Nel's New Day

January 20, 2020

Will Trade Deals Overcome Impeachment?

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has gloated about how good he is at making business deals; he even hired a writer for The Art of the Deal with his name as author. Last week, Congress signed a “replacement” for NAFTA, and DDT signed “phase one” in a trade deal with China. 

Former White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn said DDT’s tariffs “hurt the U.S.” and didn’t help trade deal negotiation. The steel and aluminum tariffs didn’t help the economy, said DDT’s former appointee, partly the reason he left his job. Cohn also said that tariffs didn’t help DDT pass either trade deal.

DDT maintained that China promised to make huge purchases of U.S. goods, including soybeans and pork, but the agreement has a loophole for China about “market conditions.” Skepticism about the deal caused soybean prices to fall, and tariffs on U.S. farm exports worth billions of dollars remain. U.S. farm goods sales to China in 2018 were $9.1 billion, a 50 percent drop from a year earlier and much lower than the peak of $26 billion in 2012. They have a long way to go.

The China deal failed to fulfill DDT’s campaign promise, to force China into changing its economic policies, the ones that DDT said disadvantaged workers and companies. Missing are any changes to China’s huge subsidies to Chinese companies which has greatly benefited the family of Elaine Choe, Transportation Secretary and wife to the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the agreement keeps some tariffs that cost U.S. consumers.

China also reinstated semiannual talks about reform and disputes that DDT had discontinued. Marc Busch, professor of international business diplomacy at Georgetown University, called the deal “more a cessation of hostilities, phase one, coupled with some barter” instead of a trade agreement. Other experts doubted whether DDT will achieve a “phase two.” Scott Kennedy, senior adviser and trustee chair of Chinese business and economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, called it a “very narrow deal. It’s far short of the administration’s original goals, and the US and the international community has paid a very large price for what is a relatively modest deal.” The next time around, DDT may not say that trade wars are good and easy to win as he swivels his focus to tariffs on France and Germany.

In the meantime, the “deal” that DDT made with China returns it to the status quo before he was inaugurated.

The number of DDT’s lies and misleading claims have spiked since he was inaugurated. Of the 16,241 falsehoods during his first three years, 1,999 (six a day) were in 2017, 5,689 (almost 16 a day) in 2018, and the remaining 8,155 (over 22 a day) were in 2019. Here’s a breakdown.

Many of these lies were in his speech to the Farm Bureau’s Annual Convention last Sunday in Austin (TX). DDT claimed that farmer income fell under President Obama when it topped out at the highest it’s ever been in 2013. Taking credit for the $30 billion increase in net farm income, he didn’t point out the $22.4 billion were government subsidies. Last year, farm subsidies hit their highest levels–$22.4 billion and one-fifth of farmer’s money—in over a decade during George W. Bush’s second term, bailouts going primarily to corporate farms. Farmer suicides increased under DDT, and equipment costs went up while farmers with smaller farm lost money.

DDT told farmers that he had also provided “unprecedented support” to the ethanol industry, but he had to change his policy after protests from Midwestern lawmakers and lobbying groups. The visa program also doesn’t allow for enough farmworkers. He falsely suggested that Canadian dairy tariffs were eliminated and that the deal with Japan to reduce tariffs on $7 billion of farm products was a “$40 billion deal.” 

DDT bragged at the conference that the GOP had never been stronger, a claim negated by shifts to Democrats since his inauguration. An awkward part of his speech came from his claim that he fought for farmers’ water rights and ability to control their own usage. DDT is presently suing to take land from ranchers and farmers to build his wall—some of the land owned since before Texas became a state.

DDT’s trade deal with Mexico and Canada keeps almost 90 percent of its predecessor, NAFTA, which DDT proclaimed “the worst trade deal ever made.” The other ten percent comes from the Trans-Pacific Partnership which DDT called a “disaster” and a “rape of our country.” The trade agreement raises auto prices and hurts the U.S. auto industry, according to a federal government analysis.

Both these deals increase trade barriers rather than removing them—and without providing great benefits. Instead of the GOP’s philosophy of anti-tax and pro-market, the Chinese deal does both. Tariffs (aka taxes) remain on $360 billion of Chinese goods, taxes that are paid by U.S. consumers, raise costs for U.S. companies to do business, and risk U.S. jobs. DDT’s tariffs tax products that U.S. manufacturers use to make their goods, and manufacturing has reacted by being in a recession for almost half a year. Despite farm subsidies that were double the amount of the 2009 auto bailout (which DDT constantly criticized), farmer bankruptcies went up 24 percent last year. And the auto industry paid back the loans they received.

Catherine Rampell described the effect of DDT’s trade wars after two years:

“They’ve fractured our international alliances, imposed tens of billions of dollars of new taxes on Americans, resulted in two expensive agricultural bailouts, multiplied farmer bankruptcies and landed the manufacturing sector in a recession.”

This week, DDT is spending another $3.4 million of taxpayer money to give a speech at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. To help spend the $1 million for lodging, some members of the White House entourage will be staying at the Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère, a historic luxury hotel near the city center. The Secret Service will pay more than $400,000 for agents to stay at the Bad Ragaz, a five-star resort featuring indoor and outdoor thermal spas. Costs on top of the $3.4 million are security expenses, salaries, and another $2.2 million for the Air Force round trip between the U.S. and Zurich and the Marine One helicopter between Zurich and Davos.

DDT landed at the resort today and then flies out after his speech (watch for more lies!) before the meeting does its business, working on the problem of climate change. His company includes Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer, Labor secretary Eugene Scalia, and Transportation secretary Elaine Chao along with daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner. Last year, DDT canceled his appearance at the last minute because of the government shutdown, but still cost taxpayers $3.2 million in unused hotel rooms and rental cars.

His keynote speech tomorrow is on the opening day of his impeachment trial in the Senate. Republicans have a new defense for DDT beyond denial and the “so-what” response: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) came up with “things happen.” In one interview, he moved from DDT didn’t seek foreign election assistance to he did do that but it wasn’t important, and finished by calling DDT’s actions a “mistake” but who cares.

In “Is the Oath a Joke,” conservatives William Kristol and Jeffrey K. Tulis wrote about GOP senators who declared their votes in favor of DDT before they swore under oath to “do impartial justice”:

“Human beings will still be fallible, opinionated, even prejudiced. Indeed our Founders expected no less. But there is a big difference between lamentably falling short of the highest standard and actively scorning it. Might citizens press their Senators to summon up some buried residue of decency and a modicum of impartiality?”

The impeachment trial begins tomorrow at 1:00 EST, beginning with procedural questions. Senate Majority Leader McConnell issued draconian rules today that will likely be debated, for example 24 hours for each side over two days. The possibility of witnesses is still up in the air. Every dissension requires a vote with a simple majority for passing the proposals. The Senate has 47 Democrats and Independents. The vote on accepting witnesses comes after open argument from each side and 16 hours set aside for written questions from senators, according to McConnell. Schumer said that the rules “don’t even allow the simple, basic step of admitting the House record into evidence at the trial.”

The Senate controls the videoing of the trial which means limited views, and the setting will appear more like a courtroom than a legislative assembly. Reporters are permitted in seats above the central rostrum but cannot bring cameras, laptops, cell phones, or any other electronic devices. No cameras or media are allowed in closed session for Senate debate. TV correspondent are on the first floor of the Senate side. Outside the chamber, reporters are penned off behind a velvet rope. C-SPAN and the Fox network plan gavel-to-gavel coverage, and CNN will stream the proceedings online. PBS will cover the proceedings and return to it after the nightly NewsHour broadcast. Senators are not allowed to talk, tweet, or text. Questions must be written and handed to Roberts.

McConnell is desperately trying to get the trial over before DDT’s State of the Union speech on February 4. It is not unprecedented for a president to give that speech while tried for impeachment—Bill Clinton did it in 1999—but DDT lacks the self-control of Bill Clinton. DDT has already demonstrated an inordinate degree of fury and unreasonableness, far more than any other person occupying the Oval Office.

The next few days will not be peaceful ones in the Senate, and Chief Justice John Roberts may struggle with his judicial leadership.

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

the way of improvement leads home

reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life

© blogfactory

Genuine news

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Transformational News; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: