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Intelligence Briefing - Nov. 18,2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
AFF Sentinel Vol.6#34
Copenhagen, South Korea & Health Care

Colorado Springs, CO Nov. 18, 2009

Sometimes things move faster on multiple fronts than we can generate full-blown background or actions columns for you. This is an AFF Intelligence Briefing to alert you regarding several developments in the last few days. We also have some new delivery methods in the works for AFF contributors and readers.

Good news and hanging swords have figured in the news already this week.

First, the December Copenhagen climate change summit, touted as the follow-up to the Kyoto Treaty, finally "solving" the climate change "crisis" and binding all major countries, has been downgraded to a stepping stone. Secondly, President Obama revealed to Major Garrett (Fox News, 11/18/09) in an interview prior to Wednesday's meetings with South Korean leaders, that he now favors the South Korean Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that has been languishing in the Senate since June 2007. Thirdly, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is set Wednesday to reveal the version of the health care bill he has crafted to Senate Democrats, along with the first Congressional Budget Office numbers.

The growing stream of news stories casting doubt on man's effect on global climate change plus dawning understanding of the tremendous costs in dollars spent and freedoms lost, has cooled enthusiasm for a Copenhagen accord. Leaks from a draft agreement which called for a type of world government structure and a tax on global financial transactions also confirmed that this climate change gambit was more about global control than climate.

The U.S. Congress has no legislation ready for the summit and major economic players like China and India, "will never be masochistic enough to subject their economies to the West's climate neuroses" (Wall Street Journal, 11/17/09). So the leaders spun this as a political delay.

Garrett reported that the biggest economic issue to South Korea is the FTA. Candidate Obama had been critical of that deal. But in a one-on-one with Garrett, the President discussed boosting economic growth and creating jobs, including exports and free trade. Garrett then asked directly about the FTA, which the U.S. Trade Representative projects could create $10-12 billion in U.S. exports annually.

"We will be discussing this with South Korea," Obama said. "I want to get the deal done." The question is whether we can get it done at the beginning of 2010 or at the end of 2010, he added. "There are still some details that need to be worked out. Overall, it's a potential great deal for U.S. exporters but there are certain sections of the economy that aren't dealt with as effectively and that's something I'm going to be talking to President Lee about."

Garrett noted that Obama referred to time windows early in the year or late - meaning no vote mid-year right before the elections. There are still many Democrats in Congress who oppose the deal.

We would add that the labor unions, environmental activists and left-leaning free trade opponents will be dismayed by the President's shift. But searching for things that will generate economic growth and jobs, Obama might actually persuade Congress to pass the FTA. However, those "details" he mentions probably refer to labor and environmental provisions those groups want in trade agreements that are stricter and more dictatorial to our trading partners than past agreements. They could become stumbling blocks.

Reid has said he is cautiously optimistic he can get the votes for his version of the health care bill. But Karl Rove is just one who notes the math difficulty. He pointed out that Harry needs 60 votes to approve bringing the bill up for floor debate and then 60 votes after debate to move the bill up for a vote (Fox News, 11/18/09). He is likely to get the 60 he needs to bring the bill up for debate but then the going gets more difficult. Three Democrats and an independent are obvious problems for Reid: Senators Ben Nelson, Nebraska; Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas (new Ag Committee chairwoman); Mary Landrieu, Louisiana and Joe Lieberman, Connecticut, Rove said. However, others could become problems for Reid, depending on what measures are taken to get other votes.

This thing is so big and so contentious and there are so many different things in it, that even among Democrats - the two key committee chairmen - there are divergent views of the same subjects, Rove said.

He expects a "long and contentious debate," which gives citizens and taxpayers time to continue to pressure senators regarding their views of the bill. Any senator with rural constituents concerned about the availability of health care, doctors and facilities should be worried. And "conventional wisdom," transferred to the power of government boards and bureaucrats, that it is not lack of exercise or total caloric consumption or genetics or stress but meat consumption that is the cause of obesity should alone be frightening enough to rural senators to oppose this massive power grab.


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