My contribution dollars at work: Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) just appeared with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, refuting Republican talking points about domestic content provisions of the renewal package and about the White House making strategic mistakes in trying to get it passed.
This comes from a long exchange. There may be a clip somewhere on the net by now, but here are a few excerpts:
Mitchell: First of all, let me ask you about “Buy America”, because the Senate passed an amendment authored by Senators, I guess, Dorgan, Backus and you clarifying buy-America provisions and saying that they are consistent with international trade agreements; then, the European trade union said, “Not so fast. It would still result in a trade war.” Where do we stand now on Buy America in the current trade package?
Brown: Uh, the Senate spoke resoundingly. First of all, passed our amendment by a voice vote. Then, when Senator McCain tried to do away with all of the Buy America language, even though it has been in law, in U.S. law for seventy-five years, the Senate resoundingly more than two-to-one defeated it. I just find, I’m just incredulous, when we have, we have a $750 billion dollar trade deficit; we have the most open borders, the most open markets in the world; and, anyone would dare to say we are protectionist? It just doesn’t…, in Ohio we would say that just doesn’t pass the straight face test.
So, that’s just what the Europeans are going to say. They’re protecting their industry. They do subsidies as do the Chinese and they use tariffs; we’re doing none of that. We’re simply saying if we’re going to reach in our pockets and ask taxpayers to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in a stimulus package that the jobs should be in this country, when we build infrastructure and the materials that go into that infrastructure, into the building and the construction, should be made in the United States. It’s pretty simple.
It’s so refreshing to see someone talking sense about trade policy. Instead of just accepting the Republican talking point that this will be bad for trade, Brown goes back to the basics about it. First, if the playing field were level, we would not be handing over three-quarters of a trillion dollars a year to other countries to buy their products. Something is clearly wrong with this picture. Second, we don’t have to buy in to the European take on our trade policies. This legislation is first and foremost to get the American economy working again. Frankly, a better economy is better for all because so many other countries depend on our dollars to get by.
There’s a page on international trade policy in dKosopedia (see Framed: International Trade Agreements), which outlines what’s wrong with our trade policies. It’s time other Senators got on board with this.
Mitchell: A lot of economists would say that it raises the price by paying more for steel, let’s say, on construction projects, and that it will end up costing jobs and having the reverse effect. Since Boeing will lose contracts to AirBus, let’s just put it that way …
I hear them cry that every time every time there’s a trade agreement. The fact is, our trade policy, we have a $750 billion trade deficit. We…$2 billion dollars a day in trade-related dollars leave this country every single day of the year, and our trade policy clearly hasn’t worked. And, these same people that have written that trade policy are arguing against Buy America provisions. And, they’ve been proven wrong for ten years as my state and this country have lost hundreds of thousands, in my state and millions of manufacturing jobs because of our trade policies and because of our tax policies that encourage these companies to outsource jobs instead of hiring Americans. I just don’t understand how they can argue with any credibility that what we are doing is making sense.
Nailed it! These are the people who got us into this mess. Before they try to tell us how to spend the money maybe they should rebuild their credibility.
Ohio has been losing wealth-creating jobs for about fifty years. It took that long for them to throw off Republican rule and get a Democrat, but I guess if you literally starve a people eventually they’ll notice that they’ve been following the wrong policy and take action. The action here was to finally elect a Senator who will go to bat for their jobs (and ours, as Americans).
After this, there’s a clip of McCain whinging on on the Senate floor about how wrong the bill is, how he’d like more tax cuts. Tax cuts are useless as a stimulus. The only reason they are in the bill is because we need tax cuts for workers to get money back into the spending part of the economy. I’m sure McCain would like to extend those tax cuts to his rich buddies, but the stones don’t have any more blood to give.
In answer, Brown says McCain’s simply not right. We need infrastructure, he said, and “They’re standing in the way.”
Mitchell: And, where do you think, if you do think, the administration went off track here, when the President goes to The Hill, spends all that time with Senate and House Republicans, basically lets the House Democratic caucus write a bill and plan to fix it later in the Senate, in conference—did he give too much weight to the House Democrats and not scrub the bill enough going in?
Brown: Well, that’s the Republican talking points, that they can read the polls. Obama’s popular, so let’s blame Pelosi and Reid, and let’s blame the Democratic members of the House. This is a team effort. The bill is a good bill—it’s not perfect, it never will be when you spend that much money and when you need to do it in a pretty rapid way. But, this bill has accountability built in, it’s bold, it’s done right, it’s done with all kinds of Republican ideas, too. I wish they would be more bipartisan, but again, the people that oppose this are the ones who got us into this with their tax cuts for the rich and their deregulation of Wall Street. That’s why we need to do something very different.
Bingo! That’s a Republican talking point. ”It’s off track.” This is classic. You take a process that is inherently divisive, where it’s going to take a lot of haggling to get something passed, and then when there are delays and compromises, you claim that the President did something wrong. You claim that he made a mistake.
Brown shows this up for what it is: empty rhetoric. Let’s think about this. Did the President make a mistake? Did it get “off track”.
Actually, what he did was brilliant. He let the house put up something with all sorts of things the Republicans could object to. Then he “reluctantly” had them taken out, leaving only what he wanted in the first place. He went to the Republicans and heard them out. He cherry-picked their best ideas and put them into the bill. Then, when they thought they were winning, got overconfident and started pushing for things they shouldn’t get, he went over their heads to the American people and said, “These guys are standing in the way of you getting a job.”
Not very far off track, is it?