Brown: NAFTA Is Not Dead in Congress

RONALD BROWN, the secretary of commerce, says that President Clinton has not been discouraged by setbacks during his early days in office, including his inability to win congressional approval for his $16.3 billion stimulus package.

"Bill Clinton was born to be president. He is extraordinarily comfortable in the job, and he is extraordinarily confident in the job," Mr. Brown says. He adds that the White House is renewing its fight for a stimulus program to create jobs.

After a bumpy week for the Clinton administration, Brown, who is a former Democratic Party chairman, talked about politics, the United States economy, and international trade with reporters at a Monitor breakfast on Friday.

One of the top items on Brown's agenda is the California economy. "The situation is about much more" than last year's Los Angeles riots, he says. Brown's goal is to promote public- and private-sector investments in the state. "This is not just a run in and run out ... crisis-oriented plan," he says, but "a long-term effort."

Addressing the most problematic and promising aspects of US trade policy, Brown says revenues and jobs generated by US goods and services abroad "provide the greatest potential for economic growth in the American economy."

Just back from a trip to Tokyo, he stresses that "the $50 billion US trade deficit with Japan is unacceptable." The administration will push for "measurable results" in gaining US firms access to the Japanese market, he says.

Brown strongly disagrees with Office of Management and Budget Director Leon Panetta's assessment that the North American Free Trade Agreement is virtually a "dead" issue in Congress. "We haven't even started on NAFTA," the commerce secretary says, adding that "supplemental agreements [on prickly labor and environmental issues] haven't even been negotiated yet."

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