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Economy

President Trump, this is what happens when you meddle in the economy

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President Trump proved me both wrong and right simultaneously this week: right because the consequences of his actions are precisely what I predicted they would be if he decided to go there, and wrong because for some reason I haven’t fully accepted that if you don’t think Trump will do something, he almost inevitably will.

Earlier this week, I was discussing the highs and lows of a Trump presidency with my co-workers. Some of the major highlights of his rookie year in office were the massive rollbacks in business regulations and record-breaking stock values. I argued that the market’s rise can be attributed not necessarily to anything Trump has done, but specifically to what he hasn’t done. Where investors are confident that they will not be burdened by regulations, penalized for expanding their wealth, and sideswiped by unpredictable and unstable economic policy, they feel confident investing in the economy, and the national market booms.

Any time the government gets overly involved in business, business declines — especially to the detriment of middle-class workers. This has been established time and time again through the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, mandatory wage and price controls under Hoover, the Wagner Act of 1935, the Bush tariffs of 2002, subsidized subprime mortgages leading up to the 2008 housing crisis, and the Fight for 15, which is estimated to cost around 400,000 low-wage jobs by 2022 in California alone.

My co-workers agreed. Not only is it logical, but it’s observably true. The 1987 crash could’ve had far more dire results, after all, if Reagan hadn’t kept his distance from corrective measures.

But leave it to Trump to ruin one of the approximately four good things he had going for him.

When the president announced on Thursday that he would be imposing steel and aluminum tariffs, the Dow Jones nosedived 600 points, recovering about 150 of those by the end of the day. This just one week after his announcement of the imposition of solar panel and washing machine tariffs.

All told, the Dow has fallen 1,200 points since Monday, and it will be far worse once these tariffs are officially imposed. Investors are uneasy, but they can at least hold onto a semblance of hope that the president can be talked out of his suicide mission.

Not only is Trump’s claim that a country without steel isn’t really a country patently ludicrous, but so is his assertion that we can have free, fair, and smart trade together. “Fair” means “controlled;” “smart” means controlled;” “controlled” means “not free.”

As for his claims that the steel industry is in bad shape, he apparently hasn’t cracked open a single study on the matter. As amassed by Daily Wire, steel production rose last year, the U.S. handily controls the market on steel, the nation’s leading steel manufacturers have seen exponential growth in stock, earnings, and wages, and by and large any loss of steel jobs can be attributed to technological advancements (which lead to job growth in other fields) rather than trade deficits.

Speaking of supposed trade deficits, President Trump claims that spending more on a country’s goods than they spend on ours is “not fair or smart.” This is a fundamentally flawed approach to business. I’ve given far more money to Costco than it’s given to me, but presumably, I chose to spend that money because I valued the product higher than the purchase price. In a voluntary transaction, assuming no fraud, both sides are better off.

Trump’s insistence on “America First” to the detriment of America reminds me of one of my local city council members, who campaigned (and won) on the promise that she would only shop within our city limits, even cutting up her Costco card (the nearest Costco is two cities away, a roughly fifteen-minute drive) to emphasize the point.

Here’s the problem: there are hardly any shops or restaurants in my city, due to exorbitant taxes and a hostile business environment. We boast a half-dozen chain restaurants and a Wal-Mart next to our freeway exits, but everything else is an absurdly priced mom and pop shop, and I don’t have the money for that kind of constant virtue. As such, my wife and I almost exclusively drive two cities up on date nights to where we can find virtually every kind of restaurant and store we could hope for.

Capitalism thrives on providing the greatest service for the lowest price, incentivizing innovation and public accommodation. Trade wars excuse local stagnation, allowing businesses to become complacent and cease to progress. That is not good for any economy.

Moreover, foreign imports affect domestic jobs far more than Trump gives them credit for. Tariffs incur higher costs on manufacturers, making production more expensive. This will lead to either price hikes, wage cuts, layoffs, or a combination of the three. Steel tariffs will cost thousands of American auto jobs, and aluminum tariffs will force significant layoffs in the beer industry.

This is rudimentary economic awareness, of which it appears Trump has none.

Finally, this proposal has major international implications. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission and leader of the E.U., has declared that if Trump wants a trade war, he’ll get one, according to a New York Times report. Juncker has announced tariffs on Harley-Davidsons, bourbon, and blue jeans, with an intention to match trade penalties tit for tat with the United States.

Still, Trump insists that “trade wars are good and easy to win.” Perhaps he could name one if he’d ever read a book.

One of the great lies of modern America is that free markets led to the Great Depression. In reality, a crash that could have ended after only a moderate recession resulted in a massive, decade-long depression thanks to government intervention by way of a trade war, job stimulus, and the New Deal, and it only ended thanks to World War II’s global devastation and its reallocation of twelve million workers into the military. Trump is on the verge of creating his trade war, and with his proposed $1 trillion infrastructure package, look for the sequel to the Hoover Dam.

If Trump continues down this path, things will get much worse before they get better. Hopefully, if dissenting voices are loud enough, the president will be dissuaded from this disastrous course.

Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it, and those who claim to not read books because they already arrive at correct decisions “with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had, plus the words ‘common sense,’ because I have a lot of common sense and I have a lot of business ability,” don’t know history and clearly don’t know economics.

Richie Angel is a Co-Editor in Chief of The New Guards. Follow him and The New Guards on Twitter, and check out The New Guards on Facebook.

Richie Angel is a Co-Editor in Chief of The New Guards, Co-Host of The New Guards Podcast, lifelong fan of the Anaheim Ducks, and proud Hufflepuff. He graduated Magna Cum Laude in English from Brigham Young University in 2017. One day later, his wife gave birth to a beautiful daughter. Richie is a constitutional conservative and doesn't see any compassion in violating other people's rights.

Economy

House bill will rein in Trump’s abuse of trade powers

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As much of the nation focused yesterday on the Supreme Court and who Trump would nominate to fill the seat being vacated by Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) was busy working on a bill that would limit Trump’s authority to levy tariffs.

Under Gallagher’s bill, Congress would reclaim its constitutional authority by requiring the president to obtain congressional approval before levying tariffs “in the interest of national security.” This bill is in response to Trump abusing his power to levy tariffs under a provision in the law that allows him to do so on an emergency basis when national security is threatened.

Gallagher’s measure is a companion bill to a Senate measure co-sponsored by Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Mike Lee (R-UT) designed to “rein in the executive branch’s power to impose (tariffs)” and to empower Congress to “assert its Constitutional responsibility and lead on trade policy.”

The recessionary/depressionary consequences of Trump’s self-declared trade war are beginning to take their toll. US companies in various industries are making plans to move operations overseas to avoid the financial impact of tariffs while others are laying off employees due to skyrocketing prices on steel.

To be fair, tariffs haven’t been all bad, especially if your name is Trump.

Trump managed to leverage his tariff threats against China to haul in over $500 million to finance Trump golf courses and hotels in Indonesia and secure trademarks for his and Ivanka’s business interests in China. And Ivanka’s questionably ethical payday has continued as we have just learned that her clothing empire—exclusively manufactured in various Asian countries because MAGA™–is exempt from Daddy’s recent 25 percent tariff on $34 billion worth of imported Chinese goods.

It looks like Trump won’t be backing down anytime soon. It was last week that we learned that Trump is working on a bill he hopes Congress will consider that would shift ALL tariff power from the legislative branch to the executive branch. Known as the U.S. Fair and Reciprocal Trade Act (FART Act), Trump’s proposal would give him Emperor-like power to levy tariffs anywhere anytime and for any reason.

Would Congress ever pass such a law? Who knows?

A few weeks ago, the Senate Finance Committee grilled Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross over Trump’s trade-war strategy in light of the administration’s kid-gloves handling of China and of retaliatory tariffs against the US by Canada, China, Mexico, and the EU. It’s tempting to get excited when Republicans get fired up and appear to be doing their job, unfortunately Mitch McConnell always shows up to throw water on the flames, turning the excitement into ashes.

As the election draws near and with the GOP officially rebranded as the Party of Trump, I find little reason to hope that efforts to rein in Trump’s abuse of power will succeed.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

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Economy

Emperor Palpatine would love Trump’s U.S. FART Act

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Ever since Trump officially launched his self-declared trade war earlier this year, countries around the world have been lining up to retaliate against his arbitrary use of tariffs—the Senate Finance Committee recently called it “knee-jerk impulses”—in his pursuit to advance his anti-free trade, protectionist agenda.

In January, Trump lobbed the first economy-killing grenade when he imposed tariffs on imported solar panels and residential washing machines. Weeks later Trump launched a second round of attacks with across-the-board tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

Following the second round of attacks, Trump’s trade advisor Peter Navarro appeared on FOX Business Network to assure America that Trump knew what he was doing and that fears of a trade war were misplaced because no country would dare retaliate for Trump’s tariffs.

Obviously, with retaliatory tariffs being leveled by Canada, China, Mexico, and the EU, Navarro was not only wrong in his conclusion, but we now find ourselves in the throes of a trade war, with casualties here at home such as we witnessed recently with Harley Davidson’s announcement to move some production overseas to avoid tariffs.

Additionally, the price of steel has doubled, causing layoffs and possible business closures for smaller businesses. For example, last week Mid-Continent Nail announced layoffs for 60 of its 500 employees and may be forced to relocate to Mexico to survive Trump’s trade war.

But don’t worry. Trade wars are “good” and “easy to win.”

Already guilty of abusing his authority to level tariffs—he can only do so as a matter of national security—and in true “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” fashion, Trump is working on a bill he hopes Congress will consider that would shift tariff powers from the legislative branch to the executive branch.

The U.S. Fair and Reciprocal Trade Act would give the president power to level tariffs anywhere, anytime, and for any reason. Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci refers to Trump’s proposal acrostically, calling it the U.S. FART Act because it “stinks.”

Personally, I think a better nickname for it is the Emperor Palpatine Act because it gives Trump…

I would like to believe, as the editorial board of National Review does, that Congress would never consider surrendering its Article 1, Section 8 power to “lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imports, and Excises” to any president, especially Trump. But when you consider that they already allow Trump to abuse his authority to impose tariffs—national security, remember?—not to mention that efforts to rein him in have been shot down by Mitch McConnell and other Republicans sold out to Trumpism, I’m not so sure FART wouldn’t fly if given its wings.

Case in point: We need only remember how Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) successfully led the charge to surrender the Senate’s Constitutional authority to approve treaties to Obama during the Iran deal to know just how feckless Republicans can be when dealing with unpopular issues.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and FacebookSubscribe to receive podcasts of radio commentaries: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | RSS

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Economy

What do Democrats and Obamacare have in common with Republicans and tax cuts?

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During the Obama administration, the most obvious example of the disastrous consequences of making laws in this fashion is Obamacare—legislation negotiated behind closed doors and so full of special interests that Nancy Pelosi famously stated that Congress had to pass the bill before we could find out what was in it. Obama also provided cover for Obamacare before and after its passage with his now-famous repeated lie: “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”

Trump and the GOP have created an Obamacare moment of their own with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

Like Obamacare, TCJA was so massive and contained so many special interest considerations—mostly to corporations and donors—that it was hammered out behind closed doors, and under McConnell’s Pelosi-inspired instructions, TCJA could not be read by Senators until after it passed the Senate. And just like Obama before him with Obamacare, Trump kept the details of the tax cut plan hidden while spreading the lie that it would provide “the biggest tax cuts in history.”

The folks at InfoWars.com said that Trump’s promise had an Obama-esque “if you like your money, you can keep your money” ring to it.

The similarities between Obamacare the Trump tax cuts don’t end there. In the same way that much of the damage from Obamacare wasn’t known until after it became law, the damage from Trump’s tax cuts are now being revealed.

A previously unnoticed change to the tax code included in the TCJA has been discovered that imposes newly created taxes on churches, synagogues, and other non-profit organizations of 21 percent on employee benefits like meals and parking, forcing these organizations, regardless of size, to pay taxes for the first time ever. This is a costly burden when you consider that many nonprofit organizations operate with small and/or volunteer staff.

Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX), who is apparently one of those who didn’t read TCJA before voting for it, is trying to fix this “oops” moment, but House Ways and Means Chairman and Trump loyalist Kevin Brady (R-TX) is defending the stealth-like tax grab because it will provide “parity”—GOP-speak for fairness—regarding taxing employee compensation.

Parity has nothing to do with it. From day one, Republicans targeted charitable deductions as a source of income to offset the massive tax breaks they were giving big business and special interests. Failing to get as much as they had hoped from adjusting deductions, the GOP went after the recipients of those donations.

This is why the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was created behind closed doors, why nobody could read it before voting, and why Trump lied to protect it. It’s also a sign that our great Republic is quickly approaching its end.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and FacebookSubscribe to receive podcasts of radio commentaries: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | RSS

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