Commerce Secretary Confirmation Hearing January 2017 Notes

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(All caps from transcript)

An important function of the Commerce department is purposing spectrum

“ANOTHER VERY VERY IMPORTANT FUNCTION OF COURSE IS SPECTRUM. WE NEED MORE SPECTRUM IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR. I WILL TRY MY BEST TO HELP CONVINCE THOSE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES THAT HAVE SPECTRUM AND DON’T REALLY NEED TO IT PERMIT IT TO BE COMMERCIALIZED. THAT MAY WELL BE A HELP TO EXTENDING BROADBAND TO MORE RURAL COMMUNITIES AND OTHER SEGMENTS THAT ARE UNDERSERVED RIGHT NOW”

I’d like to address the trade deficit in fishing

” ONE OF THE THINGS I’D LIKE TO TRY TO HELP CORRECT IS WE BELIEVE IT OR NOT, HAVE A TRADE DEFICIT IN FISHING OF SOME 11$11 BILLION A YEAR. GIVEN THE ENORMITY OF OUR COASTLINES AND ENORMITY OF FRESH WATER, I WOULD LIKE TO TRY TO FIGURE OUT HOW WE CAN BECOME MUCH MORE SELF-SUFFICIENT IN FISHING AND PERHAPS EVEN A NET EXPORTER OF FISHING.”

I’m pro sensible trade

” I AM NOT ANTI-TRADE, I AM PRO TRADE BUT I’M PRO SENSIBLE TRADE, NOT PRO TRADE THAT IS TO THE DISADVANTAGE OF THE AMERICAN WORKER AND THE AMERICAN MANUFACTURING COMMUNITY. I THINK WE SHOULD PROVIDE ACCESS TO OUR MARKET TO THOSE COUNTRYIES WHO PLAY FAIR, PLAY BY THE RULES AND GIVE EVERYBODY A FAIR CHANCE TO COMPETE. THOSE WHO DO NOT SHOULD NOT GET AWAY WITH IT, THEY SHOULD BE PUNISHED AND SEVERELY. I THINK THAT WE CANNOT AFFORD TRADE THAT IS INHERENTLY BAD FOR AMERICAN WORKERS AND FOR AMERICAN BUSINESSES”

China is the most protectionist country

” CHINA IS THE MOST PROTECTION PROTECTIONIST COUNTRY OF VERY LARGE COUNTRYIES. THEY HAVE BOTH VERY HIGH TARIFF BARRIERS AND VERY HIGH NON-TARIFF TRADE BARRIERS TO COMMERCE. SO THEY TALK MUCH MORE ABOUT FREE TRADE THAN THEY ACTUALLY PRACTICE. WE WOULD LIKE TO LEVELLIZE THAT PLAYING FIELD AND BRING THE REALITYIES A BIT CLOSER TO THE RHETORIC.”

The Jones Act is useful in continuing US Ship Building

“THE JONES ACT IS A FACT. I’VE BEEN LIVING WITH IT. I’VE NEVER VOICED ANY OPPOSITION TO IT. IT’S JUST NOT RELEVANT TO WHAT WE’VE BEEN DOING. BUT THE JONES ACT HAS BEEN USEFUL IN CONTINUEING U.S. SHIP BUILD BUILDING. I THINK WITHOUT THE JONES ACT YOU’D HAVE EVEN LESS U.S. SHIP BUILDING THAN YOU HAVE NOW BECAUSE OF THE REQUIREMENT THAT THE INTRACOASTAL ACTIVITIES THE JONES ACT QUALIFIED VESSELS AND JONES ACT QUALIFIED CREWS.”

We’re fortunate to be dealing with infrastructure in a low rate environment

” I THINK WE’RE FORTUNATE TO BE COMING TO GRIPS WITH INFRASTRUCTURE IN A RELATIVELY LOW INTEREST RATE ENVIRONMENT BECAUSE THAT WILL FACILITATE GETTING A LOT OF PROJECTS DONE THAT COULD NOT BE DONE IN A LOWER INTEREST RATE ENVIRONMENT BECAUSE THERE WOULD BE A CROWDING OUT EFFECT.”

We need to impose duties on Chinese steel

“AS YOU CAN APPRECIATE, I HAVE A GREATER FAMILIARITY WITH MINING THAN MOST PEOPLE UP FOR THIS POSITION. THE FUNDMENTAMENTAL PROBLEM WITH THE STEEL INDUSTRY IS OVERCAPACITY PARTICULARLY IN CHINA. CHINA HAS 1 BILLION TONS OF CAPACITY. THAT’S HALF OF THE WORLD’S CAPACITY. THEY NEED SOMETHING LIKE 700 MILLION TONS DOMESTICALLY. THEY’RE ACTUALLY PRODUCING 800 MILLION TONS AND PUTTING 100 MILLION TONS OUT INTO THE WORLD MARKETS. OFTEN AT DUMPING PRICES. SO I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS WHERE WE NEED DO VERY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO MORE TARIFF ACTIVITY IS THE ANTI-DUMPING REQUIREMENTS THAT WE SHOULD IMPOSE ON THE STEEL INDUSTRY AND ON THE ALUMINUM INDUSTRY AS WELL. THAT’S A VERY BIG ISSUE. AND UNFORTUNATELY UNTIL FAIRLY RECENTLY, EUROPE WAS EVEN MORE RETICENT TO IMPOSE COUNTERVAILING DUTIES THAN WE ARE, BUT FINALLY THEY SEEM TO BE FEELING THE PINCH OF IT AND THEY’RE STARTING TO COME AROUND”

Foreigners are avoiding paying duties by setting up shell companies

“ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HORRIFIED ME IS I STUDIED ABOUT ENFORCEMENT IS THERE ARE LITERALLY BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF COUNTERVAILING DUTIES THAT ARE NEVER COLLECTED BECAUSE THE FOREIGNERS SET UP LITTLE SHELL COMPANIES HERE, WE IMPOSE A DUTY, THERE’S NOBODY HOME WHEN WE COME TIME TO COLLECT. I THINK THAT KIND OF THING HAS TO BE FIXED. THERE’S NOT MUCH POINT GOING THROUGH A MULTIYEAR TRADE CASE IF THEN — IN CASE YOU WIN YOU DON’T EVEN COLLECT THE COUNTERVAILING DUTIES. THAT DOESN’T CHANGE ANYBODY’S BEHAVIOR AND IT’S A LOSS OF REVENUE TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.”

Regulation, energy policy, trade policy and infrastructure

“I THINK — I WROTE AN EDITORIAL WITH PETER NAVARRO THAT OUTLINED FOUR PLANKS TO THE ECONOMIC POLICY. ONE WAS REGULATORY REFORM. I’M NOT AGAINST ALL REGULATIONS, OBVIOUSLY, BUT I DO THINK THAT PENDULUM, PERHAPS, HAS SWUNG A BIT FURTHER THAN IT SHOULD. AND I BELIEVE THE PRESIDENT WILL ROLL BACK SOME OF THE REGULATIONS. I DON’T KNOW WHICH ONES BUT I THINK HE’LL ROLL BACK SOME. THAT’S ONE OF THE MOST FREQUENT COMPLAINTS I HEAR FROM THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY IS ABOUT OVERREGULATION. SECOND IS THE ENERGY POLICY. BOTH MAKING US CLOSER TO BEING ENERGY SELF-SUFFICIENT BECAUSE WE STILL ARE A NET IMPORTER OF ENERGY AND HOWEVER YOU LOOK AT IT, THAT’S A DRAIN ON THE ECONOMY. THIRD IS WHAT WE’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT BEFORE, HELPING OUR BALANCE OF TRADE, PARTICULARLY BY INCREASING THE EXPORTS. I THINK IF WE COMBINE EACH OF THOSE AND JUST GET A FRACTION OF A PERCENT MORE GROWTH FROM EACH, WE’LL GET TO THE KINDS OF NUMBERS THAT YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT. AND LAST, OF COURSE, BEING THE INFRASTRUCTURE. WE DESPERATELY NEED INFRASTRUCTURE, NOT ONLY BECAUSE OF THE DIRECT JOBS IT CREATES, BUT INEFFICIENT AND ARCHAIC INFRASTRUCTURE IS, ITSELF, A DRAIN ON THE ECONOMY.”

Tariffs are a negotiating tool

“I THINK TARIFFS PLAY A ROLE BOTH AS A NEGOTIATING TOOL, AND IF NECESSARY, TO PUNISH OFFENDER ER ERS WHO DON’T PLAY BY THE RULES.”

Broadband is an essential part of infrastructure spending

” I THINK BROADBAND IS AN ESSENTIAL PART. BROADBAND IS, TO A VERY LARGE DEGREE, A PATH TO THE FUTURE. AND I THINK, THEREFORE, IT’S A VERY ESSENTIAL COMPONENT OF ECONOMIC POLICY ALL TOGETHER INCLUDING THE INFRASTRUCTURE COMPONENT.”

Need to balance technology and jobs

“I THINK MORE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, MORE ENCOURAGEMENT OF TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGH, IS CLEARLY AN IMPORTANT THING, BUT AT THE SAME TIME, WE NEED TO PROTECT OUR EXISTING INDUSTRIES BECAUSE THEY REALLY ARE VERY MUCH LABOR INTENSIVE. AND I THINK WE ALSO ARE GOING TO HAVE TO COPE WITH THE CHALLENGE THAT COMBINED WITH THE OPPORTUNITY OF SOME OF THE TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES. FOR EXAMPLE, DRIVERLESS CARS ARE PROBABLY A VERY GOOD THING. THEY SEEM TO BE, IN ANY EVENT, AN INEVITABLE THING, BUT THAT PRESUMABLY WILL ALSO LEAD TO DRIVERLESS TRUCKS. WELL, THERE’S SOMETHING LIKE 3 MILLION AMERICAN ADULTS WHO DEPEND ON OVER-THE-ROAD TRUCKS FOR THEIR LIVELIHOOD AND IT’S A PRETTY GOOD LIVELIHOOD. THEN YOU ALSO HAVE THE SHORTER TRIP DRIVERS AS WELL. SO I THINK WHAT WE HAVE TO DO IS TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE SURE WE GET THE BENEFITS OF THE IMPROVED TECHNOLOGY AND YET COPE WITH THE DISLOCATION THAT IT INEVITABLY WILL PRODUCE IN CERTAIN OF THE INDUSTRIES. SO I THINK THAT’S GOING TO BE A REAL BALANCING ACT.”

Exports are the best way to deal with the trade deficit

“AS I HAVE SAID QUITE OFTEN PUBLICLY I THINK THE BEST WAY TO DEAL WITH THE TRADE DEFICIT IS INCREASED EXPORTS. I THINK THAT’S THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY. THE NUMBER TWO IS TO GET COMPANIES LIKE THAT TO BUILD THEIR FACTORIES HERE SO THAT WORKERS DO HAVE NOT ONLY CONTINUED EMPLOYMENT BUT ENHANCED EMPLOYMENT. I THINK WITH THE RIGHT POLICIES WE CAN ACCOMPLISH THAT.”

We need more apprenticeship programs especially in STEM

” I THINK IT’S AN ESSENTIAL THING. THOSE ARE SOME OF THE INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE. I THINK WHAT WE WILL NEED TO DO IS FIND PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE TECHNOLOGICAL CAPABILITIES. ONE OF THE PROBLEMS IS OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IS STINTING UNSTEMMED SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATH COURSES. WE ARE ALSO STINTING ON VOCATIONAL TRAINING. SO ONE OF THE PROBLEMS IS THERE’S A LACK IN SOME OF THE MINORITY COMMUNITIES OF THE CAPABILITIES TO DO THAT. THAT’S A VERY SERIOUS PROBLEM WE CAN HOPE TO COPE WITH SOME OF THAT WITH APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS. WE ARE THE WORST ON HAVING APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS. WE ARE ALSO THE WORST ON HAVING VOCATIONAL TRAINING.”

Need systems that talk to each other

“I’M A VERY BIG PROPONENT OF CLOUD. WE’VE USED IT A LOT IN PRIVATE SECTOR. AND AS NAR AS WE CAN TELL IT IS NOT ONLY MORE EFFICIENT, IT IS PROBABLY ALSO MORE SECURE FOR LOTS OF VERY COMPLICATED TECHNICAL REASONS. I THINK IT’S A VERY IMPORTANT THING FOR GOVERNMENT TO DO. AND ALSO TO HAVE SYSTEMS THAT TALK TO EACH OTHER. THERE’S AN AWFUL LOT OF SILOING BOTH WITHIN COMMERCE AND OUTSIDE OF COMMERCE. AND I THINK THAT IS NOT A VERY SATISFACTORY END RESULT. WE NEED TO ALL BE ON SIMILAR QUALITY AND EFFICIENCY OF COMMUNICATION”

We’ve gone a little permit nutsy

“THE PERMITTING IS AN ISSUE. I THINK IT’S ONE OF THE REASONS WHY THERE WEREN’T SO MANY SHOVEL-READY PROJECTS WHEN PRESIDENT OBAMA GOT MONEY FOR INFRASTRUCTURE. AND THE PERMITTING ISN’T JUST ON BIG PROJECTS. IN SOME PARTS OF THIS COUNTRY IF YOU WANT TO PUT A PORT-A-POTTY ON A WELL SITE YOU HAVE TO GO GET A PERMIT AND IT TAKES WEEKS TO DO THAT. THAT’S NOT EVEN DRILLING A HOLE IN THE GROUND. IT’S NOT INVASIVE. IT’S NOT ANYTHING. I THINK WE’RE GONE A LITTLE PERMIT NUTSY.”