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  • Live Blogging Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Address to the Joint Meeting of Congress

    Expectations for Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s address to the joint meeting of Congress this morning were low. His visit so far has been devoid of highlights. His joint press conference with Obama on Tuesday was canceled, supposedly because of the weather, which was a snub Tony Blair never endured.

    At bottom, the reality is that Brown is desperately unpopular in Britain, and must simply be grateful if any of Obama’s popularity rubs off on him. Because he wants a lot but can deliver little, no one in the Administration, or out of it, has been eager to do him any favors, or even pay him much mind. That in itself, think what one will about Brown himself, is a sad commentary on Britain’s state today.

    His address to Congress needed to be something spectacular. It was not: it was the speech he was expected to give. His repeated compliments to Obama went well beyond the norm, and pointed to the fact that this visit has as much to do with his domestic standing in Britain as to his response to the global financial crash.

    On the Special Relationship itself, which he rightly described as an unbreakable friendship based on shared history and values, he was notably more firm than Obama has been. His tribute to the American and British troops fighting side by side in Iraq and Afghanistan was heartfelt, and in stark contrast to Obama’s refusal to acknowledge America’s allies or even to mention the war in Iraq. His mention of the American military cemeteries that mark Europe, and the American dead that feature in British commemorations, was similarly gracious.

    But apart from supporting the two state solution in the Middle East peace process, and condemning Iran’s nuclear program, his words in the realm of security were clear and heartening, but also devoid of specifics. Particularly notable by its absence was any mention of an increased British troop contribution in Afghanistan, or any support for encouraging the NATO allies to increase their contributions.

    But of course this speech was tipped to focus mainly on Brown’s plans for a ‘Global New Deal.’ And that it did. It is not enough for the U.S. and Britain to pass enormous stimulus measures. Every nation in the world, he proclaimed, must commit to doing the same, as well as to global banking regulations, coordinated reductions of interest rates, outlawing tax havens, a new drive against protectionism, and, inevitably, to creating millions of ‘green jobs.’ The guiding star of the recovery, he proclaimed, must be to “set free the drive of our entrepreneurs.”

    Exactly. But the only one of his recommendations that fit that prescription was his rejection of protectionism. What Brown didn’t explain was how entrepreneurs would be set free by the imposition of global banking regulations. Or why entrepreneurs should welcome governments flooding the financial markets with new debt when lending is already in short supply. Or why, if these mythical green jobs are so profitable, it takes taxes and government subsidies to will them into existence. Or why tax havens – which is just another word for any place that has lower taxes than Europe – should not be popular with entrepreneurs. Or, ultimately, why Congress should cede the sovereignty of the United States to the kind of unelected international economic bureaucracy that he envisions.

    The underlying error in Brown’s speech is a serious one. According to him, global markets must be “shaped” to meet the people’s needs. But that is what markets exist to do: by responding to supply and demand, they offer a far more subtle way of discovering and responding to these needs than any politicized ‘shaping’ process can afford. His argument that markets cannot be values free evades the point. The essential value on which markets are based is the value of individual liberty under law. Controlling the means of life by ‘shaping’ markets means controlling that liberty by regulating not processes, but outcomes. And that is not a control compatible with the sovereign will of the American people, with entrepreneurial drive, or with economic recovery.

    The applause Brown received was warm, and rightly so: it is a matter of courtesy to the Prime Minister of a great ally. But the response he should receive from Congress and the Administration on his financial proposals should be about as chilly as his cancelled press conference would have been.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Live Blogging Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Address to the Joint Meeting of Congress

    1. Jamey, Central Calif says:

      I believe the war of independence was started over just such issues if my memory serves me right.

    2. Margie, (Iowa) says:

      It is definitely time for patriotic conservative Americans to come together to try to take our country back before all of our liberties that our founding fathers fought for, are lost forever.

    3. Amber, Kansas City says:

      I am so sad that the UK is going through Obamanation along with us… does anyone else see the repeats of history? How long until another Stalin or Hitler steps up? What's next, euthanasia? Are we going to decide that spending our way into doesn't work then we need to kill off the rich so the poor can benefit? I'm using extreme hyperbole here, but my point is: when does it end? When do people realize they aren't entitled to anything they didn't earn? That charity is meant to be freely given, not forced. That's not charity; its slavery. I'm disgusted at the entire affair.

    4. Spiritof76, New Hamp says:

      British government intervention in its economy climbed over 50% recently. Mr. Brown has no grounds to talk about a free market entrepreneurs with the socialist policy entrenched in Britain. May be he can offer tips on their wonderful socialized medicine.

    5. Jamey, Central Calif says:

      He came over here to beg and nothing less. The "Social elites", who whore around europe with disdain for America and what it stands for are at a loss. For years the common guy and gal in the working class were "scum", not worthy of bother. Now they have their savior, Obama, and everything should be roses. But alas, JUST WORDS caused the biggest drop in the Dow Jones I can remember. I guess the dirty little secret is that the "scum" actually make America great and in reality, "social elites" are barnacles on the boat. Time to clean the hull!

    6. Pingback: Commentary » Blog Archive » Brown’s Bad History

    7. Oldsailor01-Lima, Oh says:

      Dear Mr Prime Minister Gordon Brown,

      It saddens me in my twilight years to watch my Country evolve into a secular unprincipled and morally corrupted society of

      'slackers' that expect to be taken care of by the Obamaites from cradle to grave. And it even saddens me more to watch Obama snub our most honorable and trusted ally and its Prime Minister. You have my sincere apology for this man's crude welcome gift. I now know what type man we have elected; an educated moron with no honor or common sense.

    8. William Little Geor says:

      Mr. Prime Minister,

      Please consider this to be an apology to you, your government, and your citizens for the unconscionable treatment from our "president" and I use the term loosely, during your visit to Washington concluded several days ago. I acknowledge your country's staunch, often stand alone, save Australia, support of America and it's, often, nebulous, policies in the world. In the same vein, I thank you for you and all your countrymen's support. As a southerner, I have always thought very highly of your country and it's people, for after all, we have a common ancestry, but beyond that, we have much more in common than that fact. I could not, nor do I support this product of the most corrupt state political system ever known in America. This system produces, mostly, thugs, Anti-American, would be socialists, and promotes the dregs of our society to higher office. I see no reason to exclude our president. Many thanks to the British people for all they have endured to be our greatest ally. I pray that this never changes and my gratitude is ongoing and undying. Again, many thanks and I should tell you that there are myriad among our populace who feel,exactly the same as do I!

      William Little mileater@aol.com

    9. Wayne Chatfield says:

      As an American, and truly supportive of one of our best allies, I am totally embarrassed and angry at the ignorance and inconsideration of our President in his gift exchange with Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The change which this poor pathetic American leader bragged about is always definately the change for the worst. I wish I had Mr. Brown's email address cause I would profusely apologize for the ignorance and insentivity of our "fearless leader", and explain to him that Obama does not truly represent half of the people of these United States.

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