Obama’s Selection of Kirk for USTR Disappointing


Obama has announced his selection of Ron Kirk, a former mayor of Dallas and a supporter of NAFTA, as his U.S. Trade Representative – America’s head trade negotiator.  Earlier, he offered the job to Xavier Becerra, congressman from California, but it seems that Becerra declined, unwilling to give up his new leadership role in Congress. 

Based upon the information provided in this linked article, I find the selection of Kirk to be very disappointing.  Kirk will be just another in a long line of Trade Representatives who foolishly believes that he can open markets for American products in a way that benefits America. 

 President-elect Barack Obama will name former mayor Ron Kirk the post of U.S. trade representative on Friday, thrusting the pro-trade former Dallas mayor into a sensitive balancing act between unions and business interests.

John Murphy, vice president for international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, lauded Mr. Kirk’s record of support for free trade and its benefits in Texas, though he isn’t known nationally.

“Trade has been one of the only bright spots for the U.S. economy, and the Obama team is going to need every tool in its tool box,” he said.

Anyone who believes that trade has been a bright spot for the U.S. is easily identifiable as a free trade cheerleader – someone who ballyhooes exports while sweeping imports under the rug – all in an effort to obscure the damage that’s been done by the enormous trade deficit.  That such a person would think highly of the Kirk nomination is a bad sign. 

If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Kirk would probably spend much of his time overseas hammering out trade deals and persuading foreign leaders to drop trade barriers, curb movie piracy and open new markets for U.S. goods.

This is exactly the approach to trade that has yielded a $9.2 trillion trade deficit since 1975.  Trade barriers never, ever get dropped and “opening new markets” always begins with opening America’s market first.  And that’s as far as the trade deal ever gets.  Our trading partners aren’t fools and have suckered us into horrible deals for decades. 

More reason for concern:

As Dallas mayor from 1995 to 2001, Mr. Kirk touted free trade. In a series of overseas trips, he pitched the Dallas area as an ideal trading partner.

This is one Obama appointment that I hope isn’t confirmed:

The top Republican on the Senate panel that will confirm the next trade representative, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, questioned Mr. Kirk’s qualifications. Aides noted that while most of Mr. Obama’s Cabinet picks have deep experience in their fields, Mr. Kirk has little background on trade issues.

Kirk seems like an odd pick, since Becerra, Obama’s first choice, was more in line with Obama’s espoused concerns about the role of trade in the demise of our economy.  Obama had promised an overhaul of NAFTA.  Is he backing away from that commitment by nominating Kirk? 

Mr. Kirk’s chances for the job got a boost Tuesday when the top contender, Rep. Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles, said he would stay in Congress.

Mr. Obama reportedly offered the Californian the job two weeks ago. But Mr. Becerra recently won a House Democratic leadership post, and was apparently loath to give that up after concluding – as he told Los Angeles-based La Opinion –that trade “would not be priority No. 1, and perhaps, not even priority No. 2 or 3” for Mr. Obama.

This is all terribly disappointing.  Kirk looks like just one more free trade stooge who will leave trade negotiators in China, Japan, Korea and Germany rolling in the aisles with laughter when he leaves.

3 Responses to Obama’s Selection of Kirk for USTR Disappointing

  1. Robert says:


    Obama’s selection of Hilda Solis is not a good sign for our future. Below is a statement from FAIR regarding Hilda which reinforces my reasons for not voting for Senator Obama. I hope you were right in supporting the Senator but if I were to predict the weather from his cabinet picks I would be leaning towards stormy weather:

    Statement by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) on the Selection of Hilda Solis for Secretary of Labor

    Last update: 6:17 p.m. EST Dec. 18, 2008
    WASHINGTON, Dec 18, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ — In response to the selection of Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) as Secretary of Labor in the Obama administration, Dan Stein, president of FAIR, issued the following statement:
    “President-elect Obama’s selection of a labor secretary who has steadfastly opposed protecting American workers from the impact of millions of illegal aliens in our labor force is yet another blow to hard-working families who desperately need those jobs. Both in Congress and as a member of the California Legislature, Hilda Solis has vigorously opposed efforts to institute and enforce laws against employing illegal aliens.
    “If confirmed, Rep. Solis will assume the helm of the Department of Labor at a time when American workers face the worst crisis in generations. The U.S. economy has lost 1.25 million jobs during the last three months, and that crisis is likely to be exacerbated as the effects of the announced Chrysler shut-down ripple across the economy.
    “The Department of Labor has a critical role to play in developing and enforcing a system that holds all employers accountable for ensuring that the workers they hire are legally entitled to work in the U.S., in addition to ensuring that wage and safety standards are enforced. At a time when the nation is facing an unemployment crisis, we need a Labor secretary who is prepared to defend the interests of American workers, not an advocate for the rights of illegal aliens. Sadly, Rep. Solis’s record does not indicate that she will be the strong advocate desperate American workers need in their corner.
    “We hope that as president, Mr. Obama will uphold the trust the voters placed in him and make protecting the jobs of American workers a top priority. With more than 10 million Americans unemployed and millions more underemployed, it is essential that the new president direct all cabinet officers to use the authority of the federal government to ensure that American jobs are filled by legal U.S. workers.”
    Rep. Solis’s Record in Congress
    Rep. Solis was a cosponsor in 2007 of H.R. 1645, the STRIVE Act. The STRIVE Act would have granted amnesty to an estimated 12 million illegal aliens and severely undermined the interests of U.S. workers. H.R. 1645 would have:

    — Created a new H-2C guest worker visa, adding between 400,000 and 600,000
    new foreign guest workers. These workers would have been permitted to
    apply for permanent residency.
    — Allowed employers to layoff American workers in order to hire H-2C
    — Doubled the number of employment-based immigration visas.

    Other key votes relating to the interests of American workers included:

    — Support for allowing illegal aliens to collect Social Security benefits.
    — Opposition to REAL ID Act necessary to prevent illegal aliens from using
    fake IDs to gain employment.
    — Opposition to a measure to increase funding for E-Verify program.
    — Support, as a member of the California Legislature, for driver’s
    licenses for illegal aliens.

    About FAIR
    Founded in 1979, FAIR is the country’s largest and oldest immigration reform group. With over 250,000 members nationwide, FAIR fights for immigration policies that serve national interests, not special interests. FAIR believes that immigration reform must enhance national security, improve the economy, protect jobs, preserve our environment, and establish a rule of law that is recognized and enforced.


    Copyright (C) 2008 PR Newswire. All rights reserved End of Story

    • Pete Murphy says:

      Thanks, Robert. Yikes! In my disgust with Obama’s appointment of Kirk for USTR, I neglected to check out the background of Solis. Being a FAIR member myself, I’m surprised I missed this. I may cut and paste your comment into a new post.

  2. […] response to my post about Obama’s pick of Kirk for U.S. Trade Representative.  (See “Obama’s Selection of Kirk for USTR Disappointing.”)  As a member of FAIR myself, I find this nomination of Hilda Solis disturbing.  For […]

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