Tag Archives: trade policy

Trump turns ‘fealty’ into a litmus test for GOP candidates

So … just how weird has the political climate gotten in the Age of Donald John Trump?

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, the lone Republican (so far) to call for the president’s impeachment, has just quit the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus. It’s not that Amash doesn’t fit the conservative mold for the Freedom Caucus. It’s because he doesn’t bow at the sound of Donald Trump’s name.

As Politico reports: Amash “faces a far more uncertain political future in the age of Trump, in which fealty to the president has often become a litmus test for the GOP.”

But here’s what I don’t quite grasp. Trump isn’t a true-blue Republican. His trade tariffs send “establishment Republicans” into orbit. The president has developed a classic “protectionist” trade policy that used to be popular among pro-union political progressives. Trump has slathered this policy under a coating of “putting America first,” which played well on the 2016 campaign trail. He was able to sucker enough voters to get him elected.

Trump has gone soft on Russia, the traditional adversary of U.S. geopolitical interests and the bogeyman among Republicans.

Donald Trump upset the political equation in a major way three years ago just by winning the presidency. Now he has captured the GOP and turned it into something few of us recognize.

Justin Amash once was thought to be a traditional libertarian conservative. He’s now an outlier among the GOP. Why? Because he cannot stand by idly while the president obstructs justice.

Go figure.

Two years later, Trump still making no sense on trade

I posted a blog item nearly two years ago wondering if Donald Trump knew a damn thing about trade policy.

My conclusion, based on what I understood from a speech he gave in Bangor, Maine, was that he was clueless.

I must maintain that conclusion today.

Incoherence on trade policy …

Now that he is president of the United States, Trump has decided to impose steep and punishing tariffs on imported goods from two of our nation’s most vital trading partners: Canada and Mexico.

The Republican president has trashed the North American Free Trade Agreement, which includes the United States and, yes, Canada and Mexico. NAFTA was intended to forgo the kind of protectionist tariffs that governments impose on other nations.

The concept of “free trade” is to allow goods and commodities to flow among participating countries. To that end, I long have believed NAFTA was doing as it was intended.

Yet the president took office after promising to re-do NAFTA. I don’t know the basis of his disagreement with the agreement, except that he says the United States is wallowing in some sort of deepening “trade deficit” with our primary trading partners.

Now he’s calling Canada — Canada, I tell ya! — a threat to our “national security.” Does this guy, the president, know anything — about anything?

Two years ago, in Maine, Trump told us he favored free trade; then in the same speech, he said he opposed it.

His nonsensical approach to trade has not abated one bit now that he has taken an oath to serve as the head of state of our great nation.

This is what we acquired when Donald Trump got elected?

Holy cow, man!

Trade policy: the great unspoken at VP debate

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Is it me or did one of Donald J. Trump’s signature issues in this presidential campaign go unnoticed?

I refer to the issue of trade policy.

The Republican presidential nominee has declared ad nauseam that the North American Free Trade Agreement is one of the “worst trade deals in history.” He has opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He has vowed to renegotiate NAFTA immediately upon taking office next January.

Neither of the two men who are running for vice president, Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, talked about trade policy.

In fairness to the candidates, moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News didn’t ask either of them about trade policy.

The question I would have wanted her to pose would have been to Pence. It would go something like this:

“Gov. Pence, you are a traditional Republican. You served in Congress as a traditional Republican lawmaker and your party has been a free-trade party. Why have you changed your mind on NAFTA and why do you oppose TPP?”

She could have asked Pence that question, but she didn’t.

Pence has a long career as a traditional Republican conservative as a lawmaker and as a governor. Trump has no public service career and he has sounded as populist on trade as, say, Sen. Bernie Sanders.

This debate between Kaine and Pence could have helped clear up some of the confusion on trade that Trump has created with his ferocious opposition to trade policy that many within his party have supported.

Only now, Kaine opposes TPP

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This is an element of this vice-presidential selection process I find distasteful.

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia has been a strong supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal favored by President Obama and others within the Democratic Party.

Now, though, Kaine is about to perform a 180-degree switcheroo and will oppose the TPP as a sop to Democratic Party progressives who might be unhappy with Hillary Clinton’s selection of Kaine as her running mate.

So, which is it, Sen. Kaine? Are you for the deal or against it … on principle?

What changed in the TPP treaty that caused him to turn himself inside out?

Oh, nothing! Politics got in the way.

http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/288971-kaine-will-come-out-against-tpp-report

Politicians do this kind of so-called “pivot” all the time. My favorite example has been George H.W. Bush flipping from pro-choice on abortion to pro-life the instant he agreed to run in 1980 with Ronald Reagan.

Kaine is about to become another politician who seems willing to demonstrate that principle — on many issues — matters less than political expediency.

This is how you ‘unify’ the GOP? Hardly

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I just heard Donald J. Trump say two things during his rambling stream-of-consciousness rant in Bangor, Maine that tell me he’s declaring war on his political party.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee said (a) that he’s going to tear up the Trans-Pacific Partnership and will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and (b) that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a gang of goons run by special interests.

Wow!

Standard GOP orthodoxy endorses free trade. Trump does not.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been a traditional, deep-pocketed ally of Republican presidential candidates. Trump has no use for the Chamber.

So, what does this mean?

To me it means that Trump is kicking dirt in the face of the very political infrastructure he will need if he is going to have a prayer of defeating Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

What about this am I missing?

If the GOP’s presidential nominee is going to adhere to party philosophy, isn’t it time for him to at least give some lip service that endorses the views of the architects of that philosophy?

Well, hey, he said he could “go it alone” if he needed to.

It looks to me  as though the nominee is going to have a lonely march toward political oblivion.