Thursday, December 18, 2008

Obama Picks Ron Kirk For Trade Rep

Attorney Ron Kirk was the first black mayor of Dallas. His favorite quote: “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” He likes the color blue.
USA Today: A Democratic official says President-elect Barack Obama intends to name Ron Kirk as the United States' trade representative.
Kirk is a former mayor of Dallas, and was the first black to hold that post.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because Obama has not made the selection public. He's expected to make the announcement in coming days.
Kirk's challenges:
Reuters: Obama is expected to make the announcement on Friday in Chicago, the source said.

Kirk, a partner at the Houston-based law firm of Vinson and Elkins, has acknowledged having talks with Obama's transition team about a job in the new administration.

Obama turned to Kirk, who is little known in Washington trade circles, after his first choice Rep. Xavier Becerra, a California Democrat and member of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, turned down the job.

"My concern is how much weight this position would have had, and I reached the conclusion that it would not be a top priority or even a second or third priority," Becerra told La Opinion, a Los Angeles Spanish-language newspaper, in an interview earlier this week.

Becerra's comment increased already strong U.S. business concerns that long-time trade priorities like finishing the Doha round of world trade talks would be put on the back burner while Obama and Congress focus on restoring U.S. economic health and other domestic concerns.

Obama has already indicated that winning approval of two pending free trade agreements with Colombia and South Korea will not be top agenda items.

Instead, one of Kirk's first challenges, if approved by the Senate, would be to make good on Obama's promise to add stronger labor and environmental provisions to the North American Free Trade Agreement, a pact often blamed by labor groups for moving U.S. jobs to Mexico.