Saturday, December 04, 2010

Those silly Truthers...

A few days ago I read Tim Burrack's contempt-riddled rant about the failure of the Korean FTA while Obama was in Korea.  In their modestly labeled blog - THE TRUTH (which amazingly always seems to align with Big Biotech corporate PR) - several of my ex-NCGA buddies relentlessly expound one narrow view of all the news they deem important. And all of it seems to boil down to: there is no problem biotech can't solve.

It almost makes me wonder where their funding comes from.

Anyhoo, Tim was grasping for language of sufficient outrage  to outline the scope of the disaster in Korea.

First President Obama was defeated at home. Then he toured Asia and was defeated abroad.
His inability to secure a trade agreement with South Korea represents a major setback for a White House that had staked a lot on the successful completion of the accord. It also raises serious questions about the president’s comprehension of the challenges to achieve trade agreements and the importance of America’s economic engagement with the world.
On free trade, the president has over-promised and under-delivered.
The pacts with Colombia and Panama remain important, but they’re also dwarfed by the deal with South Korea, our seventh-largest trading partner. A successful agreement with Korea would become America’s biggest trade accord since NAFTA--a pact finalized by Bill Clinton, Obama’s Democratic predecessor--and mark a significant step toward the goal of doubling exports.
Obama said he would get it done. In June, he gave himself the deadline of last week’s G-20 summit in Seoul. This seemed like a reasonable date because it pushed the issue beyond the midterm elections, safeguarding it from demagoguery.
On the Sunday after the elections, Obama contributed an op-ed to the New York Times. He offered a powerful argument for free trade.
"The great challenge of our time is to make sure that America is ready to compete for jobs and industries of the future." he wrote. "It can be tempting, in times of economic difficulty, to turn inward, away from trade and commerce with other nations. But in our interconnected world, that is not a path to growth, and this is not a path to jobs."
Obama also singled out the specific opportunity with South Korea. "President Lee Myung-bak and I will work to complete a trade pact that could be worth tens of billions of dollars in increased exports and thousands of jobs for American workers. Other nations like Canada and members of the European Union are pursuing trade pacts with South Korea, and American businesses are losing opportunities to sell their products in this growing market. We used to be the top exporter to South Korea; now we are in fourth place and have seen our share of Korea’s imports drop in half over the last decade."
What happened to the man who wrote these words? Well, he didn’t seal the deal. The president’s self-imposed deadline has come and gone and he has done nothing tangible to increase trade –just more words.
This is what kids call an "epic fail."
Right after the elections, Obama confessed to a "shellacking" by voters. His failure in Korea is a variation on the same theme--a shellacking suffered at the hands of Big Labor, which rigidly opposes just about any trade policy that doesn’t involve economic isolationism. [More]
Well, guess what, Tim? By taking some time (all of two weeks) and doing the hard work while ignoring right-wing critics who can't imagine letting trade negotiators pass up political photo ops to nail down details, the administration got a fair deal not just for Tim and his friends but the American car industry.
According to what is known so far, the South Korean side has made big concessions in the automotive sector, agreeing to postpone for five years the abolition of the 2.5 percent US tax on South Korean auto imports and at the same giving the green light for more US made cars to be exempted its safety standards. Now, any automaker can bring into South Korea 25,000 vehicles, compared to 6,500.

The American automotive industry sees the FTA as a major success, with GM being among the first to express its satisfaction. In a statement released today, the car maker says it now has time to “assess whether Korea's market has opened as negotiated before reducing its tariffs.” [More]
In  other words, the tightly controlled Korean car market now represents an opportunity for people who depend on that industry for their future. But since there is no biotech involved, Tim didn't seem to care about that particular group of Americans.

So wipe the spittle off your monitor, Tim, and come up with some other niggling issue with this accord so you won't have to acknowledge THE TRUTH of an Obama success.
I would suggest using the words "epic success". 
And "gnarly".


Anonymous said...

Yeah biotech is supposed to be able to do it all even though it hasn't done half of what it promised. Heck who needs rain with drought resistant corn! Life's processes are complex and biological variables are such pesky things. After all of these years the biotech ideology must still be proclaimed over and over again.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why Burrack feels compelled to vilify the president with such vitriol, and not recognize that it takes two to tango. If the other party wants a deal but will not concede anything, why would it be in our interest to sign onto that? He seems to think that all the president has to do is snap his fingers and they will agree to what we want. Burrack has been exposed as the party hack and corporate biotech stooge that he is.

Anonymous said...

I don't raise autos (pay off for unions?) I raise cattle, which was omitted from the deal. But thats OK cause we're doing all right, most of us are in red states anyway so we can afford to be thrown under the bus for the sake of a "successful deal".

From Virginia said...

and Obama gave away two years of tariffs on U.S. pork going into Korea to compensate for what he achieved for auto labor unions. He also ignored the whole issue of trade for the first 18 months of his administration, somehow not seeing the connection to jobs (see yesterday's unemployment report.)

John Phipps said...


The NCBA signed off on the deal. In fact they made a point of expressing similar disappointment 2 weeks ago and reiterating beef was NOT the hangup.


Gosh every special interest didn't get exactly what they wanted - what a surprise.

Grousing about not getting it done earlier often is just an excuse to avoid admitting it got done at all.

Do we want a FTA with SoKo or not? Is this one too flawed to prefer none?

Anonymous said...

John, Do you mean these guys are ex-NCGA or ex-buddies? Anyway, great job on calling this blogger on his "contempt-riddled rant". The truth will triumph over "The Truth".

John Phipps said...


I should have been clearer. We were comrades in NCGA back in the day, and I still consider them friends. We simply differ on this point.

I would have zero friends if they all had to agree with me on every issue.

anon4 said...

Sorry John, this was my feeble attempt at humor. Good point, though--I always wondered why I have zero friends.

From Virginia said...

John, why doesn't your "Gosh every special interest didn't get exactly what they wanted - what a surprise" apply to the original deal that was inked in 2007?

The point is, it WAS done earlier...but Obama rejected it in order to get a better deal for HIS special interest group friends (labor unions) and U.S. pork producers got a poorer deal as a result.

John Phipps said...


I suppose we could calculate the economic values involved to see exactly what the tradeoff was, but would either side accept any such valuation?

Farmers overwhelmingly oppose Obama (e.g. Tim's tone) and I doubt that protecting the pork issue on this now-to-be ignored deal would gain him one vote.

If Karl Rove was his political adviser what priority would he suggest?

There is no upside in farm country for Obama, hence I wonder why our special interest groups are surprised by their lack of leverage.

Ask your board members if including the pork better deal would make them more likely to vote for Obama in 2012 or change their views on his administration.