Protection for Republican majorities in the House and Senate

I am a free trader by nature but not a big fan of economic forms of self-harm. And I am certainly for Trump basing his decisions on political calculation, since I am also against political forms of self harm. PDT is shifting towards a slight increase in protection for American products, as summed up in this article from The Wall Street Journal: ‘Every day is a new adventure’: Trump upends Washington and Wall Street with shifts on trade, guns. Pulling the various bits from the article, there are two sides to it, always bearing in mind that if it’s in the WSJ the story will be shaped by a free-trade ethos. So why, according to the story, would protection levels be increased. This is part of the Trump calculation:

  • foreign countries are stealing American jobs with cheap imports – tariffs are one of the only ways to punish other countries for [WTO-forbidden] practices that disadvantage U.S. manufacturers
  • impose tariffs on steel and aluminum in the name of national security – large amounts of cheap steel and aluminum posed a national security risk for the United States
  • Trump has also been keeping a close eye on the special election this month for a U.S. House seat in western Pennsylvania. Voters in places such as Pennsylvania’s 18th District are looking for more to be done by the administration. The president has noted that the Republican in the race is struggling in a district where he won by a large margin.

And why leave things alone. Again from the WSJ and part of the White House debate:

  • tariffs could spark a trade war – other countries would retaliate, imposing tariffs on U.S. exports, damaging an economy that Trump was trying to build up through his tax cuts
  • the stock market was doing well [as is the economy as a whole].

This is hardly a return to Smoot-Hawley, and if it protects Republican majorities in the House and Senate, the small ripple effects on the American and world economies will be worth the extra few dollars Americans pay for the goods and services they buy. Meanwhile, this is the stated threat from Europe:

“We will put tariffs on Harley-Davidson, on bourbon and on blue jeans – Levi’s,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told German television.

That’s about the size of it. Meanwhile public spending rises another trillion and no one says a word.

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39 Responses to Protection for Republican majorities in the House and Senate

  1. stackja

    DT can’t rule against Dems majority. One battle at a time. If WSJ is ‘free trade’ why don’t they reduce their price and help other newspapers?

  2. tgs

    What WTO forbidden practices?

  3. Bruce of Newcastle

    Don’t listen to the patter, watch the hands:

    The incredible Trump agenda — What most Americans don’t know about the war the president has waged

    But make no mistake, 2017 was a banner year for conservative policy victories. On that score, President Trump can confidently stack his record right up there next to President Reagan’s first year.

    Now add in two observations from me. First: Trump’s base is actually the Howard battlers of the rust belt. They jumped from the Democrats to the Trump bandwagon but haven’t magically become conservatives. In time they might, but every night they get more lefty crud injected into their eyeballs from the MSM. So what can Trump do about it? He can telegraph to them that he is on their side. Steel tariffs on China are a cheap way of doing that.

    Second: Mueller may be pivoting away from Wussians! towards Chinks!. That is a logical tactic since the Chinese are in the news with Xi’s takeover, Chinese spying and the South China Sea gambit. So bopping them with a tariff on a fairly ordinary not especially essential commodity neatly snookers that move by Mueller.

    Robert Mueller is reportedly looking into whether Jared Kushner used his family’s business to influence US foreign policy

    Concerns about Kushner’s business dealings while working in the White House have intensified in recent days.

    On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that officials in China, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and Mexico pinpointed Kushner’s senior ranking in the Trump administration, his troubled financial dealings, and his lack of government experience as an opening for political influence.

    WaPo is the go to mob for Mueller leaks. You can almost hear the sniffing noises from his army of Democrat spooks.

  4. md

    Meanwhile public spending rises another trillion and no one says a word.

    If you think there’s hope for the future, think again:
    ‘American Contempt for Liberty’ author speaks out about the loss of free speech and increase of government.
    Stick with it through to the end. He basically believes there is no solution to the growth of government.
    I don’t agree, but I do agree that none of the current political parties are the answer.

  5. Cynic of Ayr

    Well, the one thing that stands out is that Donald Trump makes decisions based on what’s best for his country. The USA.
    The big outrages I see come from non USA people who might be disadvantaged by Trump’s decision. Isn’t it funny?
    They say, “Trump should be making decisions for our benefit, not the USA’s benefit! The USA should pay!”
    Compare to Trumbull, who makes decisions totally based on what he, or Lucy, thinks will make him look good.
    Ditto Bishop.
    Ditto Morrison.
    Ditto Payne.
    Ditto many. Too bloody many!

  6. Infidel Tiger

    If the banks had been allowed to fail and most of Wall st jailed after the GFC it would be a lot easier to listen to the case for free trade and markets coming from the same people who should actually be in jail.

  7. Faye

    Instead of independent nations having trade agreements with each other one on one, the world now has multinational corporations which control whole markets (industrial and commodities) trading globally. Their investments are backed by the multinational banks who along with the multinational corporations, lobby the nations’ politicians to sway policies favourable to themselves.
    Many purchased interests in many countries equals much power and leverage.
    Exports of these assets are made through trade agreements which are slanted to benefit lesser developed countries (unknowingly being taken over by the nice interloper who pays wages at a low rate) whilst hitting the developed western countries with over the top prices.
    What better example of Globalization in practice, than the Rise of China and the Downfall of America.
    The fools for leaders of America let it happen. Decades of trade deficits. Unfair trade between tariff-charging countries and no-tariff America. For a while, it will be tit-for-tat with the tariffs but eventually countries will wake up and charge no tariffs at all.
    Right now Trump is lancing the boil.

  8. Tel

    If the banks had been allowed to fail and most of Wall st jailed after the GFC it would be a lot easier to listen to the case for free trade and markets coming from the same people who should actually be in jail.

    The banks would have cashed in their mortgage insurance policies with GNMA. The US government would be broke by now if they tried that. I mean, even more broke than it already is.

  9. Dr Fred Lenin

    It’s absolutely ridiculous that the former “arsenal on the free world “ ,is prevented from making its own steel]l and aluminium to please the globalist u. n.communist agenda 21 . The politicians who fostered this are Traitors and should be shot by firing squad ,en masse. Take a leaf out of the socialists Stalin Hitler,Mao , etc. etc., they knew how to remove obstructionists and the present day left is infested with them . Maybe shooting is too good ,again copy the socialist fascists and gulag them then work them hard to pay for some of the damage they have caused .

  10. Pyrmonter

    This thread couldn’t be better than a parody of what Catalaxy has become – apologists and nationalists. Neither Libertarian nor Centre-Right by any accepted meanings of those terms.

  11. “We will put tariffs on Harley-Davidson, on bourbon and on blue jeans – Levi’s,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told German television.

    Here is the EU in 2016..

    Chinese and Russian producers of non-stainless steels were hit by the European Union with five-year tariffs as high as 36.1 percent after the EU found that imports from the two countries unfairly undercut manufacturers in Europe such as and ArcelorMittal.

    I can imagine what Trump was saying privately about that PoS Juncker’s remark.
    “Tell him to go fvck himself”.

    Pyrmonter
    #2650874, posted on March 3, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    This thread couldn’t be better than a parody of what Catalaxy has become – apologists and nationalists. Neither Libertarian nor Centre-Right by any accepted meanings of those terms.

    So fighting back against crooked international trade is now anti-right, apologist and nationalist?
    I assume bending over, dropping ones panties and taking it hard and deep is the libertarian way….because “free trade” or something.

  12. mh

    Back in early 2016 Trump was campaigning on jobs, jobs, jobs.

    Trump has been delivering on that promise since his inauguration.

    It’s worth revisiting this video from May 2016, with the UK Guardian’s John Harris:

  13. Pyrmonter

    @ Baa

    If the fellow standing next to me takes out a pair of pliers and starts breaking off his fingers, my reaction is to be appalled at the self-harm, not to copy him.

  14. egg_

    Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourgish pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ːkloːt ˈjuŋkɐ]; born 9 December 1954) is a Luxembourgish politician serving as President of the European Commission since 2014. From 1995 to 2013 he was the 23rd Prime Minister of Luxembourg, and from 1989 to 2009 he was the Minister for Finances.

    Basically an unelected representative from the EU threatening the POTUS.

  15. Dr Fred Lenin

    Junkers is the former PM/of Tasmania ,sorry Luxembourg about the same size . That’s like putting Lambie in charge in Canberra . A country that size must be bludging on the real ones ,but then he is a socialist commisar what would you expect? =

  16. eb

    Oh, Pyrmonter have you forgotten the basics on free trade?
    The workers and companies that will benefit from the tariffs will be far less than the number of people and companies that will have to pay more for their steel and alumina. But their benefit will be far greater per head. And they will be far more important politically.

  17. Pyrmonter

    @ eb

    I well understand the ‘concentrated gains/dispersed losses’ point. But no-one ever built a strong economy by taxing it, and taxing it is what Trump is doing: he’ll drive up US costs of important intermediate goods, at the expense of end consumers and of the businesses that use them. Some of whom are making their misfortune known: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/01/molson-coors-warns-of-hit-to-beer-industry-from-donald-trumps-tariffs.html

    This ‘shrink the pie’ logic is what one would have expected from Obama, and maybe Campaign Hillary; not the (since WWII) free trade-advocating, freedom-loving GOP. It’s pure cronyism. The only regrettable thing is that a vote for the ‘other side’ is only likely to make things worse.

  18. Bruce of Newcastle

    This thread couldn’t be better than a parody of what Catalaxy has become – apologists and nationalists.

    Pyrmonter – The West is dying of cancer (progressive greenery) and AIDS (acquired Islamic destruction syndrome) and you are complaining that we’re not putting bandaids on trade papercuts.

    As I said on another thread all Trump has to do to correct for the tariffs is to remove the green crap stifling US business and they will do backflips in joy. And he is doing that.

    No one else is because no one else has the balls to defy the Gramscian progressive greens.

  19. Tel

    The workers and companies that will benefit from the tariffs will be far less than the number of people and companies that will have to pay more for their steel and alumina.

    But how many in the critical states where Trump needs the votes?

    But their benefit will be far greater per head.

    No one cares about benefit per head, it’s unlikely that such a concept is measurable at the best of times.

    If someone who couldn’t get a job under Obama gets a job under Trump, this person will be thankful (and also unemployment costs the Federal government a lot in food stamps, medicaid, etc).

  20. Rob MW

    There’s also a bigger picture that suggests that the current rules applying to free trade are being corrupted by …… well…… just about everybody including communist China’s high impact trade strategy of ‘One Belt, One Road’ which appears to include the annexation of the South China Sea.

    From the first link:

    “In essence Canada is a brokerage for Chinese manufactured material, and NAFTA is the access trade-door exploited by China for entry into the U.S. market. More on that in a moment. First watch Justin from Canada explain his country’s position.”

    I think that a world fully dependant upon Chinees raw output, including ideological output, is not going to end well in the long term.

  21. if it protects Republican majorities in the House and Senate, the small ripple effects on the American and world economies will be worth the extra few dollars Americans pay for the goods and services they buy.

    At least you say it out loud, Steve, though it underlines how cravenly you have abandoned your beliefs. A noble sacrifice for your tribe.

  22. Pyrmonter
    #2650890, posted on March 3, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    @ Baa

    If the fellow standing next to me takes out a pair of pliers and starts breaking off his fingers, my reaction is to be appalled at the self-harm, not to copy him.

    Idon’t even know what the fvck that means, but I’ll give it a shot.
    You think the bloke next to you is breaking off his fingers, when in fact he is trimming his fingernails and manicuring,

  23. The tariffs proposed by Trump isn’t about ideological battles. It is about crooked multinationals cheating the system and ripping off American producers and consumers. Ergo…

    By shipping parts to Mexico and/or Canada; and by deploying satellite manufacturing and assembly facilities in Canada and/or Mexico; China, Asia and to a lesser extent EU corporations exploited a loophole. Through a process of building, assembling or manufacturing their products in Mexico/Canada those foreign corporations can skirt U.S. trade tariffs and direct U.S. trade agreements. The finished foreign products entered the U.S. under NAFTA rules.

    Why deal with the U.S. when you can just deal with Mexico, and use NAFTA rules to ship your product directly into the U.S. market?

    This exploitative approach, a backdoor to the U.S. market, was the primary reason for massive foreign investment in Canada and Mexico; it was also the primary reason why candidate Donald Trump, now President Donald Trump, wanted to shut down that loophole and renegotiate NAFTA.

    Never has ideology put bread on the table. Trump’s got this.

    https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2018/03/02/unhappy-canada-vows-retaliation-for-steel-tariffs-nafta-steel-tariffs-and-an-introduction-to-liu-zhongtian/#more-146455

  24. sdfc

    foreign countries are stealing American jobs with cheap imports

    and creating others.

  25. Malcolm

    Are you half pregnant Mr Kates? Either you’re for free trade (as I am) or against it. Donald Trump has failed on two counts: he is increasing protectionism and increasing government spending. He is a socialist.

  26. Andre Lewis

    Kates is not half pregnant but simply saying while free trade has benefits what the USA has experienced from China, Canada, Mexica et al is patently not free trade.

  27. Defender of the faith

    Is there a single issue on which Kates will hold principle over his pathetic apologies for Trump?

  28. Kneel

    “Kates is not half pregnant but simply saying while free trade has benefits what the USA Australia has experienced from China, Canada, Mexica et al is patently not free trade.”

    Fixed.

  29. max

    Tax-Loving Conservatives
    Hamilton was the early Republic’s supreme philosopher of crony capitalism.
    His intellectual heirs are defenders of this strategy.
    This is why Hamilton is a favorite of both the Right and the Left. Biographies of Hamilton sell very well. He articulated our era’s version of capitalism: the bastard child of the Keynesian interventionist state. (Hamilton was the most influential bastard in American history.) Keynesianism is a philosophy of creative government spending and endless government debt. So is Hamiltonianism.
    Making a nation richer by taxing customers more than before is a strange idea: “Tax and grow rich.” It sounds like Keynesianism because it is Keynesianism.
    https://www.garynorth.com/public/9618.cfm

  30. Malcolm

    God, do none of you understand free trade? It means that a country should reduce / eliminate tariffs even when other countries don’t. Free trade means to cut tariffs even when other countries are increasing them. Unless you’re a country large enough to affect the world price (optimal tariff argument), there is no case for increasing tariffs.

  31. Iampeter

    Are you half pregnant Mr Kates? Either you’re for free trade (as I am) or against it. Donald Trump has failed on two counts: he is increasing protectionism and increasing government spending. He is a socialist.

    Exactly. You beat me to it.

    I wouldn’t call Trump or today’s conservatives “socialists” though as that implies a level of coherence they simply don’t possess. Trump is just a run-of-the-mill, big government leftist and statist, with no political ideology of any kind. So are most conservatives today sadly.

  32. Boris

    foreign countries are stealing American jobs with cheap imports

    And I thought Kates at least is a reasonable economist…

  33. Boris

    While Trumps actions to date have been an erratic mix of good and bad, but mostly talk, tweets and little action, this is the first step that can really hurt the US and world economy.

    While tariffs alone will benefit US steel producers and harm US steel consumers (construction and car industries etc), the trade war it can spark can cause a downward spiral that can be harmful for everyone. Remember Great Depression.

    Upon trump’s annaouncment shares of the steel companies rose but Dow fell. This is just a start.

  34. Tel

    Making a nation richer by taxing customers more than before is a strange idea: “Tax and grow rich.” It sounds like Keynesianism because it is Keynesianism.

    No, because all government spending is always a tax on someone. Thus, the decision is made at the time the money gets spent.

    Actually in the USA, government spending as a fraction of GDP has been going down since the peak of “stimulus” spending in 2009. Here’s the chart:

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/fredgraph.png?g=iF2K

    Admittedly, it could go down more, but the current situation is about the same as the middle of the Reagan years, not exactly a disaster.

  35. alexnoaholdmate

    This is a pretty easy equation.

    Free trade is great.

    What the US is being subjected to by unelected officials in Europe and mandarins in China is not free trade. At all.

    Therefore, why should the US suffer for their breaking the rules?

    If you’re playing a game of rugby and the other team wears knuckle dusters – and the refs, the governing body, and all the other teams together concur that that’s within the spirit of the game – wouldn’t you be a dill if you continued to be the only team WITHOUT them?

  36. Rob MW

    What the US is being subjected to by unelected officials in Europe and mandarins in China is not free trade. At all.

    Absolutely correct.

    It seems that a couple of dimwits here are onto something. Apparently they can’t recognise a red flag, one that is in the distance, perhaps they will be able to recognise multiple red flags at close quarters, then soil their pants.

    This is not free trade you couple of morons, it’s a recognisable red flag.

  37. Malcolm Thomas

    The level of ignorance about the arguments for free trade on this comments thread is embarrassing. Lowering your country’s trade baffle is not about altruism, it is about self interest. But the mercantalist nostrums getting a run here show little understanding of this.
    As for Steve, LOL.

  38. Felix Kruell

    This is hardly a return to Smoot-Hawley, and if it protects Republican majorities in the House and Senate, the small ripple effects on the American and world economies will be worth the extra few dollars Americans pay for the goods and services they buy.

    You give up your free trade ideals for protecting republican majorities?

    Is there any policy that Trump could possibly announce that you wouldn’t find a way to support?

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