Tag Archives: free trade

When is a trade deal not a deal? When Donald Trump is the negotiator

Donald Trump needed another distraction yesterday, so he announced that he had reached a trade deal with Mexico to replace NAFTA.

Yeah, not even close.

As Steve Benen notes, Trump doesn’t seem to realize his new trade deal isn’t a trade deal:

Let’s back up to provide some context. For about a year, the Trump administration has engaged Canadian and Mexican officials in renegotiating the terms of the existing NAFTA agreement, which the president claims to hate, despite never fully explaining why. The months-long process has been a struggle, and by all accounts, the countries are not yet close to a trilateral deal.

Recently, however, Trump’s team has been working directly with Mexico on a provision related to auto manufacturing, and yesterday, the White House announced that those talks resulted in an agreement. That’s not nothing, and it may move the administration closer to its goal.

But it’s only a step. The Atlantic’s David Frum joked yesterday, “Congratulations to the Trump administration on reaching a preliminary agreement in principle to begin negotiations with half of America’s NAFTA counterparties with a view to revising one section of the trade agreement!

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War of the Roses: the ‘Kochtopus’ vs. the Party of Trump

Hopefully this family feud will end as badly for them as it did for Oliver Rose (Michael Douglas) and Barbara Rose (Kathleen Turner) in The War of The Roses (1989), with both sides destroying one another in the bitter end.

Maybe they can use one of the chandeliers at Mar-a-Lago, or the Trump Hotel in D.C.

The “Kochtopus” network and the Party of Trump fka the Republican Party apparently are feuding with one another after having enabled one another in 2016 in order to achieve their mutual goal of trickle down tax cuts for corporations and wealthy plutocrats. Now that they got what they both wanted, their annoyances with their differences are now coming to the fore.

Top officials with the “Kochtopus” donor network affiliated with billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch last weekend sought to distance the network from the Republican Party and President Trump, citing tariff and immigration policies and “divisive” rhetoric out of Washington. Koch group condemns ‘divisiveness’ and ‘lack of leadership’ in Washington:

At a gathering of hundreds of donors at the Broadmoor resort here, officials reiterated their plans to spend as much as $400 million on policy issues and political campaigns during the 2018 cycle. Earlier this year, they announced heavy spending aimed at helping Republicans to hold the Senate. But in a warning shot at Trump and the GOP, network co-chair Brian Hooks lamented “tremendous lack of leadership” in Trump’s Washington and the “deterioration of the core institutions of society.”

He called out the White House and Trump-allied GOP lawmakers, particularly over trade policy and increased federal spending, and added that “the divisiveness of this White House is causing long-term damage.”

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Bailouts are back! This time for GOP-voting farmers in red states hurt by ‘Trump Tariffs’ (bribery for votes) (Updated)

It was just a decade ago that America’s financial system was in a meltdown and the economy headed into a free-fall.

The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was a set of programs created and run by the U.S. Treasury to stabilize the country’s financial system, restore economic growth, and mitigate foreclosures in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. TARP was included in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which included the bailouts for large financial institutions, banks, and eventually Chrysler and GM automakers.

Even as the financial system was in a meltdown and the economy in a free-fall, a majority of Republicans in Congress voted against the TARP bailouts. 73 percent of House Democrats voted in favor of the bailouts, compared to 46 percent of Republicans. Despite prodding from Republican President Bush and Treasury Secretary Paulson, and House Minority Leader John Boehner’s emotional plea to put country first and vote yes, a majority—54 percent—of House Republicans still voted against the bailouts.

Let it burn!

In the Senate, strong majorities of both Democrats (80 percent) and Republicans (69 percent) voted for bailout passage, but with significantly greater Democratic support.

This was the actual birth of the so-called Tea Party movement. The grassroots conservatives who opposed the bailouts later comprised the early Tea Party movement.

Fast forward to today. The Tea Party got the president they wanted in 2016, an abrasive egomaniacal man-child demagogue who promised them a trade war with China.

The trade war that these yahoos voted for is now beginning to adversely impact Republican Party constituencies in red states, i.e., farmers  (agribusinesses). Farmers’ Anger at Trump Tariffs Puts Republican Candidates in a Bind:

As President Trump moves to fulfill one of the central promises of his campaign — to get tough on an ascendant China — he faces a potential rebellion from a core constituency: farmers and other agricultural producers who could suffer devastating losses in a trade war.

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A referendum on democracy itself is on the ballot

Let’s be perfectly clear: if a Democratic president had done what Donald Trump is currently doing in foreign policy, that president would be the subject of an impeachment proceeding right now as we speak. Republicans would have drafted an article of impeachment for treason, without doubt. But as always, IOKIYAR.

David Leonhardt of the New York Times sums it up nicely. Trump Tries to Destroy the West:

President Trump is trying to destroy [the Western] alliance.

Is that how he thinks about it? Who knows. It’s impossible to get inside his head and divine his strategic goals, if he even has long-term goals. But put it this way: If a president of the United States were to sketch out a secret, detailed plan to break up the Atlantic alliance, that plan would bear a striking resemblance to Trump’s behavior.

It would involve outward hostility to the leaders of Canada, Britain, France, Germany and Japan. Specifically, it would involve picking fights over artificial issues — not to win big concessions for the United States, but to create conflict for the sake of it.

A secret plan to break up the West would also have the United States looking for new allies to replace the discarded ones. The most obvious would be Russia, the biggest rival within Europe to Germany, France and Britain. And just as Russia does, a United States intent on wrecking the Atlantic alliance would meddle in the domestic politics of other countries to install new governments that also rejected the old alliance.

Check. Check. Check. Check. Trump is doing every one of these things.

He chose not to attend the full G-7 meeting, in Quebec, this past weekend. While he was there, he picked fights. By now, you’ve probably seen the photograph released by the German government — of Trump sitting down, with eyebrows raised and crossed arms, while Germany’s Angela Merkel and other leaders stand around him, imploring. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, wears a look of defeat.

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Putin’s puppet pays off big at the ‘G6 Plus One’ Summit

Russia’s Vladimir Putin is laughing today at his unimaginable success in undermining America’s role as the leader of the post-war economic order of the liberal western democracies, and undermining the European Union and the Western alliance (and NATO). Putin’s puppet, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, is doing his bidding for him.

What was the G8 Summit until Russia was kicked out after its annexation of Crimea, became the G7 Summit. With Putin’s puppet Donald Trump doing his bidding, it has now become the “G6 plus one” Summit: Allies’ frustration with U.S. mounts ahead of G7 summit:

President Trump is expecting tough talks with U.S. allies Canada, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, and Japan at the G7 summit Friday. Relations are tense after the president put new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from the European Union, Mexico, and Canada. Those nations are threatening new tariffs of their own on U.S. goods. President Trump tweeted Friday morning: “Looking forward to straightening out unfair Trade Deals with the G-7 countries. If it doesn’t happen, we come out even better!”

Mr. Trump’s “America first” mantra has led to policy decisions that have angered U.S. allies. G7 finance ministers met ahead of the summit and described the group as “G6 plus one,” with the U.S. in the rare role of an outlier.

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