Xavier Becerra: new U.S. Trade Representative? (meets Obama in Chicago) update: declines the offer
Posted Thu, Dec 4, 2008 at 4:06 pm
Andrea Mitchell says that Representative Xavier Becerra - Democrat representing Los Angeles - is in Chicago to meet with Barack Obama over the possibility of become U.S. Trade Representative:
Becerra voted for NAFTA in 1993, a vote he later said he regretted because of the lack of labor protections.Meanwhile, the identity politics side of things is supplied by Al Kamen of the Washington Post (link):
He also supported China's World Trade Organization membership in 2000, and last year he pushed for passage of the trade deal with Peru, after labor protections were added.
In the past, he also has opposed trade deals -- like the Central American Free Trade Pact.
There was some consideration given to announcing Becerra, a leading Hispanic lawmaker, for the job yesterday along with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D), who's also Hispanic, but the Becerra pick was not settled. Sources yesterday said they understood that the transition was looking to bring as many as three Latinos into cabinet-level or senior positions in the administration.UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times offers "Becerra's a bad choice for trade post" (link). Apparently they're afraid that Becerra would cost their friends money. They're also unaware of their history:
Former two-term Washington governor Gary Locke, a Chinese-American, has also been under consideration for the job.
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) could become the administration's point person on international trade. He's a terrible choice, and not just because of a history of unsavory behavior -- such as his successful efforts to win a pardon from President Clinton for convicted cocaine kingpin Carlos Vignali, or the screamingly unethical robo-calls his campaign engineered during his run for Los Angeles mayor in 2001. Becerra is a leader of the Democratic Party's protectionist wing, which opposes NAFTA, the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement and most other trade deals.The LAT has a history of "protecting" Antonio Villaraigosa, someone who also wrote a letter in support of pardoning Vignali, an issue that played a part in both his races for mayor; see, for instance, this. UPDATE: Becerra has declined the offer. From this:
The highest-profile candidate to decline a job offer from President-elect Barack Obama, the Los Angeles Democrat said he thinks he can have more influence as a ranking member of Congress than as the lead advisor on trade agreements... "I don't see how it can be the front-burner issue for him, nor should it be, quite honestly," Becerra said in an interview with Los Angeles public radio. "Clearly the priority for this president, and I think he said it very well, will be economic recovery and jobs."The Vignali issue also apparently caused a "complication".