Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Last Call For Trump Trades Blows, Con't

Donald Trump has effectively killed the Paris Climate Accords, neutered the UN, all but cratered NATO, and now he has murdered the World Trade Organization.

The United States has spent two years chipping away at the World Trade Organization, criticizing it as unfair, starving it of personnel and disregarding its authority, as President Trump seeks to upend the global trade system.

This week, the Trump administration is expected to go one step further and effectively cripple the organization’s system for enforcing its rules — even as Mr. Trump’s widening trade war has thrown global commerce into disarray and another tariff increase on Chinese goods set for next weekend could send markets reeling.

Over the past two years, Washington has blocked the W.T.O. from appointing new members to a crucial panel that hears appeals in trade disputes. Only three members are left on the seven-member body, the minimum needed to hear a case, and two members’ terms expire on Tuesday. With the administration blocking any new replacements, there will be no official resolution for many international trade disputes.

The loss of the world’s primary trade referee could turn the typically deliberate process of resolving international disputes into a free-for-all, paving the way for an outbreak of tit-for-tat tariff wars.

It could also signal the demise of the 24-year-old World Trade Organization itself, since the system for settling disputes has long been its most effective part.

“The W.T.O. is facing its deepest crisis since its creation,” Phil Hogan, the European trade commissioner, told members of the European Parliament this year. If the rules governing international trade can no longer be enforced, “we’d have the law of the jungle.”

Mr. Trump has already embraced that scenario, wielding America’s economic power to press for better trade terms. He has sidestepped W.T.O. rules by imposing metal tariffs on allies like Canada, Europe and Japan, and by adding punishing levies to Chinese goods, prompting appeals to the global body for relief.

The president and his top advisers have long viewed the W.T.O. as an impediment to Mr. Trump’s promise to put “America First.” They say the organization, which insists that all of its members receive equal treatment, has prevented the United States from protecting its workers and exerting its influence as the world’s most powerful economy. They have also criticized the W.T.O. for emboldening China — whose economy boomed after it became a member in 2001 — while doing little to curb Beijing’s unfair trade practices.

The WTO is done.  It has no enforcement power and no dispute-resolution ability, because Donald Trump killed it all.  It's toast.

If we don't get rid of Trump in 2020, if he's re-elected, then the rest of the world will give up on us and they will start taking punitive action against us as befitting the rogue state we are.  As bad as this decade was at the end, the 20's are going to be far, far worse.

The Reach To Impeach, Con't

The impeachment of Donald Trump is moving forward rapidly now, with House Democrats moving to bring two articles of impeachment against him by the end of the week.

House Democrats announced on Tuesday that they would move ahead this week with two articles of impeachment charging President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, as they accused him of violating the Constitution by pressure Ukraine for help in the 2020 election.

Speaking from a wood-paneled reception room just off the floor of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and leaders of six key committees said that Mr. Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, and his efforts to block Congress’s attempt to investigate, had left them no choice but to pursue one of the Constitution’s gravest remedies. The move will bring a sitting president to the brink of impeachment for only the fourth time in American history.

“Today, in service to our duty to the Constitution, and to our country, the House Committee on Judiciary is introducing two articles of impeachment charging the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, with committing high crimes and misdemeanors,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the panel’s chairman. He stood before four American flags and a portrait of George Washington.

“Our president holds the ultimate public trust,” Mr. Nadler said. “When he betrays that trust and puts himself before country, he endangers the Constitution, he endangers our democracy, and he endangers our national security.” 
The announcement comes a day after Democrats summed up the central allegations in their impeachment case against Mr. Trump: that he pressured Ukraine to announce investigations into his political rivals while withholding as leverage a coveted White House meeting for its president and $391 million in critical security assistance. His actions, they argued in a lengthy hearing at the Judiciary Committee, had placed the president’s personal political interests above those of the country, threatening the integrity of the election and national security in the process.

After more than two months of investigating the Ukraine matter, and a year of confrontation between the Democratic House and Mr. Trump, the impeachment process is now likely to unfold quickly. The Judiciary Committee plans to promptly begin debating the articles as soon as Wednesday, and could vote by Thursday to recommend them to the full House of Representatives for final approval. If the House follows through as expected next week, Mr. Trump could stand trial in the Senate early in the new year.
The Judiciary Committee planned to publicly release text of the articles later on Tuesday. While individual lawmakers will be able to propose amendments to the articles during this week’s debate and potentially force a committee vote on additional charges, they are not expected to substantively change.

By this time next week, Donald Trump could be impeached.

History is being made.  What the results of that history will be, even I'm not sure.

Firehose-Up Economics

Greg Sargent zeroes in on income inequality in America and finds that while wages for working-class Americans has gone up 50% in 50 years, in those same 50 years the wealthy have gotten massive gifts from lawmakers and the tax code.

The triumph of the rich, which is one of the defining stories of our time, is generally described as largely the reflection of two factors. The first, of course, is the explosion of income among top earners, in which a tiny minority has vacuumed up a ballooning share of the gains from the past few decades of economic growth.

The second factor — which will be key to the 2020 presidential race — has been the hidden decline in the progressivity of the tax code at the top, in which the wealthiest earners have over those same decades seen their effective tax rates steadily fall.

Put those two factors together, and they tell a story about soaring U.S. inequality that is in some ways even more dramatic than each is on its own.

A new analysis prepared at my request by Gabriel Zucman — the French economist and “wealth detective” who has become famous for tracing the hidden wealth of the super-rich — illustrates that dual story in a freshly compelling way.

The top-line finding: Among the bottom 50 percent of earners, average real annual income even after taxes and transfers has edged up a meager $8,000 since 1970, rising from just over $19,000 to just over $27,000 in 2018.

By contrast, among the top 1 percent of earners, average income even after taxes and transfers has tripled since 1970, rising by more than $800,000, from just over $300,000 to over $1 million in 2018.

Among the top 0.1 percent, average after-tax-and-transfer income has increased fivefold, from just over $1 million in 1970 to over $5 million in 2018. And among the top .01 percent, it has increased nearly sevenfold, from just over $3.5 million to over $24 million.

I’m emphasizing the phrase “after taxes and transfers” because this is at the core of Zucman’s new analysis. The idea is to show the combined impact of both the explosion of pretax income at the top and the decline in the effective tax rate paid by those same earners — in one result.

And the Trump Tax Cut scam made it all exponentially worse.  Since 2000, when Bush came in and crashed the economy and left Obama holding the bag, and then Trump came in, wages for the bottom 90% went up maybe 10%, and 20% for the Top 10-1%.

But the wealthiest Americans saw the same income growth as before. the Top 1% up 40%, the Top 0.1% up 50%, and the Top 0.01% saw their incomes rise by 90%, from $14 million to $24 million.

We're headed for disaster, and imminently.

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