Saturday, May 11, 2019

Trump Trades Blows, Con't

With tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese imports going from 10% to 25% and new tariffs coming on another $300 billion in goods from Beijing, it's the American people who will be on the hook for billions in new taxes, and Trump is lying about every word of China picking up the tab. The NYT editorial board:

President Trump’s new tariffs on Chinese imports, which took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, are taxes that will be paid by Americans. That is a simple fact, and it remains true no matter how many times Mr. Trump insists the money will come from China.

Mr. Trump’s latest escalation of his trade fight with China is a 25 percent tariff, or import tax, on products that compose about one third of China’s exports to the United States, including Chinese bicycles, circuit boards and wooden doors. The tariff rate on those goods was previously 10 percent. Mr. Trump also has threatened to impose the 25 percent rate on virtually all products imported from China — more than $500 billion in goods last year.

Mr. Trump could make an honest case for this tax increase. He could argue that Americans must endure higher prices because China will suffer too — while China does not bear the direct cost of the tariffs, it is likely to suffer a loss of sales — and the United States needs that leverage as it presses China to change its economic policies.

Instead, Mr. Trump continues to repeat the false claim that the money will come from China, even though he has been told repeatedly that this claim has no basis in fact. He is willfully peddling a falsehood for political gain.

The mechanics of tariffs are not complicated: The government sends a tax bill to the company that brings goods into the country. Most of those tax bills go to American companies, often import firms that specialize in dealing with the customs process.

It doesn’t really matter who gets the bill, however. The important question is where the money to pay it comes from. And in broad terms, there are only two options: It comes either from the firms that make, move and sell the products or from the pockets of the buyers.

Consider the case of washing machines. In January 2018, Mr. Trump imposed a tariff on washing machines, initially at a rate of 20 percent. The tariff caused a 12 percent increase in the price of washing machines, according to a study by economists at the Federal Reserve and the University of Chicago. It also resulted in a similar increase in the price of dryers. Americans responded by buying more domestic washing machines, creating about 1,800 new jobs. But the cost of the tariffs was borne entirely by American consumers. The study estimated that each of those new jobs came at a cost of more than $815,000.

And retaliatory tariffs are killing American farmers, who are already having a brutally bad year due to record Midwestern flooding. But Trump blaming China is working.  Farmers are rallying aroundthe flag just like in any other stupid, pointless GOP-caused war.

In Shelby County, Ind., Phil Ramsey said he appreciated the president’s reasons for revisiting trade deals, but said the ailing farm economy had been brutal in deeply personal ways. He said he was going without health insurance to save money. He said he has delayed some equipment purchases.

“I was very patient a year ago,” said Mr. Ramsey, who grows corn, soybeans and wheat. “I’ve gone from being very patient to being very anxious.”

But Mr. Ramsey, a Republican who voted for the president, said his primary frustrations were with China, which the United States accused of reneging on some trade promises, and with Congress, which has not approved a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

“He can’t do it by himself,” Mr. Ramsey said of the president. “He needs the support of all the U.S. government.”

The lack of a trade deal was especially painful in Nebraska, which saw widespread damage from flooding in March. The damage there, as well as in parts of Missouri and Iowa, has turned cropland into debris fields and forced some farmers to evaluate whether they could continue making a living off the land.

“It’s a little bit of piling on when you have so many different things that you’re struggling against,” said Steve Nelson, the president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau. “Obviously, the trade issue is one of those. The weather is one of those.”

Lance Atwater, 29, who farms corn and soybeans near Ayr, Neb., escaped the worst of the flooding but said that he has seen prices for some of his crops plunge. Mr. Atwater, a Republican who voted for Mr. Trump, said he was eager for a trade deal but taking a wait-and-see approach on the president’s policies.

“He’s claimed that he’ll get these trade deals worked out and that it will be a better deal,” Mr. Atwater said on Friday as he hauled grain. “That’s what we’re wanting to see — see those results
Jerry Mohr, 66, a fourth-generation farmer who grows corn and soybeans near Eldridge, Iowa, said he was growing frustrated.

“I admire the president for wanting to make change,” said Mr. Mohr, a Republican who voted for Mr. Trump, “but now we need to perform.”

He said the president’s success in finalizing trade deals, as well as expanding ethanol production, would help determine what happens in next year’s election.

“If the president comes through on what he says he was going to do, it would be hard for him to lose,” Mr. Mohr said. “If he doesn’t, it’s going to be hard for him to win.

US farms are going to get wrecked over the next 18 months.  But they'll blame China and Mexico and Congress and not the guy imposing a brutal trade war that will wipe out farms across the country.  Really, the only question is how many taxpayer billions farmers will get from the government to help them through this tough time, but don't you dare call it socialism.

And in November of next year, they'll vote for Trump again.

It's All About Revenge Now, Con't

Trump no longer cares about the appearance of his criminality and is openly announcing to the world that's he's doing illegal things because he believes that nobody in this country can or will stop him. Whether or not he's right is the real argument now.

Within a day of the release of the Mueller report last month, President Trump sought to have former White House counsel Don McGahn declare he didn’t consider the president’s 2017 directive that he seek Robert Mueller’s dismissal to be obstruction of justice, but Mr. McGahn rebuffed the request, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Trump has publicly denied asking Mr. McGahn to fire the Russia probe special counsel since the release of the report. Mr. Mueller’s report detailed that directive, and a subsequent request by Mr. Trump that Mr. McGahn deny that conversation ever happened, and said that Mr. McGahn rebuffed both. Last month, Mr. Trump tweeted: “If I wanted to fire Mueller, I didn’t need McGahn to do it, I could have done it myself.”

Privately, Mr. Trump asked White House special counsel Emmet Flood to inquire whether Mr. McGahn would release a statement asserting that he didn’t believe those interactions with the president—and Mr. Trump’s subsequent efforts to have Mr. McGahn deny news reports about that request—amounted to obstruction, the people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Flood didn’t respond to a request for comment.

William Burck, a lawyer for Mr. McGahn, said in a statement about the request: “We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister. It was a request, professionally and cordially made.”

Mr. McGahn turned down the request because he didn’t want to weigh in on the totality of evidence in the report beyond his own testimony, and didn’t want to comment on his own testimony in isolation, the people said. Mr. McGahn also didn’t view his personal opinion as relevant, because Attorney General William Barr had already said he didn’t believe the evidence in Mr. Mueller’s report amounted to obstruction of justice, the people said.

Mr. Flood, as he sought the statement from Mr. McGahn, pointed to previous assertions by Mr. Burck that if Mr. McGahn believed Mr. Trump had committed a crime, he would have resigned his post, the people said.

Obstruction of justice is just baked in to the normalization process.  And the corruption will continue through the 2020 campaign and beyond.

President Donald Trump told POLITICO on Friday that it would be “appropriate” for him to speak to Attorney General Bill Barr about launching an investigation into his potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden, or his son, Hunter.

The question of whether Trump could pressure Barr to probe Biden is coming under scrutiny after Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, said he would be traveling to Ukraine to urge the incoming government there to look at Hunter Biden’s involvement with a Ukrainian energy company that has reportedly been in prosecutors’ crosshairs. The efforts appear to be part of a broader campaign by Trump’s allies to damage the former Democratic vice president’s White House campaign and have raised questions about whether Trump’s team is trying to enlist a foreign government to aid the president’s re-election bid.

Certainly it would be an appropriate thing to speak to him about, but I have not done that as of yet. … It could be a very big situation,” Trump said in a 15-minute telephone interview on Friday afternoon, which stemmed from POLITICO’s inquiries for a separate story.

Barr also drew attention during his recent congressional testimony when he demurred on a question about whether anybody in the White House had ever suggested that he launch an investigation.

The two Bidens’ connections to Ukraine have become a subject of deep interest among the president’s political allies, who charge that Biden as vice president pressured the Ukrainian government to oust a prosecutor in order to benefit his son. The Ukrainian prosecutor had reportedly faced allegations of ignoring corruption among Ukraine’s business and political elite. No evidence has emerged that Joe Biden was acting to assist his son, and it is not clear that the official was probing the company at the time.

I mean at this point Trump is giving away the plot because like a pulp villain, he doesn't believe the heroes can stop it from happening.  He's absolutely announcing that it's "appropriate" to have "his" Attorney General open an investigation into the 2020 frontrunner opponent.

We'll see if he's right.
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