How the Obama administration sold New Balance on trade deal

Real Clear Defense:
New Balance's Cronyism Invades Defense Bill

Last month, New Balance revealed the company disengaged from the fight over the Trans-Pacific Partnership last year because it had cut a secret deal with the Obama administration. New Balance vice president Matt LeBretton told National Public Radio the “trade ambassador came to us and said, ‘look, I know you have this other initiative - you want to sell shoes to the military?’”

The “big, sweet military contract,” as NPR described it, came at a price though.

LeBretton told the Boston Globe that the company “swallowed the poison pill that is TPP so we could have a chance to bid on these [military] contracts” -- presumably the contracts it had been lobbying the DoD for over the past several years. During his NPR interview LeBretton added “we were told that we weren't to speak about this publicly in any way, shape or form. And we weren't to criticize the TPP or the administration in any way, shape or form. We took the deal.”

The reason New Balance broke its silence was because the DoD determined the shoes provided for consideration did not meet “cost standards, and one of the models did not meet durability standards.”

We now know that it was right at this time that Tsongas and Poliquin sprung into action to include the New Balance amendment into the annual NDAA. If the provision ultimately becomes law, it would effectively force the DoD to buy New Balance athletic shoes for new military recruits. By virtue of successful lobbying, New Balance would become the sole provider of athletic shoes for newly enlisted military members.
Under the proposed law the recruits could no longer buy Brooks or Ascis for example.  This is a bigger deal than some may think.  If you have used running shoes to any large extent you know that certain brands fit certain people better than others.  For example, my feet do better with the Brooks and Asic shoes.  Others may prefer Nike or Addias.


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