Thursday, March 17, 2005
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Rob Portman has his work cut out for him
The Bush appointments just keep on coming. Reuters reports that Bush has picked his next U.S. Trade Representative:
Here's the complete text of Bush's announcement. Both the President and Rep. Portman made nice sounds on trade expansion:
[So does this mean you remain hopeful that trade will be freer?--ed. Well, I see this appointment as a good news-bad news kind of situation. The good news is that Portman is a legitimate free trader. Daniel Griswold at the Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy Studies just published a briefing paper looking at Congressional attitudes towards trade, and Portman is categorized as a consistent free trader (his one major lapse was support for the steel tariffs).
The bad news is that, while I don't know the extent of the personal relationship between Portman and Bush,
UPDATE: Thanks to D.J. for this Capitol Hill Blue link from mid-2004 which suggests that Portman and Bush are actually pretty tight: "Among other members of Bush's brain trust are Vice President Dick Cheney; a brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; longtime adviser Karen Hughes; and Ohio Rep. Rob Portman, a longtime Bush family friend.... Portman, the only alumnus of the first Bush administration serving in Congress, is actively involved in Bush's strategy in industrial battleground states like his own." So maybe my "bad news" concerns are misplaced.posted by Dan on 03.17.05 at 11:59 AM
Drezner says: "The bad news is that, while I don't know the extent of the personal relationship between Portman and Bush, I have to guess that it's not terribly close."
In fact, I think the opposite is true. By all accounts, Bob Portman is a longtime friend of the Bush family. He was the director of the Office of Legislative Affairs in the Bush I administration, and was a member of W's small, inside circle of advisors in the '04 campaign. Check out this article as a sample:
Of course I don't know much more than I read in the press. But the Portman appointment seems to be another instance of Bush appointing loyalists with a private line to the Oval Office to his second cabinet. I think this is a good day for free trade.posted by: D.J. on 03.17.05 at 11:59 AM [permalink]
This is right. Portman was well liked in the first Bush White House and has been an able Representative in a House GOP caucus where ability is conspicuous by its rarity. The major elected officials in Ohio are all Republicans who aren't going anywhere, so Portman was open to a new challenge.
This is a good appointment, aimed at securing Congressional approval for the trade agreements Zoellick negotiated. Portman will have his hands full, but if he succeeds will punch a key ticket for his own political future. The downside of Portman's appointment will show up later, when he tries to negotiate additional trade agreements and manuever the United States through the Doha multilateral talks. No USTR negotiates all his own agreements, of course, but Portman has never done this kind of thing before, and Zoellick left enormous shoes to fill.
Having said that, though, if Congress were to reject CAFTA or the other agreements Zoellick left on the table momentum for trade liberalization could just about disappear, so Bush is not wrong to want someone at USTR able to make Congress his priority.posted by: Zathras on 03.17.05 at 11:59 AM [permalink]
Hmmmm...This seems to fall in the catagory
Portman is tight with Bush.
It will be interesting to see if anyone asks any emabarassing questions about the economy in Ohio, which has been devastated by NAFTA and the Chinese (and yes our governor is a dunce). An excellent analysis of manufacturing problems in WSJ early this week.
Our GOP Congressmen tend to have safe seats (Oxley in my district) so they tend to represent the Business Roundtable more than voters.
Ohio lost jobs the past four months, although there was a small gain for the year 2004. Still badly behind Y2000 levels. On target for a fourth consequtive personal bankruptcy record this year.
Michigan is in a similar bind, although Mich is more auto related and of course has the elected crazies who have destroyed Detroit.
Ohio and Michigan are so depressed few illegal aliens move here - that is depressed.
www.ealeygroup.composted by: Tom on 03.17.05 at 11:59 AM [permalink]
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