / 2)
that's the line coming from Team O (not saying you're on it): progressive, a subjective label, is a meaningless term (unlike conservative, right?), which should not be used, which cannot be used, 'cause we're living in Obama's pomo morally relativistic world, where there is no provable progressivism, except for whatever Obama says and does.

[ Parent ]
Ron Kirk (4.00 / 1)
I've seen several media reports that former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk is being considered for a position in Obama's Cabinet.  It has been reported that Kirk has confirmed that he is being vetted by the transition team, although he did say for what position.  While some have speculated that he is being considered as U.S. Trade Representative, most speculation suggests that he is a candidate for Transportation Secretary.

Harold Ford??? (4.00 / 4)
I think I just barfed on myself. Can we start a Greenwald/Firedoglake-style campaign to make sure he DOESN'T get the post?

thank you (4.00 / 1)
that's the only laugh i've gotten out of this news. maybe we can just rehire the blonde from the senate ad for it.

seriously, Ford makes Hillary look like Wellstone.  

[ Parent ]
Ford makes Evan Bayh look like Wellstone. (n/t) (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Other countries getting our monies! (0.00 / 0)
Oh noes!

Offshoring jobs (4.00 / 3)
Princeton economist Alan Blinder has estimated that 25-32 million US jobs have a high possibility of being outsourced.  A more recent "study" found far worse.  The entire Harvard Business School Class of 2009 (all 900 students) was broken down into sub groups and asked to rate th possibility of outsourcing each of 774 job classifications on a scale of 0 (impossible) to 100 (easy) for outsourcing.  Their result: any where from 28 to 57 million US jobs could be outsourced.

Trade sounds pretty important to me.

sigh. maybe (4.00 / 1)
when it's not just factory workers getting displaced will people start caring about this issue. David, do you have any links on those?

[ Parent ]
It hasn't been just factory workers for at least 10 years. (4.00 / 1)
factories don't function in a vacuum.  they have engineers, it people, accountants, and administrative types.  

[ Parent ]
you're absolutely right, but still (0.00 / 0)
i know folks who still have a "it's not affecting me, so why bother" attitude about trade.  but it's coming for everyone, if we're not careful.

[ Parent ]
alumni newsletter (0.00 / 0)
The information is from an alumni newsletter called "working knowledge."  I/m nt too swift with links but the site lkists the link to the article as

[ Parent ]

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