Obama proposes reorganizing trade offices

President Obama asked Congress today to give him the power to make it easier to reorganize the federal government, starting with a plan to combine various offices devoted to international trade.
"We live in a 21st-century economy, but we've still got a government organized for the 20th century," Obama said in remarks at the White House.
Speaking to a group of invited business owners, Obama asked for what is called "fast-track authority." It would enable him -- and future presidents -- to propose specific re0rganizations for up-or-down congressional votes; Congress could not amend or change the plan submitted by the president.
Obama -- who has clashed with Congress in recent months, particularly the Republican-run House -- noted that an early Congress gave reorganization authority to President Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression; it took away that authority during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
As his first plan, Obama proposed combining several agencies that have overlapping trade and business development responsibilities: The trade sections of the Commerce Department, the Small Business Administration, United States Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Trade and Development Authority.
"We'd have one department where entrepreneurs can go from the day they come up with an idea and need a patent, to the day they start building a product and need financing for a warehouse, to the day they're ready to export and need help breaking into new markets overseas," Obama said.
The president also announced that, in the meantime, he is elevating the Small Business Administration to Cabinet-level status.
Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, noted that Obama proposed government reorganization almost a year ago in his State of the Union Address.
"While we first learned of this proposal this morning in the press, we'll be sure to give it a careful review once the White House provides us with the details of what it is he wants to do," Stewart said.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Obama -- proponent of the health care law and new financial transaction laws -- is making an election year conversion to the cause of small government.
"Yesterday, President Obama asked for a $1.2 trillion increase in the debt limit, today he is proposing to shrink the federal government," Cornyn said. "Unfortunately, President Obama does not have much of a record to back up his newfound, election-year enthusiasm for limited government."

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