Friday, July 27, 2018

A Post Wherein I Offer Billie Sutton Some Unsolicited Advice

I used to tell my young policy debaters to be sure they got their opponents' sources and numbers. It was a central part of understanding an opponents case or disadvantage.

Billie Sutton doesn't need my assistance, but I offer him the same advice if he and Kristi Noem debate next fall.

Over the past few days Noem has hailed the  the trade agreement that Trump announced with the EU. Noem calls Trump "best negotiator we have" and asserts "[h]e's doing an incredible job fighting for our farmers." She claims that the Rose Garden announcement was "wonderful" and that the President will "continue to negotiate" to open more markets.

Let's start with a simple question that seems to have not been asked: when it comes to soybeans how much more will the European Union buy than it would have purchased before the tariff silliness began? Has anyone given a number in bushels or tons or a percentage increase? Heralding a trade deal with no numbers seems akin to celebrating the purchase of pig in a poke.

Sutton should also ask about other crops. The American negotiators claim that all agricultural trade is on the table in the future.

“It’s more than soybeans. All agricultural products are something that will be discussed [in the trade talks with the EU],” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox News on late Wednesday. “Soybeans was simply a very timely example of those [agricultural products],” he added. 
Trump’s chief trade enforcer, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, also demanded during a Senate hearing on Thursday that the EU deliver more. “Our view is we are negotiating about agriculture,” he told lawmakers. “That’s part of the project.”

On the other hand, the EU asserts that other agricultural products are not part of the agreement.

Brussels was quick to shoot down such suggestions. “Agriculture is not part of the scope of the talks,” an EU official told reporters on Thursday. 
“It’s clear that the U.S. side would’ve liked [it] but it has not been agreed, and Mr. Ross can say what he wishes but it doesn’t correspond” to the deal agreed, the official added. “There is no ambiguity in this regard.”

Given this conflict one day after the agreement was allegedly reached, Sutton can ask if Noem and Trump sold out wheat, corn, beef and every other ag producer just to get a photo op about an unspecified amount of soybeans.

My Lincoln-Douglas debaters used to work to capture their opponents' value and value criterion. Sutton can use this tactic as well. Republicans, in general, have one overarching value: hate Barack Obama. This trade deal, however, is an extension of Obama's policies.

European Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker wouldn’t pitch it this way. But on Wednesday, he and U.S. President Donald Trump essentially revived trade goals dating from the Barack Obama era. The European Union will buy more American soybeans and liquefied natural gas, while U.S. tariffs on steel imports from that region may be eliminated if the parties can agree. Other goals featured in negotiations about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, under Trump’s predecessor.

Noem touts this deal which follows Obama's trade policy as wonderful. As a Democrat, Sutton has a better claim to Obama's successful policies that she does. He wins on the value level.

Policy debate rounds often close on impact calculation. What's the time frame, magnitude, and probability? Noem and Trump have not given a time frame, and they have no numbers to show the magnitude of the deal. Further, other ag products may not be subject to the deal. Finally, given Trump's erratic nature, the deal, no matter how good it may be, might be disavowed tomorrow, so even the probability is in question. When it comes to this trade deal, Sutton has the advantage on both the policy and value levels.


larry kurtz said...

If any Democrats win at the top of the ticket they all have me to thank for it having worked my ass off recruiting principled conservatives to run outside the party of corruption in Pierre. You're welcome, Sodak Dems.

Kal Lis said...

From your lips to the gods of vote draining ears and may they honor my wish to reward your sacrifice