From Our Future
President-"elect" Donald Trump today announced his nomination of Robert Lighthizer for the cabinet-level office of US Trade Representative (USTR). Lighthizer, who served as deputy USTR under President Ronald Reagan, is known for criticizing Republican "free trade" ideology. Before serving in the Reagan administration he was chief of staff for the Senate Finance Committee.
Lightizer's nomination signals that Trump is likely to oppose the wide-open "free trade" ideology and policy that ruled the last several decades, enriching the Wall-Street "investor" class while wiping out US-based industries like textiles and electronics manufacturing, devastating entire regions and communities like the "Rust Belt" and Detroit, as well as much of the American middle class.
But Lightzinger and Trump's public positions are at odds with most of Trump's nominees to other positions, most Republicans in Congress and with the billionaires, "investors" and giant corporations that usually line up behind and fund the Republican party. How will Trump handle the expected opposition from these elements of the Republican coalition? If Trump would give a press conference perhaps we could know more.
Meanwhile, according to Fox News, Trump said,
"'Ambassador Lighthizer is going to do an outstanding job representing the United States as we fight for good trade deals that put the American worker first,' Trump said Tuesday in a statement announcing his pick. 'He has extensive experience striking agreements that protect some of the most important sectors of our economy, and has repeatedly fought in the private sector to prevent bad deals from hurting Americans. He will do an amazing job helping turn around the failed trade policies which have robbed so many Americans of prosperity.'"
Reuters reports that Lightizer has been fighting China's unfair trade practices,
"Lighthizer has argued that China has failed to live up to commitments made in 2001 when it joined the World Trade Organization and that tougher tactics are needed to change the system, even if it means deviating from World Trade Organization rules.
"'Years of passivity and drift among U.S. policymakers have allowed the U.S.-China trade deficit to grow to the point where it is widely recognized as a major threat to our economy,' Lighthizer wrote in 2010 congressional testimony.
"'Going forward, U.S. policymakers should take these problems more seriously, and should take a much more aggressive approach in dealing with China,' he wrote."
Lori Wallach Statement
Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, issued a statement on the expected nomination, and noted that it contrasts with most of Trump's appointments so far, who have been public supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that Trump campaigned against...
"Lighthizer is very knowledgeable about both technical trade policy and the ways of Washington, but what sets him aside among high-level Republican trade experts is that for decades his views have been shaped by the pragmatic outcomes of trade agreements and policies rather than fealty to any particular ideology or theory. I don't know that he would agree with progressive critics of our status quo trade policies about alternative approaches, but he also has had quite a different perspective on trade policy than the Republican congressional leaders and most of Trump's other cabinet nominees who have supported the TPP and every past trade deal."
Public Citizen's press release continued,
"President-elect Donald Trump has filled many top administration posts with proponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a pact that Trump railed against during his campaign. Trump appointees who publicly advocated for the TPP include Wilbur Ross (Secretary of Commerce), Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerman (Secretary of State), Gov. Terry Branstad (Ambassador to China), Gen. James Mattis (Secretary of Defense) and Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn (Director of National Economic Council) -- not to mention Vice-President-elect Mike Pence.
"'Thankfully there was never a congressional majority for the TPP in the 10 months after it was signed so the TPP was dead before the election,' said Wallach. 'But even so, most of Trump's cabinet members will be inclined to grab the shovel from Trump's hands before he can bury the TPP's moldering corpse by formally withdrawing the U.S. as a signatory.'