Secretary Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Ambassador Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative, Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice President for An Economy that Works for People And Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age After the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council Ministerial

30 Sep

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

MODERATOR:  Members of the press, we have time for a couple of questions.

QUESTION:  (Off-mike.)

SECRETARY RAIMONDO:  That issue is outside of the scope of TTC, so it wasn’t on today’s agenda.

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) thing that came out of today?

MS VESTAGER:  Well, not only is it amazing to be here – the hospitality, the level of organization – even the flags are behaving well.  (Laughter.)  For me, one of the big takeaways is our discussions on artificial intelligence, that minds are meeting for artificial intelligence to be trustworthy, to be human-centered, and to have a risk-based approach which, of course, will leave so much AI untouched by regulation or invasion from a political side, but focus on the areas where something fundamental is at stake, whether it’s the risk of discrimination or things like that.

I think that’s a really important takeaway.  I hold that really dear because it’s so fundamental for our democracy that this is still working.  So it has been a really fruitful day.

MR DOMBROVSKIS:  Well, I also would like to thank our U.S. hosts for excellent organization of the event and for very productive discussions we’ve had throughout the day.  Indeed, we are strategic partners, we are allies, so as this Trade and Technology Council opens a new chapter of cooperation between EU and United States in the area of trade, we’ll be concentrating on the questions of export controls, investment screening, also cooperating on global trade challenges.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  And I would say the most positive thing of the day, besides the substance – and take a look at the statement that’ll be issued shortly, if it’s not already out – is just a remarkable spirit of cooperation, collaboration, and a desire between the United States and the European Union to work very, very closely together.  We represent two of the world’s largest economies.  Collectively we’re about 42, 43 percent of world GDP.  When we’re working together, we have a unique ability to help shape the norms, the standards, the rules that will govern the way technology is used, the technology that affects the lives of virtually all of our citizens.  We have an ability to set the pace, to set the standard.  And I think what we found today and the work that led up to today – because we’ve had working groups in 10 different areas working very hard on these issues for the past few months – I think we’re finding that we can make very, very practical progress on the issues that actually matter in the lives of our citizens.

So I come away from this feeling extremely both energized and enthusiastic about the possibilities of what we can do together between the United States and the European Union.

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) no mention of China, if I may.  And also no mention of the timing of the next meeting in the final statement where there was in the draft.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, on the next meetings, we will – I’m sure we’ll have an announcement on that in the coming days, moving forward.  We intend to meet on a regular basis.

QUESTION:  How do you expect the semi – today’s commitments on semiconductors to help with the global shortage, and what can we expect from TTC on semiconductors going forward?

SECRETARY RAIMONDO:  So the discussion of semiconductors occupied a great deal of our time today.  The U.S. and the EU are experiencing similar challenges in the semiconductor industry with respect to shortages, and we have agreed to move forward together to have greater transparency in the supply chains, collect data from industry so we can have greater transparency and trust in supply chains, and over time really look to collaborate as we increase supply on each of our shores and also collaborate as it relates to research and development for semiconductors.  We see this as an area of very fruitful collaboration given that our interests are aligned and our struggles are similar at the moment.

MODERATOR:  Thank you, everyone.  That’s all the time we have for today.  Thank you, everyone.

 

Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks at the Workforce Management into Tech Jobs Roundtable

29 Sep

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Gina, thank you very much and it’s wonderful to be here with all of you.  Thank you so much for taking the time for this conversation this afternoon.  We’ve had a very productive day already in Pittsburgh, a great American city, an industrial capital in the last century, a high-tech capital in this century, and so a very fitting place I think for the conversations we’re having.

Let me just – at the risk of repeating something I said in one of our conversations this morning, just put it this way:  If we were gathered in this room around this table 100 years ago when we were asking ourselves what constitutes the wealth of our respective nations, we’d probably be talking about everything from the expanse of our land mass to the size of our population to the strength of our military to our abundance of natural resources.  And happily, the United States and the European Union remain very wealthy in all of those attributes.

But I think what this conversation reflects is the fact that, more than ever before, the true wealth of a nation is found in its human resources and the potential for a country or a group of countries to fully unleash those resources to meet their full potential.  And that’s ultimately what this is all about and what we’re trying to get at today, particularly how we do that more effectively and more equitably in the tech space.  And so we’re very anxious to hear from all of you.

As my colleagues have said, one of the other things we know so powerfully is that we have to be doing all of these things hand-in-hand and from the takeoff with all of the relative stakeholders, and not just on the landing, because if we don’t, whatever decisions we may arrive at as representatives of our governments will probably not be sustainable.  They won’t last.  So it’s vitally important that we have these conversations, we have this input, and it’s a regular dialogue.  That’s very much the spirit of the enterprise that we’re engaged in with the TTC across all the issues we’re working.

So again, thanks to everyone for being here, and anxious to hear from you as opposed to hearing from us.  Thanks.

ICYMI: Associated Press: US general: Afghan collapse rooted in 2020 deal with Taliban

29 Sep

**ICYMI**

Key Point: “Senior Pentagon officials said Wednesday the collapse of the Afghan government and its security forces in August could be traced to a 2020 U.S. agreement with the Taliban that promised a complete U.S. troop withdrawal.”

Associated Press: US general: Afghan collapse rooted in 2020 deal with Taliban
By Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor
September 29, 2021

Senior Pentagon officials said Wednesday the collapse of the Afghan government and its security forces in August could be traced to a 2020 U.S. agreement with the Taliban that promised a complete U.S. troop withdrawal.

[…]

“The signing of the Doha agreement had a really pernicious effect on the government of Afghanistan and on its military — psychological more than anything else, but we set a date-certain for when we were going to leave and when they could expect all assistance to end,” McKenzie said.

He was referring to a Feb. 29, 2020, agreement that the Trump administration signed with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, in which the U.S. promised to fully withdraw its troops by May 2021 and the Taliban committed to several conditions, including stopping attacks on American and coalition forces. The stated objective was to promote a peace negotiation between the Taliban and the Afghan government, but that diplomatic effort never gained traction before Biden took office in January.

[…]

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, testifying alongside McKenzie, said he agreed with McKenzie’s analysis. He added that the Doha agreement also committed the United States to ending airstrikes against the Taliban, “so the Taliban got stronger, they increased their offensive operations against the Afghan security forces, and the Afghans were losing a lot of people on a weekly basis.”

[…]

“The Republicans’ sudden interest in Afghanistan is plain old politics,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, who supported Biden’s decision to end U.S. involvement there.

Tuesday’s hearing also was contentious at times, as Republicans sought to portray Biden as having ignored advice from military officers and mischaracterized the military options he was presented last spring and summer.

In a blunt assessment of a war that cost 2,461 American lives, Milley said the result was years in the making.

“Outcomes in a war like this, an outcome that is a strategic failure — the enemy is in charge in Kabul, there’s no way else to describe that — that is a cumulative effect of 20 years,” he said Tuesday, adding that lessons need to be learned, including whether the U.S. military made the Afghans overly dependent on American technology in a mistaken effort to make the Afghan army look like the American army.

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas asked Milley why he did not choose to resign after his advice was rejected.

Milley, who was appointed to his position as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President Donald Trump and retained by Biden, said it was his responsibility to provide the commander in chief with his best advice.

“The president doesn’t have to agree with that advice,” Milley said. “He doesn’t have to make those decisions just because we are generals. And it would be an incredible act of political defiance for a commissioned officer to resign just because my advice was not taken.”

(MORE)

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Another Day, More Local Editorials Slam Republicans For Vote Against Raising Debt Ceiling

29 Sep

Local editorial boards across the country are continuing to call out Republicans for risking a default on our nation’s debt, which would have very real consequences on working people. From jeopardizing up to six million American jobs, stopping Social Security payments, and blocking our soldiers from getting paid, Republicans are proving to the American people that they’re willing to destabilize our economic recovery for petty political games.

See the latest editorials from across the country below:

In Florida:

Tampa Bay Times: Blocking the debt ceiling is a reckless move by Senate Republicans | Editorial

But there is no reason to block an essential vote on raising the nation’s debt ceiling. Doing so is as reckless and self-serving as it is hypocritical. Both parties added to the debt — the Trump tax cuts, anyone? — and now they need to pay for it. Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida are particularly brazen for ignoring this shared sense of responsibility.

[…] 

Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling by trillions of dollars when their party was in control, and the current increase is needed to cover spending under previous administrations of both parties, not to pay for new spending bills working through Congress.

That’s why it’s galling to see the very politicians who’ve bellied up to the buffet now attempt to dine and dash. Rubio and Scott both voted Monday against proceeding to raise the debt limit. Where was that fiscal restraint in March 2020, when both voted to send the $2 trillion pandemic-relief CARES Act to President Donald Trump’s desk? Or back in December 2017, when Rubio voted for Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut, which then-Gov. Scott supported? 

In Minnesota:

Mankato Free-Press: Our View: Spending | Don’t play politics with debt ceiling

Once again, Congress plays a dangerous game with the raising of the U.S. debt ceiling.

[…]

And while Republicans did not support the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill congressional Democrats and President Joe Biden supported earlier this year that sent relief to working families, they passed a $1.5 trillion tax bill that provided generous tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy in 2017.

[…]

Approving a high debt ceiling limit should not be a partisan issue. It’s required to help the U.S. pay obligations that come from spending supported by both parties.

In Massachusetts:

The Republican: Debt ceiling struggle not a game 

Mark your calendars. Oct. 18, which will be here before we know it, just two weeks from Monday, is the day when our nation will no longer be able to pay its bills. Though this is what anyone with a clue would consider a real problem, that hasn’t kept congressional Republicans from playing a game of chicken with the full faith and credit of the United States government. Because, well, it’s all a game, right?

Not at all, obviously, though there are plenty in the once-Grand Old Party today who operate as though it were.

[…]

Republicans should have considered where their needless tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy four years back would lead. One imagines that they actually understand how things work, but are confident that not everyone does. So they can make a whole lot of noise and get some people to believe that what they are huffing and puffing about is based on something. Something besides pure political posturing, that is.

It isn’t.

In California:

The Press Democrat: PD Editorial: Republicans’ debt limit threats could upend the economy

Republicans in Congress are gambling with America’s fiscal health. They should join Democrats to increase the debt limit before it’s too late.

[…]

Default would be catastrophic.

Much of the federal government would shut down, unable to pay Social Security, Medicare and other bills. The effects would ripple out from there, potentially sparking a global recession. If stock markets plunge, people’s retirement savings would take a huge hit.

[…]

Republicans want to pin a debt limit increase on Democrats in elections next year. That small partisan gain is not worth jeopardizing the full faith and credit of the United States. The sooner Republicans end their brinkmanship, the less the harm will be.

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ICYMI: Financial Times: The US debt ceiling needs to be raised

29 Sep

**ICYMI**

Key Point: “Unlike so much else in the US, public debt is bipartisan. It was accrued over time through the actions of Democrats and Republicans, including Donald Trump’s tax cuts of 2017. A large contributor was pandemic relief, which, at least in its first wave, commanded near-unanimity in Washington.

“It is as grim as ever, then, to see partisan feuding as the latest of America’s fiscal cliff edges nears. For a sense of the stakes, consider that a government shutdown, due to lack of funding, is the lesser of the possible crises. The other is outright default… Republicans, as co-authors of the debt, should co-operate in raising the limit.… Republicans, as co-authors of the debt, should co-operate in raising the limit.”

Financial Times: The US debt ceiling needs to be raised
By The Editorial Board
September 29, 2021

Unlike so much else in the US, public debt is bipartisan. It was accrued over time through the actions of Democrats and Republicans, including Donald Trump’s tax cuts of 2017. A large contributor was pandemic relief, which, at least in its first wave, commanded near-unanimity in Washington.

It is as grim as ever, then, to see partisan feuding as the latest of America’s fiscal cliff edges nears. For a sense of the stakes, consider that a government shutdown, due to lack of funding, is the lesser of the possible crises. The other is outright default.

[…]

This week, Republicans blocked even the consideration of a bill that linked raising the ceiling to providing short-term funding for the government. They want the Democrats to be seen to loosen the constraint on their own, landing them with a reputation as spendthrifts in the process. This political gambit, dressed up as concern for the budget, is not new. But the context — a still-live pandemic, a gingerly recovering economy — is unusually fraught. Fiscal brinkmanship is even less conscionable now than it is in normal times.

Republicans, as co-authors of the debt, should co-operate in raising the limit. They are right that Democrats, who run all three branches of the federal government, are in free-spending mood. An infrastructure plan and much larger social reform bill are navigating Congress this week. But the debt is a legacy of past decisions, not a single year of “big government”. In any case, the GOP’s budgetary conservatism tends to be strongest in opposition.

[…]

Americans have a mostly benign experience of these crises. But that is increasingly the problem. The very regularity of fiscal cliff edges inures people to their seriousness. The markets expect Washington to fear default enough to do what is needed in the end. In Washington, each party expects the other to dread the market enough to come to the table. All the while, the rest of the world assumes the US would never allow the worst to happen.

There is a fragile web of assumptions and second-guesses here. That it has held together in the past — if occasional government shutdowns count as “holding together” — does not mean it will do so eternally. A disastrous accidental default cannot be allowed to happen. This needs a lasting and not just tactical fix.

(MORE)

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Joint Statement on the C5+1 Ministerial during UNGA 76

29 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan on the occasion of the C5+1 Ministerial on the margins of UNGA 76.

Begin text: 

The U.S. Secretary of State and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan met in a hybrid virtual and in-person C5+1 format September 22, 2021.

Participants celebrated the thirty-year anniversaries of the Central Asian countries’ independence and establishment of bilateral relations with the United States.  They also reiterated the importance of the C5+1 regional diplomatic platform, noting its utility in facilitating critical conversations throughout 2021 regarding coordination on Afghanistan, COVID-19, economic connectivity, and the climate crisis.

At this September 22 ministerial dialogue held during UNGA, participants discussed the C5+1’s response to the evolving security, economic, and humanitarian challenges in Central Asia and surrounding regions.  Regarding Afghanistan, participants affirmed the importance of mitigating a potential humanitarian crisis and calling on the Taliban to counter terrorism, allow safe passage for foreign citizens and Afghans who want to leave, and form an inclusive government that respects basic rights.  Participants also affirmed the importance of continued C5+1 support for the people of Afghanistan, utilizing the potential of Central Asia and its domestically produced goods for joint coordinated efforts in providing humanitarian assistance and ensuring food security.  Participants reaffirmed their commitment to addressing these issues collectively, and in a manner that supports the continued independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the C5.

End text.

Well, Well, Well, If It Isn’t The Consequences of Kristi Noem’s Shady Actions

29 Sep

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is finally getting the national attention she’s been craving, but it’s probably not the attention she wanted. After reports yesterday revealed Noem’s shady use of the governor’s office to try to enrich her family, reports today confirm that the South Dakota attorney general is investigating those meetings. 

Associated Press: South Dakota AG reviewing Noem’s meeting with daughter

  • “South Dakota’s attorney general said Tuesday he is reviewing concerns from state lawmakers over a meeting Gov. Kristi Noem held last year that included both her daughter and a state employee who was overseeing her daughter’s application to become a certified real estate appraiser.”
  • “Ethics experts said the episode raised concerns that the governor had abused the power of her office.”

Washington Post: South Dakota attorney general ‘actively reviewing’ Gov. Kristi Noem’s controversial family meeting

  • “Noem reportedly organized a meeting in her office on July 27, 2020 to discuss ‘appraiser certification procedures,’ which included her daughter Kassidy and Sherry Bren, the head of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation’s appraiser certification program, Bren’s supervisor, and the state’s Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman.”
  • “While Noem’s daughter secured her certification months later, in November 2020, Bren says she was subsequently pushed to retire in a conversation with Hultman. That’s according to an age-discrimination complaint Bren eventually filed against the Department of Labor and Regulation.”
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Democrats Are In Disarray And Joe Biden Is MIA

29 Sep

Democrats started the week trying to push the largest tax increase and the largest spending increase in our nation’s history. They woke up this morning in absolute disarray.

Many Democrats feel “betrayed” by Speaker Pelosi.

The radical Socialists leading the Congressional Progressive Caucus told CNN they have enough votes to block the Trojan Horse “infrastructure” bill, which they are supposed to be voting on this Thursday.

Making matters worse, last night, Democrat Whip Clyburn told reporters he was “not ready” to start whipping votes for the bill.

JOE BIDEN IS MIA: 

Many are asking where is Joe Biden, the leader of the Democrat Party? He was once again MIA.

Today, Biden was forced to cancel a previously scheduled trip to Chicago in what appears to be a desperate attempt to salvage his Socialist agenda.

This is all while Democrats have yet to pass legislation providing funding for the federal government for FY22, which could cause a government shutdown as early as this week.

So how do they plan to address all of this? House Democrats have yet to schedule any significant legislative action for today.

In short: Democrats are in disarray. Their legislative agenda is shot, and the Democrat controlled government could shut down by the end of the week. DO NOT FORGET: If the government shuts down, it will be because of Democrats who control the House, the Senate, and the White House.

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