Tag Archives: trade war

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.

Build that wall … up north!

Leave it to Fox News’s Shepard Smith to add a peculiar twist to the burgeoning war of words between Donald J. Trump and Justin Trudeau.

The news anchor wondered out loud whether we need to build a wall along our northern border with Canada, to complement the wall Trump wants to build along our southern border with Mexico.

Trump left the G-7 summit in Quebec after leveling threats against our major trading partners. He and the Canadian prime minister got into a particularly angry exchange, with Trump accusing Trudeau of double-crossing him after he left the summit.

Trudeau responded with threats of retaliation against the United States over the tariffs Trump has leveled against Canadian steel and aluminum. A Trump economic adviser, Peter Navarro, said there is a “special place in hell” for anyone who stabs the president “in the back.”

As the Daily Beast reported: “Our biggest trading partner in all the world, our best friend from way back in World War II and every time in between, Canada” Smith added, laughing for a moment before dropping this suggestion: “Maybe we need a Northern wall.”

Do you get my drift here?

Trump announced his presidential campaign by declaring that Mexico is “sending rapists, murderers and drug dealers” into our country. He said he would wall off the country from Mexico and make the Mexican government pay for it.

Is there another such threat awaiting the Canadians now if Trump and Trudeau keep exchanging heated insults across the world’s longest unsecured border?

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.

Good news, then a trade war … nice!

Donald J. Trump has just managed to piddle on his own good-news report. This is weird, man.

The U.S. Labor Department this morning released some seriously positive news: 233,000 non-farm jobs were added to the payrolls in May, which is greater than what economists expected; the nation’s jobless rate fell to 3.8 percent, the lowest rate since 2000.

We’re cheering the news! Yes, the economy is showing signs of rocking along. The president deserves his share of credit for the serious uptick in employment activity.

But … wait!

The previous day, the president announced a huge tariff on imported steel and other goods. Who’s going to get slapped with this protectionist measure? Our major trading partners and allies: Canada, Mexico, the European Union.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a statement this week about how this policy might make sense to someone in Washington but at this moment he cannot figure out what Trump is trying to do.

I’m not an economist, but I know enough about global economics to understand that trade wars rarely produce winners. Everyone loses. The cost of manufacturing items goes up because companies — that are in the business for make maximum profit — must increase the price of what they produce to cover the cost of sending it to trading partners.

Who pays the cost? You do. So do I.

This is classic protectionist policy, favored by union leaders who understandably want to protect their members’ jobs against foreign competitors.

Free trade? It’s out the window, flushed down the crapper, tossed onto the trash heap.

I’m still unclear about what Trump is trying to do.

I’m delighted with the jobs report. The trade war might tamp down a lot of our enthusiasm.

Goofy.

Donald Trump: RINO in chief

Donald J. Trump keeps proving that he’s a Republican In Name Only, but the real Republicans aren’t buying it. They remain attached to this guy as if it doesn’t what he says or does.

A trillion-dollar-plus infrastructure plan? Is that “fiscal conservatism”? Hardly.

How about the latest example? He has imposed protectionist tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. Classic Republican ideology is supposed to oppose this kind of classic liberal protectionism. For the record, I am a free trade advocate, even though I am no GOP guy.

We keep hearing the roar of potential trade wars developing between the United States and our leading trading partners. China? Mexico? Canada? Western Europe? There might be retaliatory measures enacted to respond to the president’s desire to “protect American jobs.”

The president is a classic, categorical RINO. There can be no denying that he is the RINO in chief. I just cannot understand how his “base” keeps insisting he’s the real deal, when he clearly is not!

I have accepted the notion that Trump is succeeding in reshaping the Republican Party into a party of his own making, his own definition and of his own “ideology” — if we can just figure out what it is.

The president’s penchant for disclosing policy via tweet creates even more chaos than he brings simply through his revolving-door personnel changes. He is inclined to say one thing via Twitter, then change his mind when he talks to someone — anyone! — with a different point of view.

A true Republican — as well as a true Democrat — would stick to a set of governing principles and then perhaps tinker around the edges in the quest for common ground with the other party.

Trump’s trade war threats and constant berating of his foes tell me he doesn’t stand for the principles under the party banner on which he was elected to the presidency.

Trump must have been sleeping in trade-policy class

Didn’t the president of the United States, Donald John “Smart Person” Trump learn a thing while getting his economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania?

Someone surely must have taught those econ students about the consequences of trade wars, of how badly many of those conflicts can go. If so, then what was Donald Trump doing when his prof offered that counsel? Was he asleep? Was he skipping class that day, spending his time chasing women and grabbing them in their private parts?

Trump reportedly got so out of sorts that he announced a decision to impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. Then he said that winning a trade would be “so easy.”

So easy? Is he out of what passes for his mind?

Trump has declared economic war on our closest allies. They are, oh let’s see, Canada, Mexico, Germany and Great Britain. Yet he seeks to punish China because, according to the president, they have stolen jobs from U.S. steelmakers.

He now is making mainstream Republican officeholders — those who adhere to the party’s policy of free trade and its opposition to protectionism — queasy in the extreme.

Trump’s decision has sent the stock market into a frenzy of unpredictability.

He thinks he knows what he is doing. Analysts who actually do know something about international economics and its impact on geopolitics have a different view.

They say the president doesn’t know a damn thing. He is acting out of pique. He doesn’t listen to the advice of economic advisers he has gathered around him — folks like the Treasury secretary and the head of his Government Economics Council — who oppose this tariff nonsense.

Hey, he told us in the summer of 2016 that “I, alone” can repair what he thinks ails the country. No, Mr. President. You, alone are making a shambles of our economic alliances.

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.

POTUS ‘tells it like it is’ abroad

Donald J. Trump’s supporters like to say the president merely “tells it like it is.”

Others of us prefer to say he tells it like he thinks it is.

He is abroad, finishing up his first overseas trip as president and he’s managing — as only the president — to demonstrate a stunning lack of diplomatic skill.

Get this, his assessment of Germany, one of our nation’s strongest allies and trading partners: “The Germans are bad, very bad,” he said. “See the millions of cars they are selling to the U.S. Terrible. We will stop this.”

What? Stop it. How? He wants to start a trade war with Germany because it peddles cars to American consumers?

Vox.com is a known liberal-leaning website, but it offers an interesting analysis of how Trump’s lack of diplomatic skill is hurting him and the country he represents.

https://www.vox.com/world/2017/5/26/15698824/trump-germany-bad-trade-cars

As Vox reports: “First, it’s worth noting that the language Trump reportedly used in the meeting is yet another example of his total lack of nuance or finesse. Trump likes to cast the world in black and white and use superlative language. Things are ‘terrific,’ or they are ‘terrible.’

“Trump speaks this way on domestic issues as well, but in international affairs his vulgarity as a speaker is amplified. Diplomacy requires gentle touches and subtle signaling that simultaneously maintains stable relationships while having the power to pressure or persuade. Slamming the Germans, a vital US ally, as ‘very bad’ and saying you need to ‘Stop’ them from selling cars to the US is, well, the opposite of that.”

Vox also notes that German automakers also operate many manufacturing plants in the United States, employing Americans and paying them well to produce these motor vehicles.

That the president wouldn’t recognize that is just another sign of his complete ignorance about the world and the inter-connectedness among nations.