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Karin Henriksson

Karin Henriksson

WASHINGTON Få sammanslutningar kan mäta sig med den amerikanska senaten när det gäller regler och intriger.

Efter den interna revolten mot Barack Obamas frihandelspolitik i det demokratiska blocket i veckan blev det plötsligt nya turer. Några delfrågor lyftes ut så att man kunde rösta om att gå till debatt om det som kallas ”fast track” och skulle – om det går igenom – ge Obama fria händer i förhandlingarna om jätteavtalen TPP och TTIP (bakgrund och fakta i min artikel i svd.se).

Men motståndarna i det egna partiet har inte gett upp och varslar om att de tänker bromsa så mycket de kan. Och i representanthuset jäser motstånd dessutom bland republikanerna och just nu fastslås att det inte finns tillräckligt många röster.

Barack Obama tog till orda om det hela på en presskonferens sent på torsdagen och hans huvudargument mot kritikerna går ut på att status quo inte är bättre – och att Kina och andra länder istället skulle få möjlighet att knipa åt sig initiativet.

Han gav sig in i ett djupt resonemang om sina åsikter och sitt förhållande till vänsterblocket. Och han kallade ”Elizabeth” för ”Elizabeth”, inte ”senator Warren”, trots att han fick höra häromdagen att det är sexistiskt att bara använda förnamnet.

Hursomhelst – och håll i hatten, höll jag på att säga – så kopierar jag in vad han sa om vänstern, om amerikansk arbetskraft, om Nike och om behovet av infrastruktursatsningar m.m.:

“Those who didn’t vote for it, I want to keep on trying to make the case and provide them the information they need to feel confident that despite the fact that there have been very genuine problems with some trade deals in the past, the approach that we’re taking here I think is the right one – not just for big U.S. businesses, but also for small U.S. businesses and medium-sized U.S. businesses, and most importantly, ultimately, American workers.

I would not be promoting any agreement that I didn’t think at the end of the day was going to be creating jobs in the United States and giving us more of an opportunity to create ladders of success, higher incomes and higher wages for the American people, because that’s my primary focus.  It has been since I came into office.

The issue with respect to myself and Elizabeth has never been personal.  I think it’s fun for the press to see if we can poke around at it when you see two close allies who have a disagreement on a policy issue.  But there are a whole bunch of  – some of my best friends in the Senate, as well as in the House, some of my earliest supporters who disagree with me on this.  And I understand.  Because, like me, they came up through the ranks watching plants close, jobs being shipped overseas.  Like me, they have concerns about whether labor agreements or environmental agreements with other countries are properly enforced.  Like me, they have concerns about whether, in fact, trade ends up being fair and not just free.

And, like me, they have a deep concern about some of the global trends that we’ve seen and trends that we’ve seen in our own country in terms of increased inequality and what appears to be the effects of automation and globalization in allowing folks at the very top to do really, really well, but creating stagnation in terms of incomes and wages for middle-class families and folks working to get their way into the middle class.

So these are folks whose values are completely aligned with mine.  I notice that there was sort of a progressive statement of principles about what it means to be a progressive by some of these friends of mine, and I noted that it was basically my agenda – except for trade.  That was the one area where there was a significant difference.  And this just comes down to a policy difference and analysis in terms of what we think is best for our people, our constituents.

It is my firm belief that, despite the problems of previous trade deals, that we are better off writing high-standard rules with strong, enforceable provisions on things like child labor, or deforestation, or environmental degradation, or wildlife trafficking, or intellectual property – we are better off writing those rules for what is going to be the largest, fastest-growing market in the world.  And if we don’t, China will, and other countries will.  And our businesses will be disadvantaged and our workers will ultimately suffer.

And in terms of some of the fears of outsourcing of jobs, it is my belief, based on the analysis, that at this point, if there was a company in the United States that was looking for low-cost labor, they have no problem outsourcing it under the current regime.  And so what we do have the opportunity to do is to attract back companies to manufacture here in the United States.

And we’re seeing some of that happen.  That’s why I went out to Nike.  I understand that Nike has been manufacturing shoes with low-cost labor in many of these areas in the Asia Pacific region and that hurt the American footwear industry in terms of jobs here in the United States.  But that happened over the course of the last 30 years.  And now, for Nike to announce that because of new technologies, they’re potentially bringing 10,000 jobs back here because we’ve gone up the value chain, we’re manufacturing in different ways — that’s an opportunity.  But we’ve still got to be able to sell over there to take full advantage of those opportunities.

Which is why my argument with my progressive friends is what we really need to be focusing on to meet the same objectives – the shared objectives – is the kinds of other issues that we all agree on:  strong minimum wage; strong job training programs; infrastructure investments that put people back to work; stronger laws to protect collective bargaining and the capability of workers to have a voice; strong enforcement of rules around things like overtime pay; making sure that we have paid sick leave; making sure that we have a honest conversation about our budgets and that we’re not slashing investments in the future simply to make sure that we’re preserving loopholes for corporations that don’t provide any economic benefit.

Those are the things that are going to help us address the very problems that they’re concerned about.  Blocking a trade deal will not – particularly since they’re the first ones to acknowledge that the existing trade rules are a bad deal for U.S. workers.  If they’re not working for us now, how does hanging on to what’s going on now help American workers?  It doesn’t make sense.

I’m all for enforcement and the provisions that were signed. I have expressed concerns about how the currency language that is in the bill is drafted. But I have to talk to Senator Schumer and Sherrod Brown and others about how we can work on language that does not end up having a blowback effect on our ability to maintain our own monetary policy.”

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Hillary Clinton tiger i frihandelsdebatten.

Om bloggen

Karin Henriksson är SvD:s korrespondent i Washington sedan 1992.

Dessförinnan arbetade hon på många olika redaktioner i Stockholm samt i Bryssel och frilansade från USA åren 1987-92.
Det bästa med USA-jobbet är variationen, tycker Karin, med allt från stora världsnyheter till små kulturhändelser. Den som är intresserad av samhälle och politik kan inte önska sig något bättre än att bo i supermaktens huvudstad.


Utöver jobbet ägnar sig Karin åt litteratur, film, matlagning och uppskattar särskilt mångfalden och den vidunderliga naturen i USA.

Karin Henriksson har skrivit fyra böcker:
Jag kan inte sova (2007)
USA - så funkar det (2008)
En droppe svart blod (2013)
Reagan - En kontroversiell ikon (2015)

Bloggen handlar om presidentvalet, om debatten, om sakfrågorna, om väljarna och om knäppa saker som ständigt poppar upp i amerikansk politik.