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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

To those who don’t care about the national debt, consider this

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To those who dont care about the national debt consider this

The national debt has been growing dramatically for decades. It’s so great that most Americans seem to dismiss it altogether; if we haven’t been harmed by it already, it obviously can’t hurt us, right? This sort of “head in the sand” thinking is why lawmakers refuse to tackle it. As long as the people don’t seem to care, why should they?

It’s time to care. It’s been time to care for a while but the collective ignoring of it has brought it to the level that now, in 2018, we are nearing the point of no return.

Why? Because the astronomical interest is now going to noticeably affect how the government operates. We’ve spent years pretending like the interest isn’t a big deal even though it was growing to unsustainable levels during the Clinton administration. Now, we’re seeing it reach levels that are tangible. Why? Because the cost to cover it is now great enough that other areas are going to need to be cut.

In 2017, the interest on our debt was $263 billion. That’s 6.6% of federal government spending. We’re on track to spend more on interest than Medicaid in 2020 and more on interest than defense by 2023. Let me repeat that:

By 2023, we will spend more in interest on the national debt than we spend on national defense.

Normally, we can take CBO predictions with a grain of salt because they’re usually off (see Obamacare predictions for CBO’s epic failures) but this one relies on simple math. Even in a humming economy with the best case scenarios in play, you can’t overcome interest without paying down the debt.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans have any intention of paying off the debt. This is why candidate Trump went from promising to pay off the national debt in eight years, then ten years, then paying part of it off, then finally proclaiming himself the “king of debt” – all within the period of one month on the campaign trail.

To get the national debt in line will require an ironclad commitment backed by irrevocable legislation that spans two- to four-decades. It means entitlement reform, budget limits, cutting entire agencies and possibly even departments, and commitments to rein in all forms of discretionary spending.

In other words, the only way to get the national debt to a manageable level – not even getting it to zero but somewhere much lower than it is – would require commitments by politicians that none of them are willing to make. Oh, there might be a couple of Senators and a handful of Congressmen who would embrace such measures, but even those ones won’t buck the system to the point that they’d push hard for it without a mandate by voters.

We are the only hope for the very near future. If Americans don’t care that our tax dollars are being used to pay interest on the mountainous debt that has been accumulated in recent years, let alone the debt that preceded it, then we shouldn’t expect politicians to care, either. This can has been kicked down the road for decades, but the road is coming to a very abrupt end soon. It’s beyond unsustainable. We’re on the verge of collapsing under the weight of our own mistakes.

As long as voters ignore the national debt, neither party will pay attention to it, either. We will drown in our own ignorance if we don’t act soon. In the past, they said the debt will affect our children and grandchildren. Now, the debt is starting to affect us.

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Economy

Pacific Rim summit highlights strained China-US relations

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Pacific Rim summit highlights strained China-US relations

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AP) — A meeting of world leaders in Papua New Guinea has highlighted divisions between global powers the U.S. and China and a growing competition for influence in the usually neglected South Pacific.

The 21 nations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby struggled to bridge differences on issues such as trade protectionism and reforming the World Trade Organization, making it likely their final statement Sunday will be an anodyne document.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and China’s President Xi Jinping traded barbs in speeches on Saturday. Pence professed respect for Xi and China but also harshly criticized the world’s No. 2 economy for intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and unfair trading practices.

In Port Moresby, the impact of China’s aid and loans is highly visible. But the U.S. and allies are countering with efforts to finance infrastructure in Papua New Guinea and other island states. The U.S. has also said it will be involved in ally Australia’s plan to develop a naval base with Papua New Guinea.

On Sunday, the U.S., New Zealand, Japan and Australia said they’d work with Papua New Guinea’s government to bring electricity to 70 percent of its people by 2030. Less than 20 percent have a reliable electricity supply.

“The commitment of the United States of America to this region of the world has never been stronger,” said Pence at a signing ceremony. A separate statement from his office said other countries are welcome to join the electrification initiative provided they support the U.S. vision of a free and open Pacific.

China, meanwhile, has promised $4 billion of finance to build the the first national road network in Papua New Guinea, among the least urbanised countries in the world.

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Economy

Trump: Fund the border wall or let’s have a government shutdown

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Trump Fund the border wall or lets have a government shutdown

President Trump indicated Saturday that if he doesn’t get the $5 billion he wants for Homeland Security in the next spending bill, he may push a partial government shutdown.

“This would be a very good time to do a shutdown,” Trump told reporters as he departed the White House to visit the fire zones in California. “I don’t think it’s going to be necessary, because I think the Democrats will come to their senses, and if they don’t come to their senses, we will continue to win elections.”

The House has already passed a spending bill that includes the $5 billion President Trump wants in order to jumpstart the building of his wall along the Mexican border. The Senate is still working with the original number proposed, $1.6 billion. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said it isn’t going to happen.

“We believe Democrats and Republicans should stick with their agreement and not let President Trump interfere,” Schumer said earlier this week. “Every time he interferes, it gets bollixed up.”

Around 70% of the government is already funded beyond the December 7 deadline. The shutdown President Trump is threatening would affect State, Interior, Homeland Security, Justice and other departments.

My Take

I’m always hesitant to call for increased spending on anything. Budgets are already too high. But the border wall is one of the few things that actually does need to be funded. The long-term effects of slowing illegal immigration will actually save the country money.

Most politicians fear a shutdown. It harms federal employees and with Christmas coming up, the prospects of a shutdown are troubling. But we need the wall. We were promised the wall. It’s time to get aggressive and force Congress to do their job.

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