April 25, 2014: It's not even early anymore

Posted by mmcmullan on 04/25/2014

Good day,

What’s the good word, America? Welcome to the Early Shift. It’s not even early anymore, so let’s get right down to it; there’s lots of interesting stuff in the news today.

President Obama is visiting a string of countries in Asia, and the first stop was in Japan. There were two hot topics to discuss: A simmering territorial dispute with neighboring China over islands in the East China Sea, and the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations.

Writes Doug Palmer in Politico:

There were scant details of just what progress the two countries had made, but an administration official described Obama as closely involved in the U.S.-Japan talks, widely seen as a linchpin for completing the broader Asia-Pacific pact. …

‘There are always political sensitivities in any kind of trade discussions,’ Obama said at a joint news conference with Abe on Thursday morning that displayed the gaps in talks. ‘All of us have to move out of our comfort zones and not just expect that we’re going to get access to somebody else’s market without providing access to our own.’

There is, unfortunately, one comfort zone the U.S. won’t press Japan on: currency manipulation. Major American industries, the editorial board of the nation’s most influential newspaper, and a rare majority of both legislative chambers on Capitol Hill want a currency rule in the TPP. But so far, the Obama administration hasn’t raised the issue in the talks. As Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) President Scott Paul wrote yesterday in the Huffington Post: The TPP should be shelved unless it addresses currency manipulation.  

Elsewhere: Today’s Washington Post has another story on the crumbling state of the nation’s public infrastructure. Many state and local governments rely on federal funding for their own infrastructure repairs. But with the highway trust fund (the big pot of money Washington pulls from) about to run dry, what will become of the 63,000 structurally deficient bridges in need of repair across the country?

Worth noting: That tweet was from yesterday. Transportation funding now runs out in 159 days.

And here's a little more about currency manipulation: Japan is certainly not the only country to fool with its exchange rate. Less than two weeks after the U.S. Treasury Department declined (again) to name China a currency manipulator, the Wall Street Journal reports its currency hit an 18-month low.

Okay, that’s it. That’s it and that’s all, America. Have a good weekend, and we’ll catch you on Monday.


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