Tag Archives: tariffs

Party of Lincoln, then of Reagan, now of Trump

The Party of Lincoln morphed over time into the Party of Reagan.

Now it has become the Party of Trump.

The first men, Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, both defined Republicanism to conform to the spirit of their respective times. President Lincoln sought the party to become a more inclusive body and he fought to preserve the Union. President Reagan instituted a contemporary form of conservatism, one that saw government as part of the problem that afflicted the nation.

Donald Trump? Well, he has taken it somewhere else altogether. It’s an angry political party. He calls himself a “populist,” but flaunts a garish, glitzy lifestyle every weekend he jets off to Mar-a-Lago or to Bedminster. He panders to the religious right while having to live down a past of philandering and obscene behavior.

Now he has gone against traditional Republican policy favoring free trade to something called “fair trade.” He has imposed punishing tariffs on imported goods, prompting our international trading partners to respond with tariffs of their own on goods they import from the United States.

American farmers are getting pounded.

Congressional Republicans, particularly in the Senate, are incensed with the president’s punishing policies. The GOP is at war with itself. House members are backing Trump, seemingly out of some kind of fear that he’ll strike back at them. Senators aren’t so reticent, to which I say, “Good on ya.”

Donald Trump is not your “normal” Republican. I will continue to declare that he is not a Republican at all. He stands only for himself. He demands credit he doesn’t deserve and pushes aside blame that he does deserve.

The president has redefined every parameter one can imagine. His followers say that’s a good thing. The rest of us just shake our heads.

Politico has posted a story on the GOP divide. You can read it here. It will open your eyes.

Trade wars aren’t ‘good,’ really, they aren’t

I believe it was the character Gordon Gekko, portrayed by Michael Douglas, who said in the film “Wall Street” that “Greed … is good.”

That was about three decades ago. These days, we have another character, who happens to be the president of the United States, who is saying that “trade wars are good.”

Well, greed isn’t necessarily good. Trade wars aren’t good, either.

Yet the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, has now officially gone to “war” with China, the world’s second-leading economic powerhouse.

Ladies and gents, we’re all going to pay for this.

Trump has imposed tariffs on Chinese imports. As the New York Times has reported: On Thursday, President Trump showed no signs of backing down from his fight, saying aboard Air Force One that the first wave of tariffs on $34 billion in goods would quickly be followed by levies on another $16 billion of Chinese products. And Mr. Trump continued to threaten Beijing with escalating tariffs on as much as $450 billion worth of Chinese goods.

How are the Chinese going to respond? That remains the open question. According to the Times: “At the moment, I don’t see how this ends,” said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “This is very much in the president’s hands because he’s got advisers that seem divided, some substantively, some tactically. I just don’t think we’ve had any clear signs of the resolution he wants.”

Trump’s war against our traditional allies and trading partners has reached around the world. He’s imposed tariffs on Canada and Mexico, on the European Union and on Great Britain.

Tariff is another word for “tax,” meaning that the tax will add to the cost of producing the goods being shipped. If we’re going to impose these taxes on imported products, then the nation from which they come will respond with tariffs/taxes of their own on the goods that come from the United States.

Think, too, for a moment about the U.S. Labor Department’s report today that non-farm payrolls grew by 213,000 jobs in June. Good news, yes? Of course it is!

Will we continue to experience this continuing job growth if manufacturers no longer can afford to do business in this world of growing tariffs and taxes?

That’s my fear.

Trade wars aren’t good.

Motorcycle maker caught in crossfire

Hey, what’s going on here?

Donald J. Trump said that Harley-Davidson, the iconic motorcycle manufacturer, was going to benefit from his economic policies. The company would flourish from his protectionist measures. The tariffs and all that.

That’s not how it’s playing out.

Harley-Davidson has announced it is moving some of its operations offshore because it doesn’t want to get caught in the crossfire leveled by the European Union, which is retaliating against the president’s tariffs against EU nations.

As the New York Times has reported: Mr. Trump’s trade war is beginning to ripple through the United States economy as companies struggle with a cascade of tariffs here and abroad. While Mr. Trump says his trade policy is aimed at reviving domestic manufacturing, Harley-Davidson’s move shows how the White House approach could backfire as American companies increasingly rely on overseas markets for materials, production and sales.

Harley-Davidson is one of the few American companies that had resisted — until now — the temptation to relocate to sites overseas. They make Harleys in Wisconsin and the president was proud to hail the U.S.-made manufacturer as a beneficiary of the policies he is pursuing.

Of course, the president is distressed that Harley-Davidson would bail as a result of the tariffs and the trade war that has commenced between the United States and the EU. He said Harley-Davidson is using the tariffs as an “excuse.” He wrote in a tweet, according to the NY Times: “Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the White Flag,” he said. “I fought hard for them and ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into the E.U., which has hurt us badly on trade.”

Well, Mr. President, you didn’t fight hard enough, apparently. The trade war has just produced some early casualties.

Nice going. Who’s next?

G-7 meeting ends with anger, outrage

That went well, don’t you think?

Don’t answer that. You know how it went. Donald Trump showed up at the G-7 meeting of economic powerhouse nations in Quebec and proceeded to p** off our nation’s most ardent allies and trading partners.

Then he jetted off to Singapore in advance of his summit with North Korean goofball/dictator Kim Jong Un.

What do you suppose the president is thinking by launching into his tirades against our allies? No need to answer that one, either. I don’t believe the “thinks” anything. He fires from the hip. He relies on “instinct” and “attitude.”

My favorite part of his departure was when he said if our trading partners don’t do what he wants — which is give in to our demands for high tariffs — then he’s going to punish them by refusing to do business with them.

Yep. The president of the nation that possesses the world’s strongest economy is threatening extreme economic punishment on our friends, the nations with which we are allied.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau now is threatening direct retaliation for the tariffs Trump has imposed on steel and aluminum produced in Canada.

I feel all warm and fuzzy. Don’t you?

Oh, and then he tells them that Russia — the nation that swallowed up Crimea and went to war with Ukraine, all before meddling in our 2016 election — deserves a place at the table. He wants the G-7 to become the G-8 again.

This is how you “make America great again,” how you engender “respect” among the rest of the industrialized world?

I do not believe it’s working, Mr. President.

Yep, Trump is a ‘joke’

There he goes again, “telling it like it is” even when it isn’t.

Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a chat the other day, discussing the president’s decision to impose steep tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.

He said the imports present a “national security threat.” Trudeau took serious issue with that assertion, to which Trump said, “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House” during the War of 1812?

Um. No. They didn’t. The British set the White House on fire.

Is this another “joke” that came from the president? If so, and that’s becoming one of the throwaway responses from the White House. someone will have to tell me how the “joke” is relevant to anything.

If it is a joke, then I also will need an explanation as to how the remark is supposed to generate a laugh.

The president already has demonstrated a shocking lack of historical perspective. To his base, that doesn’t matter. He’s “telling it like it is.”

Stupid.

POTUS has weird view of ‘respect’

Donald John Trump keeps telling us how the United States is now “respected” around the world.

Let me think. Is that what the finance ministers of the six other industrialized nations said when they commented on the president’s absurd trade policies? That they really “respect” the United States now that Trump has imposed harsh tariffs on imported goods?

Um, I don’t believe that’s the case.

As the Wall Street Journal reports: The ministers of the six non-U.S. members of the Group of Seven industrialized nations—the host Canada, along with France, Germany, the U.K., Italy and Japan—on Saturday issued a joint statement excluding the U.S., and conveying their “unanimous concern and disappointment” with the U.S. decision last week to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

Respect, eh? Is that what we are getting these days?

Trump’s penchant for protectionism does not breed respect at any level among the other industrialized nations. Indeed, what is laughable on its face is how the president considers U.S.-Canada trade policies as presenting a “national security threat” to the United States. National security threat? Is he kidding?

I believe a serious “national security threat” exists with Russians meddling in our electoral process, which is what happened in 2016 and which well might occur again this year!

Where is the outrage at that threat, Mr.

President?

Instead, Trump decided to vent his anger at a nation whose sons have fought and died alongside our warriors for most of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Shameful.

Trump ‘insults’ Canadians … nice!

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has some strong thoughts about Donald Trump’s decision to impose punishing tariffs on Canadian steel sent to the United States.

He said: “Our soldiers who had fought and died together on the beaches of World War II … and the mountains of Afghanistan, and have stood shoulder to shoulder in some of the most difficult places in the world, that are always there for each other, somehow — this is insulting to them.”

At a personal level, Trudeau has taken serious offense to the president’s curious decision to go to “war” against the nation with which the United States shares the longest unsecured border in the world.

Yes, Canadians fought alongside Americans and Brits at Normandy. Curiously, we are about to honor the D-Day invasion in a few days.

Sure, Trump recognizes the longstanding alliance between the United States and Canada. Then he said our allies are taking advantage of us in trade. His response is to get back at them; impose these tariffs in a classic protectionist move.

Trudeau is looking for some sign of “common sense,” but says he cannot find it in the policy announced by the “U.S. administration.”

Well, Mr. Prime Minister, a lot of Americans are just as confused as you are. Let us know when common sense presents itself.

Trump tariff tirade costs him a top adviser

Gary Cohn had to know what he was getting when he agreed to become Donald John Trump’s chief economic adviser.

He was hiring on to a team led by someone who doesn’t take advice. Trump flies by the backside of his britches. So, when the president decided to impose punishing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, Cohn had seen enough.

He bailed. He’s gone. Cohn has decided t leave Trump’s economic team.

Cohn believes in free trade. Trump the populist believes in protectionism, which on its face flies directly opposite from traditional Republican economic policy.

But that doesn’t matter one damn bit to Donald Trump. He got angry at something or someone, so he decided to take it out on our nation’s trading allies. Canada, Mexico and many friendly trading partners in Western Europe are going to feel the pinch of the tariffs. What’s more, they are discussing retaliation.

Can you say, um, trade war?

As for Cohn, he sought to advise the president against acting so impetuously. Nice try, Mr. Cohn. Again, you had to know the guy for whom you were working was prone to this kind of knee-jerk behavior.

He won’t leave immediately, according to statements issued by Cohn and the White House. What the hell! Why not just hit the road?

According to Politico: Cohn, known in his decades on Wall Street as a pugnacious trader, is not leaving the fight right away. He plans to stay on for at least a couple of weeks and continue to battle Trump and the White House nationalists to more carefully tailor the tariffs to avoid antagonizing allies and inviting retribution.

For all the good it does to surround himself with actual experts on trade policy, Donald Trump will remain his own closest adviser.

Except that he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

It’s true: Trump has stolen the GOP

As if we needed any more evidence on top of the mountain of it that has piled up, Donald Trump’s decision to impose steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum has proved what already has been known.

The president has co-opted the principles of the party under which he was elected. He is no more of a “Republican” than, um, I am.

And I am not.

What we have here is a man who has turned the Republican Party into the Trump Party. The right and far-right wing of the GOP stands behind this man — even though this protectionist trade policy flies in the face of traditional Republican principle.

This is a dangerous trend, folks.

I believe we are witnessing — and this is not an original thought; I didn’t think of this — the development of a “cult of personality.” This is the kind of tag one usually associates with dictators and despots.

Kim Jong Un? Pol Pot? Fidel Castro? Hugo Chavez? Francisco Franco? Adolf Hitler? Benito Mussolini? Juan Peron?

Is the president of the United States a despot and dictator in the mold of those men? No. However, I believe it is a legitimate concern that he has perverted the principles of a once-great political party and turned them into a political tactic.

I cannot pre-determine what Donald Trump has in store for the party for as long as he is president. I do believe that we are witnessing an evolution of sorts. The most fervent Republicans in this country should be aghast at the trade war that Trump seems willing to launch. Instead, they are standing by their man.

If that doesn’t define a cult of personality, then I don’t know what does. It’s a very good thing, indeed, to have two other co-equal government branches — Congress and the federal courts — on board to keep the president’s power grab in check.

But still … this is frightening.

Donald Trump: trade protectionist

Just how many more somersaults can the contemporary political structure endure?

There once was a time when Republicans hated tariffs and taxes; they called it protectionism. They were free trade advocates. Let the market determine all things involving trade, they would say.

Democrats invoked trade protectionism because their union movement allies insisted on it. They believed tariffs on imported goods protected domestically produced material. They were the champions of U.S.-made goods and commodities.

What in the name of free trade is going on here?

The nation’s top Republican, Donald John Trump has just announced steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. The GOP president has imposed a policy long favored by those hated Democrats.

So, how have the markets responded? Badly. Wall Street tanked again today on that news, with the Dow Jones average plunging more than 500 points, before closing at just a little less than 500 points in the red.

Tariffs are taxes. The result is that the price of the goods being imported is going to increase. I also thought rampant inflation once was considered a bad economic trend. Wasn’t it? Isn’t it still?

Me? I am a free trader. I like the North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA opened this hemisphere to free trade among the United States, Canada and Mexico. Trump doesn’t like NAFTA. It’s that “populist” theme on which he campaigned for president in 2016.

This brings to mind a curious question for me: How does this president hang on to such strong Republican support when his economic policies — such as they are — run counter to traditional GOP principles?

It’s all gone topsy-turvy. I can’t keep my balance.