Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Ducking the issue

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testifies before a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on The Treasury Department's Report on International Economic and Exchange Rate Policies on Capitol Hill in Washington September 16, 2010.

We were all primed for the release of the Treasury’s global currency report this afternoon, which would have included a ruling on whether China was a currency manipulator. But a decision was taken to delay the report until after the Group of 20 summit in Seoul in mid-November.

Pressure from lawmakers and business had been mounting on President Barack Obama to act, but the delay shouldn’t come as a big surprise. After all, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told Congress last month he wanted to rally the G20 around the issue and take a multilateral approach. Perhaps more importantly, the administration is conveniently ducking the issue until after the Nov. 2 congressional elections.

Some Democrats, who have made China’s currency practices an issue in their campaigns, are disappointed today. Our Breakingviews columnist James Pethokoukis says Obama should be given credit for resisting populist pressures for the second time this week, after also declining to heed appeals to impose a national moratorium on home foreclosures.

That may be true but Obama also knows no amount of populism is going to help his party in the midterms, and he is already looking ahead.

It is safe to assume the president wants to avoid starting the second half of his term embroiled in a damaging trade war with China, which also happens to be the largest holder of U.S. government debt. The administration clearly thinks a direct confrontation would be counterproductive, make the Chinese dig in their heels and, if they stop buying U.S. debt, potentially push up long-term interest rates. There are also big issues to address around market access and intellectual property rights, which confrontation would have obscured.

Meg Whitman’s Facebook ad nets 20,000 clicks — and a message about jobs

USA/Republican Meg Whitman’s campaign says the results are in from her innovative Facebook “polling ads,” which asked Californians to choose the issue most important to them. The message came back loud and clear:  Jobs.

The Whitman campaign said its poll, which ran from July 27 to July 31, drew 20,000 Facebook respondents — with 42 percent of them saying that jobs were their number one priority in the 2010 governor’s race.  Not surprising at all in a state with double-digit unemployment.

Another 32 percent voted for fixing education in California, with 26 percent saying that cutting state spending was most critical.  Whitman, who has said that putting Californians back to work is the number one goal of her campaign, released the poll results in a Facebook video.

Meg Whitman breaks new virtual ground with Facebook ‘polling’ ads

USA-POLITICS/CALIFORNIA

In 2010 a candidate would be ill-advised to ignore the Internet, especially if he or she wants to reach younger voters who aren’t paying attention to more traditional campaigns — or, even worse, are tuning out politics entirely.

And Republican Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO who is running for California  governor against Democrat Jerry Brown,  certainly isn’t the first candidate to advertise on Facebook in hopes of tapping into its nearly 500 million users.

But Whitman’s campaign says she has become the first political candidate to use “polling ads” on Facebook — or spots that engage users, asking them to decide which issues they want to hear the candidate address.