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Sunday, April 08, 2018


Donald's unnatural disaster

by Tom Sullivan

They wanted it so badly. Planned for it. Stumped on it. Dreamed about their tax cut. Then finally they got it. Now the president has trodden it into the mud.

The Dow Jones average is already down 9 percent from its January high.

President short-attention-span has moved on from the GOP's tax cut triumph. That win is old news. The buzz has worn off. He needs another fix. Orders, more executive orders he can sign and show off to the cameras like a child with a fresh finger painting. Republicans in Washington who expected to run mid-term campaigns boasting about their tax cut now find it eclipsed by Trump's trade war.


Trump announced plans Thursday for $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports, on top of $50 billion outlined last month, after the Chinese proposed their own $50 billion countermeasures.

The back and forth threats, none of which have been implemented, have nevertheless triggered dramatic fluctuations in the stock market and produced anxiety for American companies, consumers and farmers in red states, who are facing targeted duties on valuable soybean exports.

“If the tariffs raise prices on American consumers, then that will negate part of the positive impact of the tax cut. It’s the government giving the tax cut with the right hand and taking it away with the tariff with the left one,” said Stephen Moore, a distinguished visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation and one of the architects of the Trump campaign’s tax plan.
Andy Roth, vice president of government affairs at the conservative Club for Growth, called Trump's trade war "a huge unforced error.” A conservative tax lobbyist tells Politico, “The evidence of the tax cut working is getting yanked away. Conservatives and business groups aren’t sure what to do about it because no one wants to be the target of a Trump tweet.”

The Chinese have already responded to Trump's trade threats with tariffs targeting "precisely those industries that are linked to states Trump carried," writes Jonathan Tobin in the National Review.

The New York Times reports a trade war further complicates GOP strategy going into the mid-terms:
While the battle for control of the House will be waged in large part in the suburbs, rural districts in Southern Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas and Missouri could prove important. And control of the Senate could come down to Republican efforts to unseat Democrats in North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri and Montana — all states staring down the barrels of a trade war’s guns.

With farmers angry and worried as China vows to retaliate, many Republicans find themselves torn between loyalty to a president who remains broadly popular in rural states and the demands of constituents, especially farmers, to oppose his tariffs.

In North Dakota, a major soybean-producing state, Representative Kevin Cramer, a Republican who is running for the Senate, sounded restrained this past week when he urged Mr. Trump to “take a more measured approach” to China. By Friday, he sounded panicked.
Trump has directed the Department of Agriculture to implement plans to minimize the harm to framers using powers in the past used to mitigate natural disasters and wildfires — perhaps appropriate in describing this administration. But there are few details, and they could be costly at a time when deficits generated by the GOP tax cuts become manifest.

The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" was a staple cut played over the end of Trump rallies during his campaign. Red-state believers who paid no attention then may get another chance to pay soon enough. Investors ditched agriculture-linked stocks on Friday, the Times reports.

TV pundit Larry Kudlow, Trump's new economic advisor, told reporters on Wednesday the threat of trade sanctions might just be a negotiating tactic. On Friday, Kudlow said the opposite, claiming he had just heard about the additional $100 billion in tariffs Trump announced on imports from China.

To give reporters and advisors fair warning the president's mood has changed, someone at the White House might want to install a wind sock on the roof.

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For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.