The Trade Pact and David Sirota's Misinformation Campaign

I have a simple standard for debate - whether the debate be on Iraq policy or trade policy. And that standard is that the debate be grounded in fact, not in fictional assumptions and assertions made by anyone, including David Sirota. David has been going apeshit on this trade deal, not on the substance, mind you, but he is gasping for straws because he has a problem with how the deal was reached. You know if it wasn't reached the way David thought it should be, it must be rotten! As I see it, David Sirota is either incredibly mistaken, or is trying to run a misinformation campaign. In his most recent diary, David lays out an array of claims, some of which are outright false, and the others are misleading. I intend to set the facts right, and let the debate go forward based on those facts. I remind everyone the old adage: Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but no one is entitled to their own set of facts.

David is still calling this agreement a "secret deal". Now, that's an invention all his own, given that the deal is not only available on MyDD, the full text is also now available on the House Ways and Means website, on the front page. Here's a link to the actual document on the Ways and Means website for those who want to just get to the text. At this point, to call it a "secret" is not just an inaccuracy, it's a willful ignorance of the facts.

Of course, David Sirota has artfully moved to now a line of "Oh the legislative details of the deal hasn't yet been released." But saying that without mentioning that the actual agreement is available in full on the Ways and Means site is part of a deliberate misinformation campaign, since I cannot believe that Sirots is just being careless or lacking intelligence, because I know he's not either.

David sites An AP report where the proponents of the deal think it could "pave the way for an extension or renewal of Bush's fast-track authority", yet fails to note that the Fortune, in a story quoted by CNN, has reported that Administration officials specifically failed to obtain a guarantee for that very extension during the negotiation of this deal. In Sirota's much touted NY Times piece where he claims that Charlie Rangel "now supports fast-track reauthorization", the actual language in the article is much weaker than that

This negotiating authority, known in Washington shorthand as fast track, has been vigorously opposed by Democrats, who say that they cannot imagine giving Mr. Bush open-ended negotiating authority.

But Mr. Rangel said he could imagine a limited extension of such negotiating authority if the Doha round talks looked as if they were shaping up to be a good deal for the United States.

So first, it's conditional on the Doha talks, and even then Mr. Rangel "could imagine a limited extension". That is a far cry from saying he "now supports" it.

What's funny is an LA Times article Sirota himself cites has the following:

[Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daley] stressed that the new policy does not mean senior Democrats intend to push for reauthorization of "fast track" trade negotiating authority, which would allow Bush to speed agreements through Congress without amendments, something Pelosi has opposed.

Then comes his big claim about how the "mounting opposition" to the "secret deal" (yeah, here's the link to the whole text of the "secret" deal again), has forced an uncertain future for the pacts with Colombia and South Korea. At least in the case of South Korea, this is untrue. The fact is that the South Korean pact is specifically singled out in the agreement to have this uncertain future:

The Korea FTA raises additional major issues that the Administration will have to address. In particular, the probleem of Korea's systematic barriers in the automotive, manufactured, agricultural and services markets will have to be addressed. A Bipartisan Congressional Proposal was provided to the Administration on March 1 to open Korea's automotive market. The Administration has suggested a proposal that would, like earlier efforts in 1995 and 1998, fail to open the Korean market.

By the way, all that took was reading the first page of the agreement. As for Colombia, every trade agreement now pending, including Columbia, will be subject to the standards in this agreement.

And of course, David keeps confusing the International Herald Tribune with the New York Times (an article that is not even credited to the Times by the Tribune), but I suppose at this point, it is only a minor infraction of his.

It is astonishing how David's posts are still focused on the process and side issues ("Oh no, it might possibly probably open the door for renewal of fast-track") that are also largely not grounded in fact, instead of the substance of the actual agreement. Tomorrow, I will post an analysis of the actual deal - that of course, will be from my perspective - so that we can debate the substance of the agreement for once. But I needed to do this today to set the facts right. I repeat, both David Sirota and myself are entitled to our opinions, but neither one of us is entitled to our own facts.



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