"Nearly 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy advanced a new trade policy that cemented Democrats as the party of free and fair trade. Today, we build on that tradition to announce a new bipartisan breakthrough for fair trade – where we expand opportunities for American businesses, workers and farmers.
Our economic future rests upon our ability to open new markets for U.S. goods and services so that we can continue to capitalize upon the innovative spirit of the American people. We must also do much more to address the consequences of globalization and how many working families are faced with increased economic insecurity.
Free trade must be fair trade. For that reason, the inclusion of basic, internationally recognized labor and environmental standards in our trade agreements have been long-standing Democratic priority.
Enforceable labor standards ensure that our trading partners abide by the most fundamental standards of common decency and fairness – prohibitions against child and slave labor, protection from employment discrimination, and the right for workers to form a union.
Similarly, protecting our planet is a core Democratic value and must be reflected in the core of our free trade agreements, not as a side agreement.
Last November, Americans voted for a New Direction, and that includes a right direction on trade – where labor and environmental standards are at least as valued as our financial interests.
Today marks a new day in trade policy so that we can raise living standards in the U.S. and abroad, expand markets, spur economic growth and uphold strong labor and environmental standards.”
On Iraq, Congress continues to act responsibly, challenging the Administration to offer more than more of the same. While the bill passed last night may not become law, our country is now in the midst of a large and important debate about an issue of vital national interest, ensuring that whatever the final outcome the process for getting there will be more of the kind imagined by our founders than the "don't worry be happy" approach of the Bush years.
In a powerful editorial this morning, the Times sums up the events of recent weeks:
The difference between mainstream hawks and mainstream doves on Iraq seems to have boiled down to two months, with House Democrats now demanding visible progress by July while moderate Republicans are willing to give White House policies until September, but no longer, to show results.
Then there is President Bush, who has yet to acknowledge the reality that Congressional Republicans and even administration officials like Defense Secretary Robert Gates now seem to tacitly accept. Three months into Mr. Bush’s troop escalation, there is no real security in Baghdad and no measurable progress toward reconciliation, while American public support for this folly has all but run out.
The really important question now facing Washington is the one Mr. Bush still refuses to address: how, while there is still some time left, to design an exit strategy that contains the chaos in Iraq and minimizes the damage to United States interests when American troops inevitably leave...
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is going on offense in an attempt to prove that the U.S. is open to foreign investment. Citing the Dubai Ports World deal as an example of skepticism surrounding the issue, Paulson is reaching out. Today he spoke at a panel on the importance of attracting foreign investment capital, and is scheduled to head to St. Louis tomorrow to meet with foreign-owned firms.
Adding his weight to the issue, the President released a statement encouraging foreign direct investment in the U.S. today. The first from a president in 15 years (the last was issued by George H.W. Bush), it cites foreign investment as key to creating jobs, stimulating growth and boosting productivity in the U.S. Two interesting paragraphs from the statement:
A free and open international investment regime is vital for a stable and growing economy, both here at home and throughout the world. The threat of global terrorism and other national security challenges have caused the United States and other countries to focus more intently on the national security dimensions of foreign investment. While my Administration will continue to take every necessary step to protect national security, my Administration recognizes that our prosperity and security are founded on our country's openness.
My Administration is also committed to advancing free and fair trade in multilateral, regional, and bilateral negotiations. We will work aggressively to conclude the World Trade Organization's Doha Development Agenda negotiations and to secure congressional approval of the free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, Peru, and South Korea. The prospects for the Doha Development Agenda negotiations to produce significant new economic opportunities, particularly in developing countries, demand that we do everything possible to reach an outcome that creates new trade flows and strengthens global development.
Governor Brad Henry of Oklahoma signed an immigration bill this week that tightens employment standards to prevent illegal immigrants from finding work. On his state's action the Governor said, "States can take some actions on their own, but until the U.S. Congress enacts a comprehensive, national immigration policy, citizens will see little progress on this issue."
The measure requires state and local agencies to verify the citizenship and immigration status of applicants for state or local benefits.
It also requires public agencies starting Nov. 1 to use a program to screen Social Security numbers to make sure they are real and match up with the job applicant's name. Private companies must comply by July 1, 2008.
The measure would not affect emergency medical and humanitarian services, such as visits to hospital emergency rooms and enrollment in public schools, that are required by federal law.
"It's going to take us back," said Ray Madrid, state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens. "I'm sure there's going to be neighbors turning neighbors in.
Things like this inspire us to work so hard to pass humane, comprehensive immigration reform.
- Here's a quick look at the financial disclosures of presidential candidates and their campaigns. Specifically, the piece looks at which candidates have disclosed their tax returns and which campaigns disclosed their bundlers (supporters who raise a lot of money and bundle it together).
- Warren Buffett discussed ways in which he'd support Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in a recent interview:
“If there’s anything I can do to help either of these people become president, I’d be delighted to do it, and I think I’d be doing something for the country. They’re out there 14 hours a day under very unpleasant circumstances. If they want me to help them raise money, I’d do it. If they ask for advice, I’d be glad to give it,” he said, adding that he expects to provide the most help in the candidates’ fund-raising efforts.
Here's video of Buffett's comments (about 5 minutes into the interview):
For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.
As part of its Impact channel, MySpace is hosting "Presidential Town Hall" meetings on college campuses across the nation from September through December. 12 candidates (7 Republicans and 5 Democrats) will participate in the meetings, answering questions from MySpace users who submit their questions over IM. From the article in the Wall Street Journal:
The town hall meetings are part of a plan to get the "MySpace generation" engaged in the political process, says site co-founder Chris DeWolfe. MySpace, like video Web site YouTube.com, is proving to be a lively campaign stop for candidates, especially as they court the youth vote. If roused, the group could become a potent force in elections. Mr. DeWolfe says that 85% of MySpace users world-wide are old enough to vote.
For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.
The critical debate over how to best fix our broken immigration system entered an important new phase yesterday. At a press conference in the Capitol, a group of Senate Democrats, led by the courageous Harry Reid, did just what the President asked for in his State of the Union address - they introduced comprehensive immigration reform legislation. The bill that was introduced is the same bill that passed the Senate last year with 62 votes, including 23 Republicans. Known as Hagel-Martinez, the bill is based on the McCain-Kennedy legislation.
This smart bill, which goes a long way to solving this vexing national problem, had the support of leading Republicans - President Bush, National GOP Chairman Mel Martinez, and leading Senators John McCain, Mitch McConnell, and Chuck Hagel. The coalition supporting this bill includes the Chamber of Commerce, leading labor unions, the Catholic Church and elements of important Protestant dominations, and many of the nation's leading immigrant rights groups. It is a good bill, one that received broad bi-partisan support, and was able to muster a deep and broad coalition behind it.
By offering a bill that received so much Republican support last year, Senator Reid is showing that he wants to work with the Republicans to get this done. Next week the Senate will debate this bill. Our hope is that Republican leaders, including the President, will join Senator Reid and work to pass a bill that will go a long way to solving our nation's broken immigration system.
As we have been for the last two years, NDN will be working hard in these critical days to keep the bi-partisan momentum on immigration reform going. Our community has spent millions of dollars and contributed an amazing amount of time to this battle. It now enters a critical phase, and I hope all of you will join us in encouraging your Senators to stand with Senator Reid in solving this important 21st century challenge.
VoteVets.org launched the first of its three-ad series challenging President Bush on Iraq. From Vote Vets:
Our ads are airing in states and districts of those Members of Congress who are very close to breaking with the President on Iraq, and joining the troops and American people. They are: Senators Susan Collins, John Sununu, John Warner, and Norm Coleman, and Representatives Mary Bono, Phil English, Randy Kuhl, Jim Walsh, Heather Wilson, Jo Ann Emerson, Tim Johnson, Mike Rogers, Fred Upton, and Mike Castle. Mentioning them by name at the end, the local spots will call on them to "Protect America, Not George Bush."
Next week, we’ll launch another ad with retired Major General Paul Eaton. And, after that, the campaign will wrap up with a powerful ad from former NATO Allied Supreme Commander, General Wesley Clark.
The first ad is strong and features Major General John Batiste, who calls the President out for not listening to Commanders on the ground. Check it out below:
With bipartisan talks on immigration near a standstill, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) moved yesterday to bring last year's broad overhaul of immigration laws back to the floor of the Senate next week, appealing to President Bush to save what could be his last hope for a major second-term domestic achievement.
The legislation -- which couples a border security crackdown with a guest-worker program and new avenues for undocumented immigrants to work legally in the country -- passed the Senate a year ago this month with the support of 62 members, 23 of them Republican, only to die in the House. With Democrats now in control of Congress and with the president eager for an accomplishment, immigrant rights groups believe the prospects for a final deal are far better this year.
But Senate Republicans, even those who helped craft last year's bill, say the political environment has shifted decisively against that measure and toward a tougher approach. Four Republican architects of the 2006 bill released a letter yesterday, pleading with Reid to hold off on the debate while bipartisan talks continue on new legislation.
"Last year's bill is not the solution for this year," said Sen. Mel Martinez (Fla.), one of those architects who is now general chairman of the Republican Party.
But Reid decided to force the issue, devoting the Senate's next two weeks to hammering out a comprehensive bill. If negotiators reach a deal on a new proposal in the coming days, he promised to bring it to a vote. "There are all kinds of excuses people could offer," Reid said. "But how can we have anything that's more fair than taking a bill that overwhelmingly passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis, and using that as the instrument" to build a new version?.....