Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Last Call For Trumped At The Pump

After 8 years of dealing with President Obama and an America that was going away from oil, OPEC suddenly has Trump and now knows it can leverage oil production to start turning the screws on US consumers.

OPEC clinched a deal to curtail oil supply, confounding skeptics as the need to clear a record global crude glut -- and prove the group’s credibility -- brought about its first cuts in eight years. 
OPEC will reduce production by 1.2 million barrels a day to 32.5 million a day, two delegates said Wednesday during a ministerial meeting in Vienna, asking not to be identified as the decision isn’t yet public. Benchmark Brent crude rose 8 percent to $50.07 a barrel in London at 1:37 p.m. local time. 
After weeks of often tense negotiations, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ three biggest producers -- Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran -- resolved differences over sharing the burden of cuts. Notably, it appears the Saudis accepted that Iran, as a special case, can raise production to about 3.9 million barrels a day. The agreement is also likely to include an additional reduction of about 600,000 barrels a day by non-OPEC countries. 
“This should be a wake-up call for skeptics who have argued the death of OPEC,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd. “The group wants to push inventories down.” 
The deal promises to revive the tattered finances of countries from Venezuela to Libya and restore flagging confidence in the producer bloc that controls 40 percent of the world’s oil. But the consequences will reverberate far beyond OPEC, giving a boost to U.S. shale drillers crippled by a two-year price rout and oil giants such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which have cut spending to the bone to weather the prolonged downturn.

So the countries Trump has repeatedly criticized during his campaign like Iran, Venezuela and Libya stand to benefit the most from a new, more muscular OPEC.  Like it or not, the global energy trade war that Trump all but promised is on, and rising oil and gas prices are just the first step.

Trump will of course look to retaliate by wrecking the environment to put new drilling and fracking everywhere in the US in order to try to boost production instead of beating OPEC at their own game as Obama has and lowering demand through alternative energy. He played hardball.

Trump on the other hand just helped his Saudi buddies make billions off of US consumers, and then there's the biggest non-OPEC economic winner when the price of oil goes up: Russia.  It's almost like there's a pattern here, guys.

So we'll have an oil price war AND global warming accelerating.  Won't that be fun?

Oversight Is Over And Out

House GOP Oversight Committee chair Rep. Jason Chaffetz, robbed of spending four years of persecution of Hillary Clinton by a Trump win, has no plans whatsoever to even lift a finger to look at The Donald's actual conflicts of interest and open boasts of kleptocracy.

Back in October, Representative Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight Committee, had big plans for 2017. After leading the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, he positioned himself to be President Clinton’s greatest foe in Congress, bragging to the Washington Post that he would spend the next four years probing her alleged misdeeds. 
“It’s a target-rich environment,” Chaffetz said. “Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.” 
Even after the election, Chaffetz said he had a “duty and obligation” to continue investigating the former secretary of State. However, he claimed his committee would investigate President-elect Trump with equal fervor. “I am optimistic that a Trump administration would actually be cooperative,” Chaffetz said. “The Obama administration has given us the stiff arm every single step of the way. I think a new administration would actually work with us to quickly get to the truth, learn what we need to learn and then fix it.” 
It’s unclear why Chaffetz thinks the candidate who refused Chaffetz’s call to release his tax returns will be more responsive as president, but so far the Utah congressman isn’t even asking for a response.

Amid staggering evidence of Trump’s conflicts of interest — from letting the manager of his blind trust sit in on meetings with foreign dignitaries to allowing his D.C. hotel to court foreign diplomats — Chaffetz has ignored calls to launch an investigation into the president-elect.

And he will continue to ignore them, and he will be rewarded with easy reelection in a Utah district that he won by 46 points just three weeks ago, and he will remain House Oversight Committee chair.

And nobody will care.  Anyone who thought for a moment that Chaffetz was ever going to investigate Trump is nearly as much of a problem with our political system as Chaffetz himself is.  The next four years will be brutal, blood-soaked payback against the Obama coalition in an effrot to make sure Democrats never hold power again.

Jason Chaffetz won't even begin to interfere with that.

America's Coming Labor Pains

Politico is reporting that Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Lou Barletta is up for Labor Secretary, and judging from his record he'll be no friend of America's workers.

According to a transition pool report, Barletta said that he and President-elect Donald Trump “talked about the secretary of labor.” When asked whether he was interested in the position, Barletta said, “I’m going to consider what we talked about.”

Barletta is a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and would likely roll back key Obama administration regulations. In September, he backed a proposal to delay the Labor Department’s final overtime rule by six months, calling it ‘“ill-considered." (A Texas judge issued a preliminary injunction against the rule last week.)

In addition, Barletta opposed the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, which requires broker-dealers to consider only their clients’ best interest when providing retirement advice. In April, Barletta voted to block the rule under the Congressional Review Act. (The measure did not pass.)

Barletta is vocal on immigration issues. He was a signatory to an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case challenging President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive actions extending deferred action to undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and expanded deferred action for undocumented children. Barletta also supported legislation passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that penalized so-called sanctuary cities that did not comply with federal law enforcement.

“Sanctuary cities provide refuge for illegal immigrants, drain local resources, and contribute to an increase in crime,” he said in a statement. “ This bill says that sanctuary cities can no longer operate with impunity and holds them accountable for their own actions and the behavior of the illegal immigrants they are sheltering.”

Ragerdless of who's in charge of the department, I'd expect whoever it is to rail against immigrants, Obamacare, and the minimum wage.  Barletta, coming from coal country in the Keystone State, seems like the perfect front man for Trump's coming deregulatory push that will almost certainly reverse worker protections under the Obama administration.

Barletta entered politics in 1999, when he became Mayor of Hazelton, Pennsylvania. He held the office until 2010. Barletta, who was born there, became nationally known as one of the toughest politicians on illegal immigration, a reputation that must have impressed Trump. He even vowed to make the city “one of the toughest places in the United States” for illegal immigrants.

In 2006, Barletta and the Hazelton City Council made it illegal for all illegal immigrants in the city to rent homes or work there. As the the Washington Post notes, the act also made English the city’s official language and banned employees from translating documents without authorization.

“I see illegal immigrants picking up and leaving — some Mexican restaurants say business is off 75 percent,” Barletta told the Post in 2006. “The message is out there.”

In July 2007, a Federal District court Judge struck down the ordinance, ruling that it interfered with federal laws on immigration and the due process of employers.

“Whatever frustrations officials of the City of Hazleton may feel about the current state of immigration enforcement, the nature of the political system in the United States prohibits the city from enacting ordinances that disrupt a carefully drawn federal statutory scheme,” Judge James M. Munley wrote in his ruling, reports the New York Times.

“I will not sit back because the federal government has refused to do its job,” Baretta vowed after the ruling. However, the ruling was upheld in 2010 by the U.S. Court of Appeals.

So yeah, a loud and virulent critic of "illegals" will almost certainly be offered the job of Labor Secretary.  His job will almost certainly be to justify measures to "clean up" the workforce.  Whether or not Trump and Barletta decide to take aim at employers who make billions every year by knowingly hiring undocumented workers and not paying taxes on them, well I wouldn't hold your breath on that.


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