Nelson Cunningham

Team NDN Quotes in Major Newspapers on the State of the Union

There's been a lot of buzz leading up to tonight's State of the Union, and we here at NDN are proud to be a part of this ongoing national discourse. 

Just today, NDN's Rob Shapiro was quoted in Ezra Klein's Washington Post column on competitiveness.  In this piece, Shapiro helps contextualize America's competition with China:

"China competes on price," says Robert Shapiro, director of Sonecon, an economic consulting firm. "There isn't any doubt about that. The United States competes on quality and innovation. That's how our companies outdo other companies."

Yesterday, Simon was quoted in The Financial Times, regarding President Obama's approach to the State of the Union:

“You will see a resurgent president,” said Simon Rosenberg, of NDN, a Democratic-aligned think-tank. “What America needs to do now is to create for itself a new strategy in a fundamentally changed world.”

And, in The Washington Times:

“The Republicans have an enormous burden to prove that cutting spending can actually create growth and prosperity,” said Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of NDN, a Democratic think tank. “I think the president is going to argue that the challenges are big and we need big solutions.”

NDN Fellows Mike Hais and Morley Winograd were also cited in USA Today, in a different story, about Baby Boomers hitting the big 6-5:

Both the millennials and the World War II generation are what New Democratic Network scholars and authors Michael Hais and Morley Winograd consider "civic generations," community-minded people seared by crisis and brought together by challenge.

For the World War II generation, it was the Depression and Pearl Harbor. For millennials, it was 9/11 and its aftermath.

Their Boomer parents, according to Hais, belong to a classic "ideological generation," one driven by "internal beliefs, which they try to enact on the rest of the world."

Boomers "tend to think that their experiences are unique," notes Hais, who is joining Winograd for a second book on millennials that is due out in September.

Predictably, there has been much discussion of "triangulation" - a term the press loves and Team Obama loathes.  Simon weighed in on the topic with The Nation:

"The concept of the third way or triangulation is that reasonable people from both sides can come together and strike a deal," says Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democratic Network and a veteran of Clinton's war room in 1992. "And I think what we've learned in the last few years is that formula requires both sides to be reasonable. And we've discovered the Republicans are not."

Simon also spoke with Roll Call about the role of outside influencers on Congress:

“The ecosystem of each ideological movement within the political parties is much bigger than just the elected officials,” said Simon Rosenberg, a veteran of Bill Clinton’s White House who now leads the progressive group New Democrat Network.

Rosenberg identified religious groups, community organizations, labor unions and activist outlets such as as holding more influence over the agenda. On the left, he sees MSNBC, progressive blogs and Stewart’s Comedy Central as dramatically changing the conversation in Washington, and he said their influence has increased in recent years.

Looking ahead on policy, Nelson Cunningham has co-authored an op-ed with Thomas "Mack" McLarty III in The Wall Street Journal regarding the forthcoming free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.  According to the authors:"A full-throated campaign for the Korea, Colombia and Panama trade agreements, along with WTO accession for Russia, can help reset the presidency."

It's already been a busy week here at NDN and we're all excited to see what tonight brings.

Wed AM Update - Simon has the following quote this morning in a front page Susan Page story in USA Today: 

"We're looking at a different phase of the Obama presidency," says Democratic analyst Simon Rosenberg, president of the think tank NDN. "It's a new strategy, a new team and a very different environment than he faced before. It is the second chapter of the administration."

Fri, Oct 9 - Richardson Returns to NDN, Talks US-Latin American Relations

I hope you will join NDN for a special live webcast on Friday, October 9th at 12:15 - a conversation with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson on the current state of US-Latin American relations.  Fresh from a recent trip to Cuba, our good friend, Governor Richardson, will be sharing his observations on a live global webcast moderated by NDN Latin America Policy Initiative Chairman Nelson Cunningham.  

Those watching on-line will be able ask questions and participate in the discussion itself by following the directions on the live screen.  

So check back here in on Friday October 9th at 12:15 for a what will be lively sixty-minute conversation with one of America's most thoughtful and respected leaders.

Flu crisis brought U.S., Mexico together

This was originally published as an op-ed in the June 7 Houston Chronicle.

Presidential summits have a well-deserved reputation for being much talk and much less action. President Barack Obama’s April 16 summit in Mexico City with that country’s president, Felipe Calderon, certainly had its share of high-flown, friendly sounding rhetoric.

“Today … we have confirmed the determination of both governments to consolidate the very, very close contacts and links that join and bring together Mexico and the United States,” President Calderon offered. “I see this visit … as an opportunity to launch a new era of cooperation and partnership between our two countries,” President Obama responded.

And then, just seven days later, that rhetoric was put to a real test. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Mexican citizens were thought to be sick with a new epidemic flu, and dozens or even hundreds were thought to be already dead. The disease seemed to have almost immediately spread to the United States — including at least one member of President Obama’s traveling party in Mexico. Within days, Mexico City was effectively shut down and newspapers in both countries — and around the world — blared the possible arrival of a major new pandemic influenza with the potential to kill millions around the world.

And in the face of mounting hysteria, the response of both Mexico and the United States was an almost perfect display of the cooperation and partnership the presidents had loftily promised.

As the H1N1 virus broke out, some countries hastily canceled flights to Mexico and some halted trade. Not the United States. When some in this country called for shutting the border, President Obama forcefully rejected the idea and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called it “pointless.” This decision not only made practical sense — since the virus had already jumped to the United States, closing the border would have done nothing more than wreak economic havoc on both economies — but the symbolism carried great weight in Mexico. After all, just a year ago the United States was talking about building a wall between the countries. All three Mexican political parties, in a rare demonstration of agreement, applauded the Obama administration’s response.

Mexico did its part to act responsibly. Rather than hiding its problem or refusing to accept outside help out of a misplaced sense of “dignidad,” or the fear of exposing holes in its public health system, Mexico did not hesitate to immediately ask the United States for material support. The Mexican authorities worked closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and their Canadian counterparts, sending them suspected samples for testing that went beyond Mexico’s capabilities. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the United States would send 400,000 regimens of antivirals to Mexico. Dr. Richard Besser of the CDC reported that 34 CDC staff were in the field in five locations in Mexico. The CDC helped Mexico build a lab capability to do diagnosis and confirmation of the H1N1 virus in Mexico itself — a major step that allowed faster confirmation and response, and a shorter path to identifying risk factors.

In short, officials in both countries cooperated closely without the crippling lack of trust that has frustrated our joint efforts in the past, and that we still find to an extent in law enforcement and narcotics matters.

Now that the immediate threat of a killer pandemic has receded (the CDC recently dropped the advisory against unnecessary travel to Mexico, though a recent death and more infections and school closings in New York and elsewhere suggest the danger is not past), it is possible to look back on these events of the past month and see true signs of a new, stable and confident relationship between the United States and Mexico.

In fairness, of course, Obama and Calderon did not wave a wand and create this new relationship. They have benefited from nearly 20 years of close cooperation — from Bush 41 and Carlos Salinas to Clinton and Ernesto Zedillo, and then to Bush 43 and Vicente Fox — that started with the negotiation of NAFTA. Setting aside the lingering public unease over NAFTA’s economic impact, it’s plain that NAFTA did one thing very well: It helped cement a mindset of shared responsibility and institutional frameworks that promote open exchanges between our governments. Notably, of course, President Obama is no longer talking of renegotiating NAFTA.

Presidents Obama and Calderon are both mature, thoughtful leaders, and they have fully embraced this 20-year evolution and may yet bring it to a new level — truly a “new era of cooperation and partnership.” How they and their governments handled the brief but intense H1N1 public hysteria tells us a lot about how we can expect them to develop their own personal relationship, and that of our countries, in the years ahead.

Next up, perhaps, is an issue that touches deep emotional chords in both nations: immigration, and the fate of the millions of Mexican “illegals” living in the United States. Comprehensive immigration reform is an urgent political need; but maneuvering through the political backlash that progress will unleash will require the skilled management and cooperation we showed during the H1N1 scare.

In August, the three leaders of North America — Mexico, Canada, United States — will meet in what has now become a once-yearly North American Summit. President Obama deserves credit for seeing the value of these meetings, which started during the time of his predecessor George Bush. The flu tested our relationships — and found them strong. Now, on to new challenges.

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