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Remarks by the President on Jobs, Energy Independence, and Climate Change East Room of the White House January 26, 2009
Good morning. Before I begin today's announcement, I want to say a few words about the deepening economic crisis that we've inherited and the need for urgent action.
Over the last few days we've learned that Microsoft, Intel, United Airlines, Home Depot, Sprint Nextel, and Caterpillar are each cutting thousands of jobs. These are not just numbers on a page. As with the millions of jobs lost in 2008, these are working men and women whose families have been disrupted and whose dreams have been put on hold.
We owe it to each of them and to every, single American to act with a sense of urgency and common purpose. We can't afford distractions and we cannot afford delays. And that is why I look forward to signing an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that will put millions of Americans to work and lay the foundation for stable growth that our economy needs and that our people demand. These are extraordinary times and it calls for swift and extraordinary action.
At a time of such great challenge for America, no single issue is as fundamental to our future as energy. America's dependence on oil is one of the most serious threats that our nation has faced. It bankrolls dictators, pays for nuclear proliferation, and funds both sides of our struggle against terrorism. It puts the American people at the mercy of shifting gas prices, stifles innovation and sets back our ability to compete.
These urgent dangers to our national and economic security are compounded by the long-term threat of climate change, which if left unchecked could result in violent conflict, terrible storms, shrinking coastlines and irreversible catastrophe. These are the facts and they are well known to the American people -- after all, there is nothing new about these warnings. Presidents have been sounding the alarm about energy dependence for decades. President Nixon promised to make our energy -- our nation energy independent by the end of the 1970s. When he spoke, we imported about a third of our oil; we now import more than half.
Year after year, decade after decade, we've chosen delay over decisive action. Rigid ideology has overruled sound science. Special interests have overshadowed common sense. Rhetoric has not led to the hard work needed to achieve results. Our leaders raise their voices each time there's a spike in gas prices, only to grow quiet when the price falls at the pump.
Now America has arrived at a crossroads. Embedded in American soil and the wind and the sun, we have the resources to change. Our scientists, businesses and workers have the capacity to move us forward. It falls on us to choose whether to risk the peril that comes with our current course or to seize the promise of energy independence. For the sake of our security, our economy and our planet, we must have the courage and commitment to change.
It will be the policy of my administration to reverse our dependence on foreign oil, while building a new energy economy that will create millions of jobs. We hold no illusion about the task that lies ahead. I cannot promise a quick fix; no single technology or set of regulations will get the job done. But we will commit ourselves to steady, focused, pragmatic pursuit of an America that is free from our energy dependence and empowered by a new energy economy that puts millions of our citizens to work.
Today, I'm announcing the first steps on our journey toward energy independence, as we develop new energy, set new fuel efficiency standards, and address greenhouse gas emissions. Each step begins to move us in a new direction, while giving us the tools that we need to change.
First, we must take bold action to create a new American energy economy that creates millions of jobs for our people. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan before Congress places a down payment on this economy. It will put 460,000 Americans to work, with clean energy investments and double the capacity to generate alternative energy over the next three years. It will lay down 3,000 miles of transmission lines to deliver this energy to every corner of our country. It will save taxpayers $2 billion a year by making 75 percent of federal buildings more efficient. And it will save working families hundreds of dollars on their energy bills by weatherizing 2 million homes.
This is the boost that our economy needs, and the new beginning that our future demands. By passing the bill, Congress can act where Washington has failed to act over and over again for 30 years. We need more than the same old empty promises. We need to show that this time it will be different. This is the time that Americans must come together on behalf of our common prosperity and security.
Second, we must ensure that the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow are built right here in the United States of America. Increasing fuel efficiency in our cars and trucks is one of the most important steps that we can take to break our cycle of dependence on foreign oil. It will also help spark the innovation needed to ensure that our auto industry keeps pace with competitors around the world.
We will start by implementing new standards for model year 2011 so that we use less oil and families have access to cleaner, more efficient cars and trucks. This rule will be a down payment on a broader and sustained effort to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Congress has passed legislation to increase standards to at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020. That 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency for our cars and trucks could save over 2 million barrels of oil every day -- nearly the entire amount of oil that we import from the Persian Gulf.
Going forward, my administration will work on a bipartisan basis in Washington and with industry partners across the country to forge a comprehensive approach that makes our economy stronger and our nation more secure.
Third, the federal government must work with, not against, states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. California has shown bold and bipartisan leadership through its effort to forge 21st century standards, and over a dozen states have followed its lead. But instead of serving as a partner, Washington stood in their way. This refusal to lead risks the creation of a confusing and patchwork set of standards that hurts the environment and the auto industry.
The days of Washington dragging its heels are over. My administration will not deny facts, we will be guided by them. We cannot afford to pass the buck or push the burden onto the states. And that's why I'm directing the Environmental Protection Agency to immediately review the denial of the California waiver request and determine the best way forward. This will help us create incentives to develop new energy that will make us less dependent on oil that endangers our security, our economy, and our planet.
As we move forward, we will fully take into account the unique challenges facing the American auto industry and the taxpayer dollars that now support it. And let me be clear: Our goal is not to further burden an already struggling industry. It is to help America's automakers prepare for the future. This commitment must extend beyond the short-term assistance for businesses and workers. We must help them thrive by building the cars of tomorrow, and galvanizing a dynamic and viable industry for decades to come.
Finally, we will make it clear to the world that America is ready to lead. To protect our climate and our collective security, we must call together a truly global coalition. I've made it clear that we will act, but so too must the world. That's how we will deny leverage to dictators and dollars to terrorists. And that's how we will ensure that nations like China and India are doing their part, just as we are now willing to do ours.
It's time for America to lead, because this moment of peril must be turned into one of progress. If we take action, we can create new industries and revive old ones; we can open new factories and power new farms; we can lower costs and revive our economy. We can do that, and we must do that. There's much work to be done. There is much further for us to go.
But I want to be clear from the beginning of this administration that we have made our choice. America will not be held hostage to dwindling resources, hostile regimes, and a warming planet. We will not be put off from action because action is hard. Now is the time to make the tough choices. Now is the time to meet the challenge at this crossroad of history by choosing a future that is safer for our country, prosperous for our planet, and sustainable.
Those are my priorities, and they're reflected in the executive orders that I'm about to sign. Thank you so much for being here.
FACT SHEET: The Obama Administration’s Record on the Trade Enforcement
From day one, President Obama and his Administration have vigorously worked to build a far more capable trade enforcement system. The result has been a strong record of enforcement victories that are helping to level the playing field for American workers and businesses. The Administration has enlisted all relevant agencies and used all the tools at its disposal to identify, monitor, enforce, and resolve the full range of international trade issues, so that American workers, farmers, and businesses receive the benefits they are due under our trade and investment agreements and to prevent American jobs from being threatened by unfair trading practices.
- Aggressively Pursuing – and Winning – Cases at the World Trade Organization:Today, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is launching a new trade enforcement action against China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) targeting China’s unfair subsidies for its aluminum industry. This is the 25th WTO challenge of this Administration and the 16th against China alone. The United States has brought more WTO challenges over the last eight years than any other country. And we’ve won every single one of these challenges that has been decided.
- Levying Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duty Penalties on Foreign Industries and Trading Partners at the Highest Rate in 14 Years, Particularly Important to the Steel Industry: The Department of Commerce, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are enforcing 370 trade remedy orders that address dumped goods or unfairly subsidized imports and level the playing field for American workers and businesses.
- In each of the last two years, Commerce initiated the largest number of new investigations in 14 years. The Administration worked with Congress to secure new legislative authorities that provide a substantial upgrade in our government’s trade enforcement capabilities. Commerce has conducted investigations and made final determinations on important cases brought by the American steel industry, finding dumping margins as high as 620 percent on certain products from China.
- Pursuing Diplomatic Engagement to Uphold Labor Rights, Protect the Environment, and Ensure Intellectual Property Rights Are Enforced: The United States has undertaken initiatives with our free trade agreement partners to strengthen workers’ rights in Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burma, Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Panama, and others. We have pressed our trading partners to effectively implement environmental provisions in our free trade agreements to protect the environment and prevent illegal logging. Trade and Investment Framework Agreements between the United States and more than 50 trading partners and regions around the world have facilitated discussions on enhancing intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement. We also direct international initiatives to broaden awareness of IPR’s important role in addressing international concerns, such as counterfeit medicines and internet piracy, so countries will investigate and prosecute cases of IPR violations.
- Combating Excess Capacity in Industrial Sectors: The United States led an international coalition to bring together more than thirty countries – including both G-20 members and as well as major steel-producing countries that are not in the G-20 – to form a new Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity. The Global Forum, co-chaired by the United States, will address market distorting practices that negatively impact trade and the steel industry and workers around the world. Furthermore, we successfully secured significant new commitments from China, including a commitment that it will take further steps beyond its announced plans to progressively reduce its excess capacity, close loss-making “zombie enterprises,” and ensure that central government plans and policies do not target the net expansion of capacity in its steel industry.
- Building Stronger Enforcement Authorities and Coordination: President Obama worked with Congress to pass and sign into law two new pieces of legislation, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (also referred to as “Customs” legislation) and the American Trade Enforcement Effectiveness Act (also referred to as the “Level the Playing Field Act”), each of which strengthened our tools for ensuring that our trading partners and foreign industries are competing fairly and following our trade laws. With these new authorities, Commerce, CBP, and ICE have been able to apply consequences for recalcitrant importers that persist in violating our domestic trade laws, increase on-site verification of imports, and further investigate claims of evasions of import taxes.
USTR Enforcement Actions
Since the start of his Administration, President Obama has made enforcement of our trade rights a top priority. To that end, since 2009, the United States has filed 25 enforcement actions at the WTO, more than any other WTO Member over that period. And the United States has won every single one of those challenges decided thus far, including seven against China alone. Export figures confirm that these enforcement victories are worth billions of dollars for American farmers and ranchers manufacturers of high-tech steel, aircraft, and automobiles solar energy exporters cutting edge service providers and many others. To ensure the greatest economic benefits for American workers and exporters, the Administration continues to use our trade enforcement actions to emphasize opening large, strategic markets to which we can export a diverse array of Made-in-America products and services. Recent examples include:
- Indonesia agricultural import barriers victory: In December 2016, a WTO panel sided with the United States on all claims regarding Indonesia’s restrictive import barriers for horticultural products, animals, and animal products. The United States successfully challenged 18 Indonesian measures because they restricted or prohibited the importation of fruits, vegetables, and meat products. Elimination of these restrictions could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in increased U.S. agriculture exports to Indonesia every year.
- China administration of agricultural TRQs: In December 2016, USTR launched a WTO action against China targeting its administration of tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for rice, wheat, and corn. China’s TRQs permit set volumes of rice, wheat, and corn to enter China at a low duty rate. However, China’s administration of these TRQs is not transparent, predictable, or fair, and China’s TRQ administration restricts imports. This challenge will ensure China lives up to its WTO commitments to provide meaningful market access to U.S. grain exports.
- China discriminatory aircraft tax exemptions: In October 2016, USTR announced that the United States had confirmed China’s ending of discriminatory tax exemptions that had benefited certain aircraft produced in China. This announcement followed USTR’s December 2015 launch of a WTO action against these discriminatory measures that covered a wide range of domestically produced aircraft, including general aviation and regional and business jets. Through this action, the United States challenged China’s breaches of fundamental WTO rules of non-discrimination and transparency in this strategically important sector.
- India solar localization victory: In September 2016, the WTO Appellate Body agreed with a previous panel report finding that India’s “localization” rules discriminate against U.S. solar cells and modules by requiring use of Indian products. American solar exports to India dropped 90 percent after the prohibited requirements took effect, and this victory will eliminate discrimination against American solar exports in a roughly $1 billion market.
- European aircraft subsidies victory: In September 2016, a WTO compliance panel issued a report finding that the European Union, France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom continue to breach WTO rules through subsidies the WTO previously found to have caused adverse effects to the United States. The compliance panel also found that these European governments further breached WTO rules by granting more than $4 billion in new subsidized financing for the A350 XWB which was causing tens of billions of dollars in additional adverse effects to U.S. industry.
- China agricultural government support: In September 2016, USTR launched a new WTO enforcement action against China’s excessive support for farmers. In 2015, the level of support provided by China through its “market price support” programs for rice, wheat, and corn was nearly $100 billion in excess of China’s WTO commitments. By setting prices for rice, wheat, and corn well above market levels, China encourages overproduction by its farmers, disadvantaging U.S. farmers seeking export opportunities in China.
- China raw materials restrictions: In July 2016, USTR initiated a dispute at the WTO against China’s export duties and quotas on various forms of nine different raw materials. These raw materials are key inputs into a variety of Made-in-America products from a range of sectors, including aerospace, automotive, electronics, chemicals, and more.
- China demonstration bases agreement: In April 2016, following a challenge by the United States at the WTO, China agreed to dismantle its prohibited export subsidies under the “Demonstration Bases-Common Service Platform” program. The agreement represented a win for American workers employed in seven diverse export sectors, including agriculture, textiles, and medical products, who will benefit from a more level playing field on which to compete.
- China poultry compliance challenge: In May 2016, the United States challenged China at the WTO following China’s failure to bring its AD/CVD orders against imports of U.S. chicken broiler products into compliance with WTO rules. The United States challenged the Chinese-imposed duties on behalf of American poultry producers and the hundreds of thousands of people employed in the poultry industry. The United States remains firmly committed to ensuring that China lives up to its WTO obligations, and that American farmers and workers can compete and win on a level playing field in the global economy.
- China high-tech steel duties: In July 2015, the United States prevailed in a WTO challenge to China’s compliance actions following WTO findings in 2012 that China’s duties on high-tech steel were inconsistent with WTO rules. Those WTO-inconsistent duties contributed to over $250 million in annual export losses for American steel exporters. The U.S. compliance challenge was the first time any WTO member had initiated a WTO proceeding to challenge a claim by China that it had complied with adverse WTO findings. China terminated the illegal duties following the USTR challenge.
- India agricultural bans: In June 2015, the WTO sided with the United States in a dispute challenging India’s ban on U.S. agricultural products such as poultry meat, eggs, and live pigs, agreeing that India’s measures represented unscientific and discriminatory restrictions. The decision affirmed that countries’ avian influenza restrictions must be grounded in science, such as by taking into account the limited geographic impact from outbreaks, and not be simply a disguise for protectionism.
- Argentina import licensing restrictions: In January 2015, the United States won a trade enforcement victory against Argentina that involved its widespread restrictions on the importation of a range of U.S. goods. The restrictions by Argentina affected billions of dollars in U.S. exports, including energy products, electronics and machinery, aero-space and parts, pharmaceuticals, precious instruments and medical devices, miscellaneous chemicals, motor vehicles, vehicle parts, and agricultural products.
- China SUV / automobile duties: In June 2014, the WTO found that China breached WTO rules by imposing unjustified extra duties on American cars and sport utility vehicles. In 2013, an estimated $5.1 billion of U.S. auto exports were covered by those duties. China terminated the illegal duties following the USTR challenge.
Other Enforcement Actions. In addition to these successes at the WTO, we have taken a wide range of additional enforcement action to protect the environment, ensure the protection of intellectual property, and protect labor rights so that American workers compete on a level playing field.
- Peru timber verification: In February 2016, the United States made the first timber verification request under the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA). In August 2016, the United States issued a statement reviewing the overall findings of the government of Peru’s verification report and identified additional areas of progress for Peru. The request serves as an important assessment tool to help ensure that Peruvian forestry laws are enforced throughout the supply chain, and that timber imported into the United States is legally harvested and exported.
- South Africa agriculture export settlement: The United States and South Africa negotiated the removal of long-standing barriers to U.S. agricultural products entering South Africa. The removal of these unfair barriers ensured American poultry, pork, and beef farmers access to an important market, while providing South African consumers with an opportunity to buy and enjoy high-quality American agricultural products.
- Honduras IPR enforcement: In March 2016, the United States announced Honduras’ commitment to undertake a series of actions to strengthen the protection and enforcement of intellectual property in Honduras. The new commitment followed USTR’s Out-of-Cycle Review of intellectual property protection in Honduras under the Special 301 report, and will benefit American agriculture, creative industries, telecommunications, textiles and apparel, and other U.S. exports.
- Colombia labor steps: USTR and the Department of Labor worked with the government of Colombia on a Presidential Decree, issued in April 2016, to help inspectors investigate and apply potentially very significant fines to employers that use abusive forms of subcontracting to violate labor rights. With robust enforcement, this decree could have a significant impact on the ground for workers and address a main concern related to protection of workers’ rights in Colombia.
- NTE report: In March 2016, USTR released the National Trade Estimate on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE) report, which represents a key component in the Administration’s unprecedented trade enforcement efforts. The report serves as a guide to trade barriers being imposed across the globe, and the work President Obama has done to build a more capable enforcement system that utilizes resources from agencies across the government.
- Special 301 report: In April 2016, the Obama Administration unveiled its 2016 Special 301 Report, which provides an overview on the global state of intellectual property rights and enforcement, and lists the most significant challenges facing American intellectual property creators and holders.
Commerce AD/CVD Actions and Trade Agreements Compliance
Commerce, CBP, and ICE are currently enforcing 370 antidumping (AD) / countervailing duty (CVD) orders that address dumped goods or unfairly subsidized imports. Of these orders, 184 involve imports of steel and steel-related products, representing nearly half of all orders currently in effect. AD/CVD orders are an effective tool for providing relief to U.S. companies and workers injured by unfair trade practices and allowing American companies to compete on a fairer and more level playing field. This year, Commerce has conducted investigations and made final determinations on important cases brought by the American steel industry, including on cold-rolled, hot-rolled, and corrosion-resistant steel products, finding dumping margins as high as 620 percent on certain products from China. Following affirmative determinations of material injury by the U.S. International Trade Commission, Commerce puts into place AD/CVD orders. The results of these AD/CVD investigations and orders are already having a positive impact on American workers. Recent examples include:
- Non-Oriented Electrical Steel. In October 2014, Commerce issued final affirmative AD determination orders with regard to non-oriented electrical steel from China, Germany, Japan, Korea, Sweden, and Taiwan and final affirmative CVD determination orders with regard to non-oriented electrical steel from China and Taiwan. Final CVD rates are as high as 158 percent for imports from China and AD rates are as high as 407 percent for imports from China.
- Corrosion-Resistant Steel. In July 2016, Commerce issued AD and CVD orders on corrosion-resistant steel imports from China, India, Italy, and Korea, as well as an AD order on corrosion-resistant steel products from Taiwan. AD duties as high as 210 percent and CV duties as high as 241 percent were calculated for imports from China.
- Cold-Rolled Steel. In July 2016, Commerce issued AD and CVD orders on cold-rolled steel from China, as well as an AD order on cold-rolled steel from Japan. In September 2016, Commerce issued further AD and CVD orders on cold-rolled steel from Brazil, India, and South Korea, as well as an AD order on cold-rolled steel from the United Kingdom. Commerce imposed final AD duties as high as 265 percent for China and final CV duties as high as 265 percent for China.
- Hot-Rolled Steel. In October 2016, Commerce issued AD and CVD orders with regard to hot-rolled steel from Brazil and South Korea, and AD orders with regard to hot-rolled steel from Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. AD duties are as high as 33 percent for imports from the United Kingdom and final CV duties are as high as 57 percent for imports from Korea.
- Cut-To-Length Plate. In November 2016, Commerce issued final affirmative AD determinations with regard to cut-to-length plate from Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey. AD duties were as high as 94 percent for imports from South Africa. Commerce is in the process of conducting additional investigations with regard to cut-to-length plate. In September 2016, Commerce issued an affirmative preliminary CVD determination with regard to cut-to-length plate from China with preliminary CVD duties of 210 percent for all imports from China. In November 2016, Commerce issued preliminary affirmative AD determinations with regard to cut-to-length plate from Austria, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, with AD duties as high as 131 percent for imports from Italy. Commerce is scheduled to issue its pending final determinations by the end of March 2017.
Commerce also administers a variety of programs and has offices to monitor trade agreement operation, and identify and address foreign government non-compliance with trade agreement obligations. Commerce operates the Trade Agreements Compliance Program, which deals with non-tariff barriers that affect U.S. businesses operating abroad monitors foreign AD/CVD actions against U.S. firms, advocating on their behalf to preserve fair access to key markets and tracks and advocates against foreign government subsidy practices that distort trade and unbalance the playing field for U.S. companies. In 2016, Commerce successfully resolved more than 30 foreign non-tariff barrier trade compliance cases with a total combined value of more than $14 billion in exports safeguarded. Commerce’s advocacy efforts also helped bring about the successful termination of 26 foreign trade remedy proceedings in 2016, affecting approximately $373 million in U.S. exports.
Given the importance of these matters, Commerce is establishing an Advisory Council on Trade Enforcement and Compliance (ACTEC) to directly advise the Secretary of Commerce on laws and government policies that deal with trade enforcement identify and recommend programs, policies, and actions to help Commerce in its efforts to ensure that U.S. trading partners comply with their trade agreement commitments and recommend ways that Commerce’s trade enforcement and compliance policies and programs can better support a strong trade and manufacturing agenda and enhance the commercial competitiveness of the United States.
Stepping up U.S. Customs and Border Protection Efforts on Steel
CBP has worked alongside partners across the U.S. government to ensure that our trade laws are strictly enforced. CBP personnel work tirelessly at the 328 ports of entry and throughout the world to prevent shipments of unfairly traded goods from entering U.S. commerce, including steel that is being dumped on our markets or is unfairly subsidized and products that infringe upon U.S. intellectual property rights. In doing so, CBP defends the U.S. economy from unfair competition and the theft of American innovation and protects people who live and work in the United States from health and public safety risks posed by counterfeit goods. CBP continues to collaborate with stakeholders to ensure they have all the information they need to lawfully import and export their goods.
- CBP recently identified approximately $7 million in AD/CVD discrepancies on Chinese steel plate shipments, and raised continuous bond amounts for three steel importers.
- Additionally, CBP’s Operation Flatline recovered over $800,000 in AD/CVD duties on imports of corrosion-resistant, flat-rolled steel products from China.
- CBP’s Trade Enforcement Task Force has collected over $1.5 million in unpaid AD/CVD duties on steel imports.
- CBP has implemented a targeted approach to increase reviews of steel imports, which will provide a measure of the risk presented by steel imports, and identify targets for further enforcement.
- CBP is requiring “live entry” for certain high-risk steel imports, meaning that all entry documents and duties are required to be provided before cargo is released by CBP into U.S. commerce.
- CBP is partnering with the steel industry to deliver seminars for CBP, other U.S. government trade personnel (including Commerce and ICE), and customs brokers to provide participants with knowledge of industry operations and enhance understanding of how AD/CVD enforcement can best be implemented in the current trade environment. In Fiscal Year 2016, CBP and the U.S. steel industry conducted Steel Seminars in Laredo, Texas New Orleans, Louisiana Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Long Beach, California and most recently, in Detroit, Michigan. These seminars are scheduled to resume in early 2017 in Chicago, Illinois Houston, Texas Mobile, Alabama Newark, New Jersey and Seattle, Washington.
- CBP’s Base Metals Center of Excellence and Expertise for trade enforcement, which is specifically focused on the steel sector, is now fully operational, where CBP’s industry experts work together to focus on outreach, targeting, and enforcement of steel imports.
- CBP Laboratories and Scientific Services is directing funds to its network of laboratories, where CBP’s forensic and scientific arm uses state-of-the-art techniques to identify AD/CVD evasion.
Building International Pressure to Address Excess Capacity
We have made clear to our trading partners – in particular, China – that excess capacity in the steel, aluminum, and other industrial sectors is harmful to American manufacturers and an unsustainable drag on the global economy and that all major steel-producing nations must be committed to working together to eliminate policies that contribute to excess capacity, particularly in the steel industry.
Over two years, we have engaged through bilateral mechanisms such as the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) and the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) to press China to address industrial excess capacity. In February 2015, China publicly announced plans to reduce steelmaking capacity by 100 to 150 million metric tons over five years. At the S&ED meeting in June 2016, excess capacity was a key economic priority, and we successfully secured significant new commitments from China, including a commitment that it will take further steps beyond its announced plans to progressively reduce its excess capacity, close loss-making “zombie enterprises,” and ensure that central government plans and policies do not target the net expansion of capacity in its steel industry.
We have built a robust coalition of like-minded trading partners who share our concerns regarding excess capacity and are committed to addressing this issue. At the end of May 2016, G-7 Leaders committed to quickly take steps to address global excess capacity across industrial sectors, especially steel. And on June 29, 2016, North American Leaders announced broad customs cooperation to ensure robust trade enforcement at our borders, including increased information sharing on high-risk shipments.
On September 4-5, 2016, these steps contributed to President Obama’s successful efforts to secure a commitment from the Leaders of the G-20, which also represents the world’s largest steel producers, to establish a Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity. The Global Forum is designed to help lead to a reduction in global excess steel capacity and production through the identification of market-distorting policies that sustain excess capacity, actions to make net reductions in capacity, and monitoring and accountability mechanisms. In addition, at their summit meeting on September 5, 2016, President Obama and Chinese President Xi recognized that excess capacity was a global issue requiring collective responses, and committed to enhance cooperation and communication on the issue. In addition, China committed to take effective steps to address the challenges so as to enhance market function and encourage adjustments. China further committed to implement changes to its bankruptcy practice to facilitate market exit of failing firms and further improving its bankruptcy administrator systems to address excess capacity.
Consistent and concerted international engagement over 2016 yielded these milestones:
United States Challenges Canadian Trade Measures That Discriminate Against U.S. Wine
WASHINGTON, DC – United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced today that the Obama Administration has launched a new trade enforcement action against Canada at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Today’s action challenges British Columbia’s (BC) regulations that discriminate against the sale of U.S. wine in grocery stores. These regulations appear to breach Canada’s WTO commitments and have adversely impacted U.S. wine producers. Today’s action marks the 26 th trade enforcement challenge the Obama Administration has launched at the WTO. The United States has won every one of those complaints that has been decided so far.
The BC regulations being challenged by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) discriminate against U.S. and other imported wine by allowing only BC wine to be sold on regular grocery store shelves. These regulations exclude all imported wine from this new and growing retail channel for wine sales in BC. Such discriminatory measures limit sales opportunities for U.S. wine producers and provide a substantial competitive advantage for BC wine.
“American winemakers produce some of the highest-quality, most popular wines in the world. When U.S. wine producers have a fair shot at competing on a level playing field, they can compete and win in markets around the globe,” said Ambassador Froman. “The discriminatory regulations implemented by British Columbia intentionally undermine free and fair competition, and appear to breach Canada’s commitments as a WTO member. Canada and all Canadian provinces, including BC, must play by the rules. This Administration is continuing to fight to level the playing field for American producers and workers, so that we can continue to grow our economy and support quality jobs across the United States.”
"American winemakers have found increasing success in export markets like Canada," said Acting Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse. "However, we could be doing even better. In British Columbia the local wines get an unfair advantage because they can be sold on grocery store shelves, while U.S. wines cannot. The United States simply seeks equal opportunities to market our wines, consistent with Canada's international obligations."
The discriminatory BC regulations negatively affect U.S. winemakers by effectively denying them access to BC grocery store shelves, a new and growing retail channel.
Additional Background Information about Today’s Challenge
The United States is challenging BC regulations that were amended in April 2015 to permit the sale of wine in grocery stores. The amended regulations provide two options for grocery stores to sell wine. Under the “wine on shelf” option, a grocery store may sell wine anywhere within the grocery store, but only BC wine may be sold on grocery store shelves.
Imported wine may only be sold in grocery stores under a “store within a store” option. Under the “store within a store” option, wine sales must be conducted in a “wine store” that is physically separated from the grocery store, has controlled access, and separate cash registers from the grocery store’s cash registers. As a “store within a store”, a grocery store may sell both BC wine and imported wine.
Public reports indicate that a number of grocery stores are already selling BC wine on their shelves under the “wine on shelf” option. However, we are not aware of any grocery stores selling wine pursuant to the more costly “store within a store” option. BC’s regulations limit choices and raise costs for Canadian fine wine lovers.
Consultations are the first step in the WTO dispute settlement process. If the United States and Canada are not able to reach a mutually agreed solution through consultations, the United States may request that the WTO establish a dispute settlement panel to examine the matter.
U.S. Department of State
More information about Nigeria is available on the Nigeria Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
The United States established diplomatic relations with Nigeria in 1960, following Nigeria&rsquos independence from the United Kingdom. From 1966-1999 Nigeria experienced a series of military coups, excluding the short-lived second republic between 1979-1983. The 30-month long civil war, which ended in January 1970, resulted in 1-3 million casualties. Following the 1999 inauguration of a civilian president, the U.S.-Nigerian relationship began to improve, as did cooperation on foreign policy goals such as regional peacekeeping.
Nigeria is the largest economy and most populous country in Africa with an estimated population of more than 170 million and an estimated gross domestic product of 510 billion USD in 2013. Nigeria's economic growth has been largely fueled by oil revenues. Despite persistent structural weaknesses such as a deficient transportation infrastructure, the Nigerian economy grew briskly over the past decade. The growth rate slowed in 2014 and 2015, owing in large part to the fall in oil prices. The gains from economic growth have been uneven, as more than 60 percent of the population lives in poverty. During March and April of 2015, for the first time in the country&rsquos history, an opposition party won the presidency and control of the National Assembly in generally clean and transparent presidential, legislative, and state-level elections. Although the country conducted successful elections in 2015, it faces formidable challenges in consolidating democratic order, including terrorist activities, sectarian conflicts, and public mistrust of the government. Nigeria has yet to develop effective measures to address corruption, poverty, and ineffective social service systems, and mitigate the violence.
Since 2010, under the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission (BNC), a forum for focused, high-level discussions, the two countries have met regularly. These meetings have focused on key areas of mutual interest, including good governance, transparency, and integrity energy and investment regional security the Niger Delta and agriculture and food security. In July 2015, President Obama hosted President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria in the Oval Office to express U.S. commitment to strengthening and expanding our partnership with Nigeria&rsquos new government (https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/07/21/president-obama-s-meeting-nigerian-president-muhammadu-buhari). President Obama made clear that the United States is prepared to increase support for a holistic effort by the Government of Nigeria to counter Boko Haram one that protects human rights and brings together security and development tools to defeat Boko Haram and eliminate the factors that fuel extremism. President Obama and President Buhari also discussed what it will take to strengthen Nigeria&rsquos economy, including a comprehensive approach to tackling corruption and reforming Nigeria&rsquos energy sector. On March 30, 2016, the United States-Nigeria BNC met again in Washington, D.C. to advance our overall relationship and spur joint action on key issues. As outlined in the BNC Joint Communique, the three areas of focus were security cooperation, economic growth and development, and governance and democracy.
U.S. Assistance to Nigeria
The United States seeks to help improve the economic stability, security, and well-being of Nigerians by strengthening democratic institutions, improving transparency and accountability, and professionalizing security forces. U.S. assistance also aims to reinforce local and national systems build institutional capacity in the provision of health and education services and support improvements in agricultural productivity, job expansion in the rural sector, and increased supplies of clean energy. A partnership among the U.S., the United Kingdom, Nigeria, and international organizations to focus on improved governance, non-oil economic growth, and human development ensures closer coordination of donor activities, more effective support, and greater impact for ordinary citizens.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The United States is the largest foreign investor in Nigeria, with U.S. foreign direct investment concentrated largely in the petroleum/mining and wholesale trade sectors. U.S. exports to Nigeria include wheat, vehicles, machinery, oil, and plastic. Nigeria is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). U.S. imports from Nigeria include cocoa, rubber, returns, antiques, and food waste. The United States and Nigeria have signed a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement. In January 2016, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker visited Nigeria to kick-off a fact-finding mission with senior U.S. business executives who comprise President Obama&rsquos Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa. The Council&rsquos visit underscored the broad U.S. commitment by both government and the private sector to advance economic engagement with Nigeria. The BNC meeting of March 30, 2016 noted the U.S. and Nigerian Governments&rsquo pledge to work together to ensure maximum utilization of current programs to promote trade and investment, including AGOA and the bilateral trade and investment framework agreement.
Nigeria's Membership in International Organizations
Nigeria and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Nigeria also is an observer to the Organization of American States.
The position of U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria is currently vacant the Charge d&rsquoAffaires is Martin Brennan. Other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.
Nigeria maintains an embassy in the United States at 3519 International Place, NW, Washington, DC 20008, (tel: 202-986-8400).
More information about Nigeria is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
An image was shared on Facebook here that claimed “0 deaths, Public Health Emergency Declared” during the “2020 Coronavirus” under President Trump. It compared this to the Swine Flu outbreak in 2009, over which the post claimed “1,000 deaths, Public Health Emergency Declared” under President Obama.
A public health emergency for Swine Flu, also known as H1N1, was declared on April 26, 2009 by the Obama administration with no deaths in the U.S. (see here ). While Obama personally declared H1N1 an emergency in October 2009, when over a thousand had died (see here ), the “Secretary of Health and Human Services first declared a public health emergency” on April 26, 2009. Statements that say Obama and his administration waited until 1,000 had died before declaring an emergency often ignore this April 26, 2009 Government announcement (see it here ). The claim that there were 1,000 deaths when a public health emergency was declared under Obama’s administration was therefore false.
On January 27, 2020, a public health emergency was declared for the new coronavirus outbreak, or COVID-19, in the U.S. by the Trump administration by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (see here ). At this time, there were no deaths in the United States. The claim that there were no deaths when a public health emergency was declared under Trump’s administration was therefore true.
According to the CDC, from April 2009 to April 2010, the H1N1 outbreak resulted in 12,469 deaths in the U.S. (see here ). The 2020 coronavirus (COVID-19) had over 4,000 deaths around the world as of March 10, 2020. As of March 10, 2020, there have been 25 deaths in the U.S. (see here ). The first person to die from the coronavirus in the U.S. died in late February 2020 (see here ). Since then, deaths have been recorded in 36 states including the District of Columbia, as of March 10, 2020 (see here ).
The claim tallied deaths attributed to H1N1 and COVID-19 at the time of a public health emergency being declared respectively. Obama’s administration declared a public health emergency prior to any deaths, so the photograph’s claim was false Trump’s administration also declared a public health emergency prior to any deaths, correctly depicted in the photograph.
Obama's economic failures outweigh successes
After eight years in the White House, President Barack Obama&rsquos economic legacy shows some successes but these are largely overshadowed by failures.
Increased employment, stricter financial regulation following the Wall Street scandals that fueled the 2008 financial crisis and cleaner energy stand out as areas in which the 44th president succeeded.
Less illustrious have been his policies to boost growth, international trade deals and healthcare reform, while attempts to tackle tax reform, public debt and income inequality stand out as his administration&rsquos main economic failures.
When Obama was elected in November 2008, the U.S. was going through one of the biggest financial crises the world had seen. Financial institutions that had stood as bywords for American business, such as Lehmann Brothers, were bankrupt and hundreds and thousands of people out of work and homeless.
In his first year in office, the U.S. economy shrunk by 2.8 percent -- its worst annual performance since World War II.
The government initiated an $800 billion stimulus plan -- the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- to revive the economy and the Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark interest rate to 0 percent and launched a $600 billion asset purchasing program.
Expansionary fiscal and monetary policies helped the economy recover and grow an average of 1.5 percent between 2009 and 2016 but despite surviving recession such low levels of growth proved disappointing to most economic observers.
This led to Donald Trump&rsquos highly critical election campaign claim that the U.S. had experienced the &ldquoslowest growth since 1929&rdquo under Obama. He later added that Obama had been the &ldquofirst president in modern history not to have a single year of 3 percent growth.&rdquo
Some experts, however, have argued that the slow pace of growth was not a result of policy but more the impact of the financial crisis and weakness of the global economy.
Obama supporters have countered that job creation was the shining light of his presidency&rsquos economic achievements and point to 15.5 million new jobs created in the 80 months since February 2010. However, others say this private sector job creation came as public sector employment fell.
In mid-2009, the unemployment rate stood at 10.3 percent, its highest level in 26 years. This fell to below 5 percent earlier this year.
However, the administration, hampered by a Republican majority in Congress, failed to raise federal minimum wages as promised. It was not until February 2014 that Obama was able to raise government employees&rsquo wages through an executive order.
Despite steering the economy away from recession and adding new jobs, the country&rsquos economic gains were not distributed as evenly as Obama had pledged.
Last year, the U.S. had the worst income inequality in the world with a Gini coefficient -- the most common measure of inequality -- of 80.65, where 0 represents perfect equality and 100 means perfect inequality, according to Allianz&rsquos Global Wealth Report.
The average household income fell steadily between 2007 and 2014 -- a statistic largely blamed on the failure of Obama&rsquos middle-class-focused policies.
In the area of financial regulation, Obama imposed the Dodd-Frank Act to curtail risky Wall Street behavior and address irresponsible and overly risky practices in areas such as the highly complex derivatives market.
However, even this positive has been accused of having a negative impact on the economy and strangling growth.
&ldquoThe Dodd-Frank Act. imposed very restrictive regulation on the financial system,&rdquo Peter J. Wallison, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told Anadolu Agency.
Wallison said the act was &ldquolargely responsible for the historically slow growth of the U.S. economy in recovering from the financial crisis and the recession that followed&rdquo. In turn, these poor levels of growth caused a slump in the world economy.
However, the stock market has indicated benefits from Obama&rsquos time in office with the three main share indexes showing gradual increase over his presidency.
The Dow Jones stood at around 8,000 points at the time of Obama&rsquos January 2009 inauguration while the S&P 500 was at 840 points and the Nasdaq was at around 1,500 points. The indexes not only rose but reached record-high levels in recent days.
The Dow reached 19,000 points for the first time in history on Tuesday. The S&P climbed above the threshold of 2,200 points and the Nasdaq hit nearly 5,400 points.
Wallison, however, put the current high levels as the market&rsquos enthusiasm for Trump&rsquos pledges to repeal or reform Obama&rsquos programs.
One area where Obama fulfilled his promises was in increasing the volume of American exports.
U.S. exports fell 15 percent to $1.58 trillion in 2009 but managed to increase steadily in the following years, reaching $2.34 trillion in 2014, according to the Department of Commerce.
Among the bilateral trade deals signed by Obama were agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
However, grander schemes such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) signed this year by 12 Pacific Rim countries and the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations are regarded as failures.
Trump said Monday that he would take the U.S. out of the TPP in his first 100 days in office, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week that the TTIP talks were finished when Trump was elected.
&ldquoNothing the Obama administration did meaningfully influenced the terms of trade between the U.S. and the world,&rdquo Scott Miller, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said.
&ldquoTherefore, we missed out the growth that would have been available by improvement in terms of trade. That's a small part of the overall sluggishness of the U.S. economy during the president&rsquos tenure.&rdquo
Miller said Obama had embraced the principles of free trade but negotiations on the TTIP had failed to produce any meaningful agreements. &ldquoThere's not much of a legacy,&rdquo he told Anadolu Agency.
During his 2008 election campaign, Obama promised to improve the well-being of the middle class through tax reform. He also planned to tighten tax loopholes in American overseas territories and increase income tax for high-income individuals. The reforms were projected to increase public income by $210 billion.
Most of these plans ended in compromise or failure and his plan to create a $10 billion fund to help homeowners refinance or sell their homes also was not realized, despite creating a $800 billion stimulus package for the economy and major American financial corporations.
Similarly, a proposal to create automatic pension enrollment, create pension savings tax credit for those on low incomes and end income tax for seniors making less than $50,000 a year also failed.
Tax deductions for lower-income families and child credit reforms also had to be shelved.
With the Affordable Care Act -- more popularly known as Obamacare -- around 40 million Americans were given health insurance and the number of Americans without health insurance dropped from 15.7 percent to 9.2 percent during Obama&rsquos presidency, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The scheme was challenged relentlessly by Republicans on issues ranging from constitutional rights to costs. Criticism grew about Obamacare after the Department of Health and Human Services announced last month that some premiums would jump 25 percent next year. Since then, a significant number of insurance companies have left the Obamacare Marketplace.
However, Obamacare resulted in an anticipated $1.76 trillion rise in federal spending by 2025, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Trump has repeatedly promised that he would repeal Obamacare and replace it with "something wonderful."
Federal spending and government debt rose significantly during Obama&rsquos two terms.
Public debt went from $10.6 trillion to $19.9 trillion over the eight years, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
Federal spending jumped more than 10 percent during the period, most of which was a result of Medicare for senior citizens and Medicaid for low-income citizens.
Obama is expected to leave a government debt of $20 trillion to Trump at the end of January.
The energy sector has also seen a number of changes during Obama&rsquos presidency following his commitment to reduce dependency on foreign energy sources and increase the use of renewables.
Thanks to the shale revolution, domestic oil production nearly doubled from 5 million barrels per day in 2008 to 9.6 million bpd in mid-2015, according to the Energy Information Administration.
As American dependency on foreign oil producers fell by 50 percent during that period, Obama doubled the country&rsquos renewable energy capacity and increased the use of clean energy sources.
As oil production rose, his administration concentrated on the environment.
The controversial Keystone XL pipeline to carry Canadian crude south sat on Obama&rsquos desk for six years and despite congressional approval, it was vetoed by Obama three times.
The president also had a major role in initiating the Paris Climate Agreement signed by 193 countries last year to reduce carbon emissions. However, Trump has called climate change a "hoax," and has promised to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement.
Elected with high hopes in 2008, Obama managed to save the economy from recession, but his policies failed to create higher growth rates.
Tax reform and middle-class policies largely failed to make any positive impact. His health reforms, which were thought to revolutionize the American health insurance sector, left a massive public debt.
Although his election promises looked good, it was weak policy actions and Republican challenges in Congress which left most of his commitments incomplete or unrealized.
President Obama tried to establish new trade links with TPP and ongoing TTIP negotiations, but there is not much he can do when President-elect Donald Trump withdraws the U.S. from those.
&ldquoObamacare&rdquo is also very likely to be repealed under Trump, leaving Obama's healthcare legacy undone.
Nevertheless, he will be remembered as the president who managed to pull the U.S. economy out of one of the worst recessions the world has ever seen, and increased employment for his people.
It will, perhaps, take a decade to look back and revisit Obama's economic legacy and the things he tried to do for his country.
The General Motors Bankruptcy Plan
Details of the government&aposs involvement in, and approval of, GM&aposs bankruptcy plan, (formulated by Treasury Secretary Geithner, the Auto Worker&aposs Unions, (UAW), and technically, GM&aposs management), that were submitted to the Bankruptcy Court for approval were the determining factors deciding whether GM would be forced to liquidate, or allowed to file under Chapter 11 terms and emerge from the filings as a new company - to continue in business.
But in fact, it was a completely new process that the bankruptcy courts had never dealt with before - a government-subsidized reorganization plan that the court could only tinker with, and then rubber-stamp its approval.
The winners and losers of the Government&aposs plan for GM bankruptcy hearing
This is where the administration&aposs involvement is most clear.
- U.S. Government buys 60% share of the New GM company for $30.1 billion - giving GM the necessary "debtor in possession" funds reserve that the court required in order to consider a Chapter 11 filing
- The AWU&aposs, (Auto Worker&aposs Unions - UAW and others), received a 17% ownership stake in GM, (65% in Chrysler), in lieu of the money GM owed for union health and pension commitments. At the time this equated to about 40 cents on the dollar, but in reality stock shares could be sold at levels that would not only make the health and pension funds whole - but possibly generate a profit. *Note: Unions made an initial stock sale, (a portion of their shares), right after the IPO, at a rate that generated a $4 billion profit to the funds
- Private secured investors were given a settlement agreement at the rate of 29 cents on the dollar. *Note: these "private investors" also included investment funds composed of other union pension funds, like the Federated Teachers Association - which naturally screamed foul and went to court - where they failed to find relief.
- **It should be noted that established contract law required secured creditors be paid first, but President Obama&aposs administration simply ignored this legal requirement and gave the unsecured union creditors first position - leaving whatever might be left for the secured investors.
- Common-share stock holders were completely wiped out. When GM emerged from bankruptcy, all shares in the "old" GM were worthless since the "old" GM didn&apost exist anymore
- GM was allowed to retain a $45 billion business-loss tax credit, carried forth from the "old" GM to the "New" GM - a practice unheard of in bankruptcy proceedings, essentially adding a $45 billion "gift" to off-set tax liabilities of the new company.
- Delphi, a parts supplier network and GM spinoff, had all GM debt to it cancelled. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also decided to cut pensions liabilities for salaried non-union employees to expedite GM’s emergence from bankruptcy.
There are many more GM bankruptcy plan details of course, but these are the biggies, and as with the TARP bailout amounts, more information is readily available from other sources.
Trump boasts the economy reached historic heights during his first term. Here are 9 charts showing how it stacks up to the Obama and Bush presidencies.
The American economy is in shambles, the result of a pandemic which ended a decade-long stretch of growth and caused a historic wave of job losses earlier this year.
With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, voters are deciding which candidate they want to put it back together.
So far, the economy has regained just over half of the 22 million jobs lost from February to April. Both the Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump have made opposing cases to rebuild from the wreckage.
Biden argues the catastrophic public health response from the Trump administration deepened the economic downturn, setting the stage for a highly uneven recovery between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else. He's unveiled plans to smother the virus and get people safely back to work.
Meanwhile, Trump boasts the economy had reached historic heights before the pandemic, even though it was growing just slightly above the same rate as his immediate predecessors. The president contends he can restore that progress, promising lower taxes and deregulation without specifying further.
Still, experts say presidents wield only limited power on the economy's trajectory.
"It's true the president is probably the single most powerful person with the most influence over it," Aaron Sojourner, a former White House economist who served both the Obama and Trump administrations, told Business Insider. "But nobody has very much control over it."
Here are nine charts that illustrate the state of the economy going back two decades and how Trump stacks up compared to his two predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
The US and Iran progressing toward a new Iran Deal — so why is Netanyahu so restrained?
'Justice' but still ɺ long way to go': Reaction to Chauvin conviction
Here are some initial reactions to the verdict:
Biden, Harris deliver remarks on Derek Chauvin verdict, Obama reacted
Former President Barack Obama, the first and only black president in US history, also reacted to the guilty verdict in the case, releasing a joint statement along with his wife, Michelle.
Former US president Obama's grandmother, Sarah, dies at 99
"My family and I are mourning the loss of our beloved grandmother, Sarah Ogwel Onyango Obama, affectionately known to many as “Mama Sarah” but known to us as ni” or Granny" - Barack Obama.
US senators push for broader Iran deal, not return to nuclear pact
"Democrats and Republicans may have tactical differences, but we are united on preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon and addressing the wide range of Iranian behavior."
Smotrich is the 'Iron Dome' Netanyahu needs to stay in power - opinion
With our corona-weakened economy, it will be even harder for Israel to resist Biden’s forthcoming demands than it was to resist Obama’s past demands.
Donald Trump figurine in wax museum put away as visitors keep punching it
If wax figurines are damaged at this wax museum, they are usually sent to the factory for repairs. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, this was not an option with the Trump dummy.
Ex-Netanyahu adviser: We have to stop Iran’s race to the bomb
JPost One-on-One weekly 'Zoomcast': Lahav Harkov with former acting national security adviser Jacob Nagel - Episode 10
Former US presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton, Carter promote vaccine in new ad
"The science is clear. These vaccines will protect you and those you love from this dangerous and deadly disease," said President Bush in one of the PSAs with Obama and Clinton.
Sherman: Biden interested in rejoining Iran nuclear agreement
“We are in a very different place, the geopolitics are different” in 2021 than in 2015, Sherman said.
Sotomayor, Obama and Presidential Power
And the streak continues. If, as news reports indicate (and the formal announcement should come within a few minutes) Obama will nominate federal New York appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court, it will make it 17 of the last 20 nominees (by my unofficial count), dating back to Nixon’s administration, who were sitting federal appellate judges prior to being nominated to join the Supreme Court. (This includes unsuccessful nominees). In the end, despite expressing sympathy with Senator Leahy’s preference to choose a justice from outside the “judicial monastery”, Obama chose to play it safe. The key phrase is: “Administration officials say Sotomayor would bring more judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice confirmed in the past 70 years.” Not elected experience – not experience in how the executive branch, or Congress, or the federal bureaucracy works. She was selected – as has been the case with the last 10 justices in a row nominated for the highest court – for her judicial credentials. I will leave it to others with more expertise than I to judge the merits of Sotomayor’s selection, but I note that the decision almost certainly turned on more than her judicial expertise. It was also almost certainly influenced by Obama’s recognition of the symbolic aspect of his choice of, and the potential political payoffs that will accrue from appointing, an Hispanic woman.
For the record, here’s a list of all Supreme Court nominees dating back to FDR’s presidency. Note the shift away from practicing politicians toward federal appellate justices during the last three decades – I’ve put the practical politicians in bold. From this perspective, Sotomayor represents anything but change.
Positions Held by Supreme Court Nominees at the Time of Their Nominations, 1937-2009 (Adapted from data gathered by David Yalof).
William 0. Douglas
U.S. Supreme Court associate justice
Fred Vinson (C.I.)
Tom C. Clark
Earl Warren (C.I.)
Private practice, presidential adviser
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice
Homer Thornberry (withdrew)
Clement Haynsworth (rejected)
G. Harrold Carswell (rejected)
U.S. Supreme Court associate justice
Douglas Ginsburg (withdrew)
As for Sotomayor, from here the path toward almost certain confirmation goes as follows: the Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to hold hearings sometime this summer (this involves both written depositions and of course open hearings), which should lead to formal Senate approval before Congress adjourns for its summer recess in early August. So Sotomayor will likely take her seat in time for the start of the new Court session on October 5. (I talk briefly about the likely politics of the nomination process below).
What is of more interest to me, however, is what her selection reveals about the basis of presidential power. Political scientists, like baseball writers evaluating hitters, have devised numerous means of measuring a president’s influence in Congress. I will devote a separate post to discussing these, but in brief, they often center on the creation of legislative “box scores” designed to measure how many times a president’s preferred piece of legislation, or nominee to the executive branch or the courts, is approved by Congress. That is, how many pieces of legislation that the president supports actually pass Congress? How often do members of Congress vote with the president’s preferences? How often is a president’s policy position supported by roll call outcomes? These measures, however, are a misleading gauge of presidential power – they are a better indicator of congressional power. This is because how members of Congress vote on a nominee or legislative item is rarely influenced by anything a president does. Although journalists (and political scientists) often focus on the legislative “endgame” to gauge presidential influence – will the President swing enough votes to get his preferred legislation enacted? – this mistakes an outcome with actual evidence of presidential influence. Once we control for other factors – a member of Congress’ ideological and partisan leanings, the political leanings of her constituency, whether she’s up for reelection or not – we can usually predict how she will vote without needing to know much of anything about what the president wants. (I am ignoring the importance of a president’s veto power for the moment.)
Despite the much publicized and celebrated instances of presidential arm-twisting during the legislative endgame, then, most legislative outcomes don’t depend on presidential lobbying. But this is not to say that presidents lack influence. Instead, the primary means by which presidents influence what Congress does is through their ability to determine the alternatives from which Congress must choose. That is, presidential power is largely an exercise in agenda-setting – not arm-twisting. And we see this in the Sotomayer nomination. Barring a major scandal, she will almost certainly be confirmed to the Supreme Court whether Obama spends the confirmation hearings calling every Senator or instead spends the next few weeks ignoring the Senate debate in order to play Halo III on his Xbox. That is, how senators decide to vote on Sotomayor will have almost nothing to do with Obama’s lobbying from here on in (or lack thereof). His real influence has already occurred, in the decision to present Sotomayor as his nominee.
If we want to measure Obama’s “power”, then, we need to know what his real preference was and why he chose Sotomayor. My guess – and it is only a guess – is that after conferring with leading Democrats and Republicans, he recognized the overriding practical political advantages accruing from choosing an Hispanic woman, with left-leaning credentials. We cannot know if this would have been his ideal choice based on judicial philosophy alone, but presidents are never free to act on their ideal preferences. Politics is the art of the possible. Whether Sotomayer is his first choice or not, however, her nomination is a reminder that the power of the presidency often resides in the president’s ability to dictate the alternatives from which Congress (or in this case the Senate) must choose. Although Republicans will undoubtedly attack Sotomayor for her judicial “activism” (citing in particular her decisions regarding promotion and affirmative action), her comments regarding the importance of gender and ethnicity in influencing her decisions, and her views regarding whether appellate courts “make” policy, they run the risk of alienating Hispanic voters – an increasingly influential voting bloc (to the extent that one can view Hispanics as a voting bloc!) I find it very hard to believe she will not be easily confirmed. In structuring the alternative before the Senate in this manner, then, Obama reveals an important aspect of presidential power that cannot be measured through legislative boxscores.
Of perhaps greater significance – not one of you predicted Sotomayor’s nomination, and thus no one is the recipient of an “It’s the Fundamentals, Stupid!” T-Shirt. I am deeply, deeply disappointed in all of you. If it were in my power, those diplomas that were handed out in the pouring rain would be rescinded. What kind of an education did you pay for? I’m shocked…SHOCKED!
ADDENDUM: Conor Shaw did, in fact, predict the Sotomayer nomination, and for precisely the right reasons, in my view (although he did try to slip in a second choice as well!) My apologies to Conor for overlooking his victory. He has singlehandedly restored my faith in the efficacy of a Middlebury College education! Conor – send me your t-shirt size…