Monday, June 15, 2015

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 6/12/2015

"Shields and Brooks on Obama trade bill defeat, deploying more troops to Iraq" PBS NewsHour 6/12/2015


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including a defeat for President Obama from his own party on a trade deal vote, the White House announcement that the U.S. will send more military trainers to Iraq, Hillary Clinton gears up for a big rally.

(on Free Trade deal)

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times:  I think it’s not dead.  I think they’re going to come back to it.  Whether he can swing that many votes is sort of a problem.  It was sort of a big defeat.  And he hasn’t exactly proven himself to be an able salesman, as Peter DeFazio was saying, making it about himself.

And this has been a bit of his mode recently, serious peevishness, personal — making it personal, and then saying they’re not playing straight.  That’s probably not the best way to persuade people over.  And so he’s not been the best salesman.  And the party has moved to the left, and it’s especially moved to the left on trade.

On the substance, my problem is this.  You can argue about — we can argue about NAFTA and all the other things.  I think they have been amazingly positive goods, but this is not like those other trade agreements.

First, the primary reason we’re going to — we need this, the Pacific one, is political and foreign policy.  Asia is going to be the center of the world economy for the next X-number of years and we need to have a global architecture that’s stable and that doesn’t generate economic friction and that China doesn’t write.  And this is our shot to do it.

Second, this isn’t about reducing tariffs.  Those are gone.  This is about a bunch of other things having to do with the intellectual property rights, data flows, making sure other countries can’t use state-owned properties.  This is about areas where we have an undisputed advantage in services and pharmaceuticals, getting those protected, so they can sell overseas.

So, it seems to me the opponents are fighting the last war.  They’re fighting the war about NAFTA, when this is a very different sort of trade agreement.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  So, was it the selling job, Mark, or was it the substance?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated columnist:  It was the substance.  It was the substance, Judy.

And this has been the pattern.  There are no enforcement provisions in the trade agreement for workers’ rights.  You’re competing now with workers in Vietnam, who are making 56 cents an hour.  That is a disadvantage to Americans.

There is no enforcement for environmental standards and there’s certainly no enforcement, no even mechanism, as far as currency manipulation, which the Japanese and the Chinese have used to benefit in trade by driving down the price of their own goods, to the disadvantage of our country, as well as our workers.

So, I don’t argue with David that the great future in Asia.  But I don’t think this is the way to it.  As far as the President’s charm offensive, it was too little, too late.  He showed up at the congressional baseball game last night.  And he showed up at the caucus today, where he spoke for 40 minutes and didn’t take any questions and basically said, I know unemployed steelworkers on the South Side of Chicago.  I care.

It wasn’t unlike George Bush’s reelection campaign in New Hampshire in 1992, when there were questions about his empathy and the message is, I care.  That didn’t persuade anybody.

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