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In which I Praise President Barack Obama

Good on him. He's sticking by our ally President Uribe in Colombia. Investors Business Daily has the details:

Hugo Chavez may have gotten a grinning handshake from President Obama in Trinidad. But it was our authentic friend and ally, Colombia, that got substance. The president got one right...

It started Saturday, when he put himself next to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe at lunch and then studiously exchanged notes.

Having listened to Uribe, (and that must have been a nice dose of sanity after enduring 50 minutes of ravings from Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, or weird conspiracy theories by Bolivia's Evo Morales), Obama then seemed to realize that the long-stalled Colombia free trade agreement should have been passed yesterday.

The president announced that his team must find a way to pass the agreement. With world trade down 80%, the pact opens new markets to the U.S. He demanded immediate action, asking Colombia's trade minister to fly to Washington this week.

Then it got even better: Obama invited Uribe to the White House and promised to visit Colombia himself, allowing the Colombians to lay out for him their vast economic and social progress, and their desire to integrate into global trade.

I agree: President Obama got one right. IBD concludes with this:

At a press conference Monday, [U.S. Trade Representative Ron] Kirk was upbeat: "When you've got two willing partners, it's a pretty good recipe for getting things done." That beats handshakes. The Obama team is showing a welcome shift to substance over style, and that deserves notice.

Indeed, it does.

Hat tip: Instapundit


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Comments (24)

It's only Wednesday. By Fri... (Below threshold)
hermie:

It's only Wednesday. By Friday, he will 'discover' something which will 'enrage' him, and Columbia will say 'bye-bye' to any beneficial trade agreement.


No, Hermie - I think (hope,... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

No, Hermie - I think (hope, actually) Obama's realized he's got to start working instead of campaigning or posturing for the cameras. The Dems have been stalling action on Columbia for quite some time, and now THEIR guy is in this ought to go through relatively smoothly.

I agree, Kim. Excellent dec... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

I agree, Kim. Excellent decison by the president.

That's certainly a very pos... (Below threshold)
Tim:

That's certainly a very positive first step. Free trade throughout the Americas wiil help everyone's economy, and may reduce the rate of migration. Maybe we can even use Colombia as an example for other countries in Latin America, to help guide them away from socialism and dictators to a more open and free society.

So...basically...this means... (Below threshold)
Mina:

So...basically...this means BUSH WAS RIGHT when he begged the effing congress to pass the trade agreement with Colombia and Pelosi and her thugs let it languish because it was Bush who was asking?

I hate these people. This needed to be done 10 months ago, but they had to wait until a Democrat wanted it.

Well, yeah, M... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Well, yeah, Mina. Of course! Gotta stick with the story line - Bush didn't have ANY good ideas, evarrr!

Obama's in now, so the Columbia thing can go full speed ahead!

I'll bet Congress rolls him... (Below threshold)
solane:

I'll bet Congress rolls him on this too and that he backs down, as usual. It seems to depend on who talks to him last.

You're probably right, Sola... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

You're probably right, Solane.

Once Pelosi pulls him into her office and yells at him for NOT going through her for stuff like this, Columbia will be back on the back burner again.

I mean, who the hell does he think he is - the President or something to go out and make decisions regarding stuff like this?

I hope he is strong enough ... (Below threshold)
grace:

I hope he is strong enough to withstand the attacks that will come against this trade agreement. There are always those who will be harmed by free trade and they mostly live in the world of the labor unions.
Example - new trade barriers just this past week on the Canadian soft wood industry.
The president has not shown much backbone when it comes to standing up to his base.

It's not done yet, and ther... (Below threshold)
Greg Toombs:

It's not done yet, and there's been no commitment from Obama, so there's always time for 'change' (again) on this issue.

I tend to agree with Hermie's outcome prediction, given Obama's dependence on the usual Democrat party hacks who will howl at any suggestion of this.

I agree with those above wh... (Below threshold)
kcom:

I agree with those above who are taking a wait and see attitude. It does sound like great news but since Obama seems pretty comfortable saying one thing and then doing the exact opposite (frequently the very next day), I'm withholding judgment until the the papers are actually signed and the ink is dry.

---

I also found this morning's news interesting because there have been lots of news reports about Obama's interactions with Chavez and Ortega over the last few days but I didn't hear anything about Uribe. I was wondering if Obama was giving him the stiff arm and measuring Colombia for a place under the proverbial bus. So this morning's new was a pleasant surprise and I hope things stay on track.

I'll believe it when I see ... (Below threshold)
newpetrol:

I'll believe it when I see it.

I agree with #1 and those t... (Below threshold)
Jackson Laurence:

I agree with #1 and those taking a wait-and-see attitude. As Jim Geraghty said many times, "All statements from Obama come with an expiration date. All of them." I want to believe him, I really do, but he makes it nigh impossible with his constant dithering on every subject that comes across his desk.

I am looking forward to the... (Below threshold)
Blaine:

I am looking forward to the day Helen Thomas starts lecturing the administration on its policies.

Tim: Free trade through... (Below threshold)
Borealis:

Tim: Free trade throughout the Americas wiil help everyone's economy, and may reduce the rate of migration.

Yeah - as anyone can see, NAFTA worked wonders in reducing migration from Mexico. And never forget: running massive trade deficits with most of our trading partners is good for our economy. (And if it's not, well, I'm sure the huge consumer demand that Colombia can provide for all kinds of U.S. exports will turn those troubling numbers right around!) Only idiot socialists and overpaid union workers have any quibble with any of our current or pending "free" trade agreements. And since Chavez and Ortega suck, it follows that Uribe is a swell guy!

I like business issues myse... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

I like business issues myself, and I support expanding trade and business. And some interests in the United States could benefit from more trade. However, one cannot overlook the serious complications of NAFTA for example. American corn is taxpayer subsidized for example, and was dumped on the Mexican agriculture market at prices far below what local farmers in Mexico could compete with because of NAFTA, driving down farm wages by a good third, driving many former Mexican farmers first into mountainside shanty towns, and finally as waves of illegal immigrants into the U.S.

Will a new free trade deal with a South American country mean that a few American businesses will make lots of money? Certainly. Will this also mean more cheap South American imports of some items will hurt some American jobs? Certainly. Could a new South American free trade agreement mean more illegal immigration into the U.S.? Likely.

Expanded American trade is a path out of this serious recession for a few businesses. But the complications and costs of the negative effects of NAFTA, as a good example, which has overwhelmed California with huge social service costs for the waves of illegal Mexican immigrants as a result of NAFTA seem to seriously challenge whether the bigger profits for a few large corn farmers justify bankrupting a large state like California with the social costs of this trade legislation.

Reasonable advanced trade. Not just "free trade" seems like a more reasonable path to me.

I hope Obama does push this... (Below threshold)
CDR M:

I hope Obama does push this agreement through Congress. This has been long overdue. Colombia is a very important ally in the region. Bonus for Obama is that Catepillar will gain big time from such an agreement and perhaps will hire people to push out more product. I'm sure Obama will claim it to be a result of the stimulus but in reality, it will due to the CFTA being passed. bottom line, a win for America if passed.

This seems to be a common O... (Below threshold)

This seems to be a common Obama strategy, of appearing accommodating to tyrants while doing better things low profile. I think it's a terrible strategy, exactly the sort of thing that naive Europhiles think works. But I will grant it at least has some reasoning behind it.

Paul, I think you and I wou... (Below threshold)
Tim:

Paul, I think you and I would agree that subsidized corn isn't really Free Trade for anyone. We need to eliminate as many tariffs and subsidies as we can. Unfortunately, no one from either side of the aisle is willing to cross the lobbying colossus ADM. Plus, we'll never get rid of corn subsidies as long as Iowa has the first caucus.

Paul,You're blamin... (Below threshold)
Kenny:

Paul,

You're blaming NAFTA for the massive illegal immigration that is bankrupting California?

Wow! I gotta visit Oregon and get some of what you're smoking!

I hate to let reality intrude into your alternate-reality world, but we have had a massive illegal immigration problem in California well before NAFTA was thought up. And while they are a large part of the problem, it is more than social spending on illegals that is bankrupting California.


I like business is... (Below threshold)
I like business issues myself, and I support expanding trade and business.

Friendship with Colombia is not just about trade; as CDR M has pointed out, the country is an important US ally in the region, especially when dealing with despotic commie thugs like Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales.

Let's see if Obama get this... (Below threshold)

Let's see if Obama get this one right in the long run.

Kenny: I hate to let re... (Below threshold)
Borealis:

Kenny: I hate to let reality intrude into your alternate-reality world, but we have had a massive illegal immigration problem in California well before NAFTA was thought up.

While California has always had an illegal immigration problem, NAFTA resulted in a huge increase in the rate of migration from Mexico - to California and to many other states as well. (Look up the stats before you start accusing other people of living in alternate realities.) What NAFTA didn't do was decrease migration - a claim that was one of its big selling points. There is zero evidence to support the view that further NAFTA style agreements will decrease migrant flows.

Tim: Paul, I think you and I would agree that subsidized corn isn't really Free Trade for anyone. We need to eliminate as many tariffs and subsidies as we can. Unfortunately, no one from either side of the aisle is willing to cross the lobbying colossus ADM.

But that's just the problem, Tim. It's not just ADM - and, as you say, nobody is willing to take on their lobbying colossus. Multiply the distortions that ADM subsidies introduce by those introduced by any number of other deep-pocket players, and then throw in the fact that our trading partners run endless subsidies and "crypto-tariffs" themselves, and you realize that "free trade" does not exist. To keep insisting that "we just need more free trade" is as much an ideological folly as insisting that "communism really will work, it just hasn't been implemented properly yet". Sure some companies and workers are going to benefit from this or that trade agreement - they would never have passed if somebody who would benefit wasn't out there lobbying for them. You can't just look at Caterpillar, you have to look at the big picture. And the big picture in trade, for the last couple of decades for the U.S., does not look good.

Even a blind squirrel finds... (Below threshold)
bnorm:

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.




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