Sen. Brown: White House needs prodding on trade issues

Related story: A sunny YSU forecastBy DAVID SKOLNICK


U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said it’s a constant struggle to get the Obama administration to address trade issues.

But Brown told The Vindicator editorial board Tuesday that President Barack Obama has done a better job with trade than those who served before his fellow Democrat.

“These presidents are skittish about trade issues,” Brown said. “This one [Obama] is better than the past four predecessors or 10 predecessors, but you’ve got to keep pushing it.”

The past four predecessors would date to President Ronald Reagan, and Obama’s past 10 predecessors would go back to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Why is there a struggle?

“There are so many demands; there are so many cries out for ‘we need federal help here in this awful economy,’ and they can’t do everything,” Brown said of the Obama administration. “I think they should move faster in some [cases]. They’ve delivered for Ohio in a lot of ways, but we need a lot more.”

Brown specifically praised Obama for his support of an International Trade Commission decision in December 2009 that places a duty of up to 99 percent on Chinese tube imports that adversely affected companies such as V&M Star in Youngstown. The company is building a $650 million expansion near its Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard facility.

As for the 2010 election, Brown said Democrats will lose some seats in the U.S. House and Senate, but “it won’t be a bloodbath” with Republicans making large gains in Congress as some political pundits predict.

Brown won’t run for re-election for another two years.

During Tuesday’s interview, Brown criticized Rob Portman, the Republican Senate nominee and former President George W. Bush trade representative.

“I’m not saying I want to be on the ballot this year ... but I would in some ways welcome the challenge of Rob Portman, playing out my vision and his vision,” he said. “Let the voters choose, because I’d beat him.”

Brown said Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, Portman’s Democratic opponent, should win in a close race.

“Portman has so much more money,” Brown said. “But I think Fisher’s in a great position because Portman’s got more baggage than any candidate we’ve seen in a long time. He’s the absolute architect of the Bush economy.”

In response, Jessica Towhey, Portman’s spokeswoman, ignored Brown and criticized Fisher.

“For the last three years, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher has collected a paycheck to create jobs in Ohio, yet has failed miserably, sitting idly by as Ohio has lost about 400,000 jobs,” she said.

Fisher has said poor trade decisions by Bush and Portman are responsible for job losses and the struggling economy.

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