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Economy

Larry Kudlow goes from economic adviser to tariff apologist

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Larry Kudlow goes from economic adviser to tariff apologist

One would think that conservative economist Larry Kudlow, who has often panned tariffs and trade wars in the past, would be advising his boss that going after China with huge tariffs will not yield the desired results. As the Director of the National Economic Council and a man with a direct line to the President, Kudlow should be granting his wisdom to a President bent on making bad economic choices.

Instead, Kudlow is doing everything to defend an action that he knows will be detrimental.

Kudlow says Trump has ‘not been satisfied’ with China trade talks

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/17/kudlow-says-trump-has-not-been-satisfied-with-china-trade-talks.html“The president has suggested tariffs on a couple $100 billion” in Chinese goods, Kudlow said. “He has not been satisfied with the talks with China on this. I think the basic stories are more or less correct. My guess is that an announcement will be coming soon.”

“The tariffs story may be a very good force for good,” Kudlow told CNBC. “Don’t rule that out.”

“People want to blame President Trump for fixing a broken system, and I think that’s unfair,” said Kudlow, a former CNBC host.

His wording is very careful. Notice that he never says the tariffs will be good, but the tariff story itself may have positive effects. This is, to some extent, true. In the short term it sparks the type of nationalism the President needs to push forward his agenda. It also allows him to remain consistent on his push for tariffs; in an election year, consistency is important.

What Kudlow truly believes but is unwilling to say is that these tariffs will place a burden on American companies and consumers that will have major long term effects. He is careful with his wording because he does not want to be quoted as agreeing with the tariffs but is simultaneously unwilling to speak out publicly about the President’s policies.

Perhaps behind the scenes he’s working on Trump, but it doesn’t appear to be having an effect. The leftist notion of fair trade has permeated across the GOP and is corrupting sound economic advisers like Kudlow. By defending the actions, Kudlow has become a tariff apologist.

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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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