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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

Carlson vs. Shapiro: A way forward

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Carlson vs Shapiro A way forward

Tucker Carlson has recently caused quite a stir. He’s taken a very populist view of the role of government when it comes to intervening in the market, going so far as to suggest such things the mandated limiting of automation. To justify this, he points to the fact that as the market changes and certain skills become more or less in demand, many people get left behind. As coal plants shutdown, miners are left without work, as kiosks are deployed, fast food workers are back on the street, and truckers may soon be replaced with self-driving trucks. The solution to these issues, Carlson suggests, lies in retraining programs dictated by the government or subsidies to keep unprofitable businesses going.

On the other side of the issue are those who count on the free-market to work things out, people like Ben Shapiro. Shapiro and others acknowledge that some people will get left behind by technological advancement and the market changes that follow. However, they point out that in the end, most of those people can and do relocate or retrain on their own, and ultimately more people are helped by those changes than are hurt by them.

Both make good points. Carlson is right that it isn’t fair that people have to suffer in the name of progress and Shapiro is right that government intervention tends to exacerbate the problem. After all, many of those miners would still have jobs if government regulations weren’t making the coal plants shutdown in the first place. Yet, I think both are missing something important.

To get at what that is, we need to go all the way back to 2007 and the election of Barack Obama. Much was made – on both sides of the isle – about Obama’s background; particularly that of his role as a “community organizer.” Democrats considered it a positive, showing his concern for the people around him. Republicans mocked it almost universally because… few every really said. There was actually a solid line of attack on this – much of Obama’s work was with Acorn, a now discredited organization that did little more than encourage people to sign up for government benefits. Yet, that’s not what was done. During the Republican Convention that year, the likes of Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin spoke of Obama’s community organizer background in terms and tones of obvious mockery and derision, as though the concept were beneath them. This struck me as strange. Wasn’t the GOP the party of personal responsibility? Of small government? Wouldn’t someone who worked within his community to make it better be someone to lift up? Shouldn’t the GOP be wishing for more community organizers who worked along small government and free market principles rather than those of Acorn? If any of this was discussed, it didn’t make it to my eyes and years. As such, it seemed that the Republican Party was undermining its own principles with this attack. Many others thought so as well. I read more than a few comments from people saying that this attack and others like it were pushing people away from the GOP.

Fast forward four years to the Romney campaign. Everyone remembers the “47% percent are going to vote for Obama no matter what” remark and the damage that did. It made Romney seem even more elitist and out of touch. Again, this was largely self-inflicted, instead of leaning into the comment and explaining why that was, emphasizing the fact that the support for Obama and Democrats in general was largely based on false pretenses, the campaign tried to backtrack. Some of the right wing commentators actually did own it and try to use it as a positive. Unfortunately, it morphed into a “makers and takers” narrative, dividing the country between those who create new products and jobs and those who don’t.

The main problem with his line of thinking is that it tends to lump in the average blue-collar, and most white-collar, workers in with people who are happy to stay in the welfare system. Naturally, most people fit into this category, people who go to work every day so they can collect a paycheck and continue to raise their families. The maker vs. taker outlook naturally makes them feel left out, as though their own contributions are without value. The result is that people either stay home on voting day or vote for the side that at least pretends to care about them. If not for the candidacy of Donald Trump and his deliberate appeal to those very same voters, we would still be stuck in that same narrative.

However, we really haven’t found a solid replacement. The Carlson view tends to elevate the role of government more than conservatives are comfortable with while down-playing the market’s benefits. The Shapiro view tends to dehumanize the individuals who work down in the trenches every day, treating them more like cogs in the free-market machine. For the record, I think Carlson is aware of the potential dangers of government intervention and Shapiro doesn’t actually think of people as cogs. The issue that both are struggling with is to find a way to talk about the way a changing market affects people without falling into either trap.

So how do we resolve this? How do we begin to address the individuals that make up our society and recognize their individual worth and dignity without invoking the state in a misguided attempt to enforce it?

I had been puzzling this for some time, unable to find a satisfactory answer until the daily Mass readings brought to my attention a passage I’d read many times before. This time though, it seemed like a giant neon sign point the way to an answer. In Romans, St. Paul addresses the congregation in Rome, a group of Christians that apparently was having a problem with some people acting like they were better than others, and with the subsequent envy of those who don’t have the more visibly prominent gifts. I’ll let St. Paul explain (Romans 12: 3-8):

For by the grace given to me I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than one ought to think, but to think soberly, each according to the measure of faith that God has apportioned.

For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ* and individually parts of one another.

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

What St. Paul is telling us, is that we all have different gifts and as such, a different part to play. Some are more obvious than others, more significant. Yet, that doesn’t mean that others are not worth doing, even necessary. St. Paul applies the same thinking elsewhere, pointing out how silly it is to worry about whether the head or the foot is more important. The thing to keep in mind is that they need each other. The head isn’t getting far without the feet and the feet won’t have a place to go to without the head making decisions. Sure, the head has the bigger role, but it still needs the feet.

To bring it back to the Carlson/Shapiro debate, we need to reframe our discussion of economics to recognize the reality that St. Paul is pointing us toward. We all have a role, from the janitor, to the burger flipper, to the CEO. Clearly, the CEO has the bigger impact on society, yet he still needs others to perform their roles well. Bill Gates needed a team of programmers to turn his ideas into reality. Even more than that, patent clerks, lawyers, construction workers, and countless others had to do their jobs well in order for Gates to build his idea into the giant that is Microsoft. Are their contributions smaller? Yes. But they are no less necessary. Even President Trump owes some small part of his success to some guy with a shovel who broke ground on one of his properties.

What is the point of this? Why bring this up at all? By taking our cues from St. Paul, we can remember that every person, no matter their role has value, that they are contributing. That success need not be defined by whether or not you own your own business. That just because you are working by the hour and punching a clock, you are not a taker. You are a worker and a maker, making a life for yourself and those you love.

There are many questions to be explored in later articles such as social mobility, the role of automation, and how to manage when a business closes. This is not an end to the debate over how we should manage economic and technological change. Rather, it is a way to breathe some much needed fresh air into this debate.

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Economy

Shannon Grove on high speed rail: ‘The more we look at this project, the more uncertainties come to light’

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Shannon Grove on high speed rail The more we look at this project the more uncertainties come to lig

SACRAMENTO – Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) issued the following statement after the Assembly Transportation Committee held an extensive hearing on the California High-Speed Rail project today.

“The more we look at this project, the more uncertainties come to light. Whether it is the loss of federal funds, the looming deadlines, or the failure to comply with the requirements of Proposition 1A, these hearings have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the California High-Speed Rail Authority is incapable of building anything that resembles what they promised the voters.

“Sacramento Democrats can no longer pretend they don’t know this project is off the rails. It is a shameful waste of taxpayers’ dollars and we must stop throwing our hard-earned money down the drain. It is time to kill the big rail fail,” said Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove.

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Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove represents California’s 16th Senate District which encompasses large portions of Kern, Tulare and San Bernardino counties and including the cities of Bakersfield, Barstow, California City, Exeter, Frazier Mountain, Joshua Tree, Mojave, Needles, Ridgecrest, Rosamond, Taft, Tehachapi, Twentynine Palms, Tulare, Visalia, Yucca Valley and portions of the Kern River Valley. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

For press inquiries or questions, please contact Jacqui Nguyen, press secretary for the Senate Republican Caucus, at 858.999.7706.

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Economy

Gary Vaynerchuk never talks about politics, but he’s great when he does

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Gary Vaynerchuk never talks about politics but hes great when he does

Language warning, in case you’ve never listened to Gary Vaynerchuk before. I have, and he’s great.

Those who know of Gary Vaynerchuk think of wine, social media, and digital strategy. The Belarusian American entrepreneur has been an outspoken advocate of all things “віно і маркетинг” for over a decade, but he rarely speaks about politics.

Recently, he did, and one prediction in particular caught my eye.

In an interview for Capitalism by Ryan Daniel Moran, Vaynerchuk said, “I believe we’re seeing the beginning stages of a four party system in America in the next 50 to 100 years.”

The way he sees it, both major parties are pushing to the extremes on the ideological scale, opening up spots for moderate progressives and moderate conservatives to have major parties of their own. This is the case in most countries; the United States is one of the few that has a true two-party system despite the fact that most of our founding fathers didn’t want it to turn out this way.

John Adams said:

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

But Vaynerchuk, who has built a career around being write much more often than he’s wrong, says the opening is already being seen today. He railed against both parties, blaming both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama for poorly handling the financial crisis of the late 00s.

Millions have learned over the years to listen to Gary Vaynerchuk when he’s offering opinions. Though his political opinions are few and far between, there’s a wisdom to them you don’t hear from the pundits. It’s authentic, a rare quality indeed.

Petition Capitol Hill for Term Limits

Sign the petition. We demand Congress immediately put together legislation that spells out term limits for themselves. Americans need to know who is willing to suppress their own power for the sake of the nation. This can only happen by bringing legislation to the floor.

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