Friday, July 6, 2018

Last Call For Trump Trades Blows, Con't

As steep new retaliatory tariffs on US exports to China are now in effect, even the Wall Street Journal is warning that the biggest losers in Trump's trade war with China are the very "economically anxious" people who voted for him in rural, agricultural, mining, fracking, logging and manufacturing counties.

The fallout from President Donald Trump’s tariffs and China’s countertariffs—which formally went into effect on Friday—will have the greatest impact on the U.S. counties that voted Mr. Trump into office.

The U.S. tariffs on China will initially hit about $34 billion of goods, with plans in place to raise that total to $50 billion. The tariffs will fall mostly on Chinese aerospace products, information technology, auto parts and medical instruments. Beijing is retaliating with tariffs on $34 billion of American goods, aimed at farm products, cars and crude oil.

The U.S. tariffs will provide a protective buffer for some companies that compete with Chinese imports, but Beijing’s retaliation will affect huge swaths of the American heartland, according to an analysis from Moody’s Analytics, which calculated how much of gross domestic product in each county is in industries that would benefit from the protection or be hurt by the retaliation.

The retaliatory tariffs will fall especially hard—affecting more than 25% of a county’s economy—in nearly 20% of the counties that voted for Trump, affecting eight million people. Only 3% of the counties that voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton, with a total population of 1.1 million, would be so heavily hit. In contrast, only 8% of counties that voted for Mr. Trump, a Republican, have protective buffers for more than a quarter of their economy.

“The beneficiaries are pretty narrowly regionally concentrated, right in the industrial Midwest. Outside of that, it’s hard to identify anyone who benefits to any significant degree,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics. “The areas that suffer are broader and more diffuse. The agricultural areas get nailed. Some of the manufacturing centers get hurt as well.”

The Trump administration has argued that China engages in unfair trade practices with the U.S. that need to be countered, even at the cost of pain to the U.S. economy.

U.S. regions with more than 25% of their economy affected by the Chinese tariffs are likely to feel a painful fallout if the tariffs remain in effect. Industries such as soybeans in the Great Plains, auto manufacturers in the upper Midwest and oil-producing regions in the Dakotas or Texas will be among the most affected. China imports the most soybeans in the world, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and was the second-biggest destination after Canada for U.S. crude-oil exports in 2017, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

These tariffs will be devastating for states like Texas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Nebraska, Kansas and the Dakotas, but they will also affect red counties in swing states like North Carolina, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida.  Where I live in Northern Kentucky there won't be much effect, but head south into the bluegrass farmlands or the Bourbon Trail and Kentucky too will be taking serious economic damage.

But there's an extremely good chance that the damage will spread and become far worse, leading to economic catastrophe.

Trump's threats to add more tariffs are what really worry business leaders, foreign governments and even fellow Republican officials. He says he's ready to put tariffs on another $400 billion of Chinese products if China punches back yet again, something most expect China to do either with more tariffs or harsher non-tariff barriers to trade like added inspections of cars and letting fruit rot in Chinese ports while it waits for clearance to come ashore.

And his team is investigating whether to place tariffs on the roughly $360 billion auto, truck and car parts that were imported from foreign nations last year. Either of those moves would immediately vault the number of imported goods subject to the extra tax to close to 20 percent, a far steeper hit. If Trump did both, a third of imported goods would be impacted, an amount that would almost certainly be felt when Americans go shopping.

The damage right now is on about 5% of imports to America.  That number could go higher very quickly, and almost certainly will.

So far, the damage from Trump's trade battle has mainly been on the diplomatic side. China says Trump is “opening fire” on its nation, and Canada, a longtime U.S. ally, called the tariffs “insulting” and “totally unacceptable.” The European Union sent the Trump administration a document Friday warning that adding the auto tariffs would “damage further the reputation of the United States.”

No one is backing down yet, and there's almost no high-level dialogue taking place that could bring an end to the standoff.

“The Chinese have a very high threshold for pain. I don’t think they are going to blink because of a little pain,” said Sung Won Sohn, a former economist in the Nixon administration. “After all, China used to be in much worse economic shape.”

So did we.  It's possible that the real pain might not come ahead of November's elections, but if it does, the blue wave will become a tsunami overnight.  When plants and farms start shutting down and truck and SUV prices skyrocket, when consumer prices jump and the cost of gas hits $4 or $5 a gallon?

People will start voting for "change" real damn fast.

Immigration Nation, Con't

Republicans are quick to claim they are "winning" the public opinion debate on immigration because Americans are against people crossing the border illegally, and that Democrats in turn want "open borders", "no enforcement", and even "anarchy" as Trump has blathered on this week on Twitter about.

Americans are broadly against illegal border crossings, especially in border areas, that's true, but the reality is that Trump's handling of immigration is just as unpopular as Trump himself is, as are the specific actions he's taking in the name of "enforcement".

Americans overwhelmingly oppose the Trump administration’s now-rescinded policy of separating immigrant children from their parents, and smaller majorities also disagree with the president’s call to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and to restrict legal immigration by limiting citizens from bringing parents and siblings to this country, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll.

On other aspects of the immigration debate, however, a more mixed picture emerges. Americans are more closely divided on the question of whether enough is being done to prevent illegal immigration and whether the country has gone too far in welcoming immigrants. Also, more people say they trust President Trump than congressional Democrats to deal with the issue of border security. The support for Trump on the border security issue is especially evident in congressional districts considered key battlegrounds in this fall’s midterm elections.

Democrats appear more energized than Republicans about the fall elections, especially in battleground districts. Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independent voters in those districts, 59 percent say the midterms are extremely important, compared with 46 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Overall, registered voters say they prefer to vote for a Democrat over a Republican for the House, 47 percent to 37 percent. The margin on that question is not statistically larger in battleground districts, standing at 12 percentage points.

The nation remains deeply divided along party lines, as it has throughout and before Trump’s presidency. Two other divisions define the political environment of 2018. On issues of immigration, as well as questions about Trump’s presidency, the gaps between men and women and between white voters with and without college degrees are sizable. Women and white college-educated voters are far more dissatisfied with the president and his policies than are men and white voters without college educations. However, gaps based on education are less significant in battleground districts.

Trump’s overall approval stands at 43 percent, while his disapproval is 55 percent. Among men, 54 percent approve; among women, 32 percent approve.

His handling of immigration draws slightly higher disapproval, with 39 percent approving and 59 percent disapproving
. More than twice as many say they strongly disapprove as say they strongly approve. Among men, 51 percent disapprove, but among women, 67 percent disapprove. Among whites with college educations, 68 percent disapprove, but among non-college whites, 56 percent approve.

Approval of Trump's separation policy at the border is a crushing failure for him, only 29% approve.  Even white voters hate it., 65% against and only 33% for.  Hispanic voters are the most opposed, 77-20% against. Independent voters are opposed 74-25%.

Only Republicans think this is a good idea, 61-36% in favor of it.

As far as who is to blame for the separation policy, Trump or immigrants, it's an even split. 37% blame Trump, 35% blame immigrants, and 25% blame both equally.  But there are a lot of splits, men blame immigrants more 43-33% with 23% sharing the blame, while women blame the Trump regime 41-28% with 27% sharing equal blame.

A similar split is among Hispanic respondents, 41-23% blame the Trump regime with 28% sharing the blame, among African-Americans it's also 41%, but a substantial 48% think both the Trump regime and immigrants bear responsibility.  Only 8% of African-Americans blame immigrants solely for Trump's policy, 89% think he shares part or all of the blame.

Any way you look at it, the numbers continue to be bad for Trump and good for Democrats with just four months to go to the midterms.

Thank You For Your Service, Suckers

If there's any doubt left that Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis is still in control of the Pentagon rather than being Trump's lap dog (rather than Mad Dog!) then that just got put to rest with this shameful story.

Some immigrant U.S. Army reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with a promised path to citizenship are being abruptly discharged, the Associated Press has learned.

The AP was unable to quantify how many men and women who enlisted through the special recruitment program have been booted from the Army, but immigration attorneys say they know of more than 40 who have been discharged or whose status has become questionable, jeopardizing their futures.

“It was my dream to serve in the military,” said reservist Lucas Calixto, a Brazilian immigrant who filed a lawsuit against the Army last week. “Since this country has been so good to me, I thought it was the least I could do to give back to my adopted country and serve in the United States military.”

Some of the service members say they were not told why they were being discharged. Others who pressed for answers said the Army informed them they’d been labeled as security risks because they have relatives abroad or because the Defense Department had not completed background checks on them.

Spokespeople for the Pentagon and the Army said that, due to the pending litigation, they were unable to explain the discharges or respond to questions about whether there have been policy changes in any of the military branches.

If you think for a second that the US Army doesn't know why it's discharging recruits, that's complete nonsense.

Eligible recruits are required to have legal status in the U.S., such as a student visa, before enlisting. More than 5,000 immigrants were recruited into the program in 2016, and an estimated 10,000 are currently serving. Most go the Army, but some also go to the other military branches.

To become citizens, the service members need an honorable service designation, which can come after even just a few days at boot camp. But the recently discharged service members have had their basic training delayed, so they can’t be naturalized.

Margaret Stock, an Alaska-based immigration attorney and a retired Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who helped create the immigrant recruitment program, said she’s been inundated over the past several days by recruits who have been abruptly discharged.

All had signed enlistment contracts and taken an Army oath, Stock said. Many were reservists who had been attending unit drills, receiving pay and undergoing training, while others had been in a “delayed entry” program, she said.

“Immigrants have been serving in the Army since 1775,” Stock said. “We wouldn’t have won the revolution without immigrants. And we’re not going to win the global war on terrorism today without immigrants.”

Stock said the service members she’s heard from had been told the Defense Department had not managed to put them through extensive background checks, which include CIA, FBI and National Intelligence Agency screenings and counterintelligence interviews. Therefore, by default, they do not meet the background check requirement.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” she said.

As with the family separations and permanent immigrant detainment/deportation regime that Trump has created, discharging immigrants from the Army is 100% being done on purpose and at Trump's command. 

Did anyone think that a government run by Donald Trump, a man who regularly stiffed customers,  contractors and vendors as a businessman and got away with it, would keep its word?

The people who voted for him do.  Even when they know he's lying to them.
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