Monday, December 05, 2016

Does Trump Stand For Something?


As you can see from the twitter time stamps, El Presidente-elect Señor Trumpanzee only got-- at most-- 6 hours sleep, probably less. He was up whining about Alex Baldwin's acting ability late Saturday night and then six hours later he had apparently chopped up some Adderall, snorted it and was off and running threatening American companies with 35% tariffs if they manufacture their products abroad, something that is going to be very popular with his voters and with Bernie's voters but probably not that popular with Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, their respective conferences or, for that matter, the Trumpanzee Cabinet.

Evan McMullin, who's become something of the voice of mainstream conservatism in opposition to Trump, called Trump's tariff threats "incredibly unwise and will discourage companies from creating jobs in the US in the first place. This is not a recipe for growth... And again, this is the approach of an authoritarian. Forget about the rule of law. Forget Congress's constitutional role in lawmaking." He then went on the slag off Mike Pence (after his silly appearance on This Week defending Trump's tweet storm) as Trumpanzee's "enabler in chief & we can expect him to continue to play that role. But other Republicans must stand up."

I'm not sure when other Republicans will but it's worth noting that Harvard Professor Robert Lawrence was right on top of it back in March when he called out Trump's hypocrisy on this very issue for PBS. Is Trump going to slap a tariff on all the products Ivanka manufactures overseas too? "Trump," he wrote at the time, "castigates American companies like Apple, Ford, Carrier and Kraft that use their brands to sell goods in the U.S., but produce them in other countries. Indeed, he appears to be so outraged by the practice that he proposes a 15 percent tax on companies for outsourcing jobs and a 20 percent tax for importing goods. More recently, he has spoken of a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports... Yet despite these deep convictions, when it comes to his own businesses, Trump doesn’t exactly walk the walk."
[M]any of Trump’s businesses are based not on risking his money and directly creating employment in the United States, but in licensing his brand to help others sell their properties and products. As is now well known, the Trump brand has been used to sell casinos, condominiums, hotels and golf courses at home and abroad, as well as steaks, vodka and a “university” education... But for exploring whether he puts his moniker where his mouth is when it comes to trade, it’s the branch of the business labeled merchandise that merits closer attention.

In a recent debate Marco Rubio mentioned ties. But the ties made in China are just the tip of the iceberg. What about Donald J Trump sports jackets, cufflinks and eyeglass frames? All made in China. Inexpensive Donald J Trump shirts? Made in Bangladesh. More expensive Trump shirts? “Imported.” The Trump brand also has a more feminine side-- the Ivanka Trump brand. And where are the dresses, purses, shoes and other accessories that reflect Trump’s daughter’s taste made? Of the 838 Ivanka products advertised through the site, none appear to be made exclusively in the U.S.; 628 are said to be imported and 354 made specifically in China.

If you are an American economist like myself who believes that international trade is good for the U.S., there is nothing wrong with what the Trumps have been doing. Indeed, he and his daughter have been providing Americans with products they want at relatively low prices. But how do you reconcile a business model based on importing with professions of deep belief that manufacturing should be brought back to America? Trump argues he has no choice, since foreigners have made their products so cheap by manipulating their exchange rates. But then how do you explain the utter contempt he has expressed on the campaign trail about others who outsource when he is doing exactly the same thing? If Trump won’t buy Oreos on moral grounds, why should any moral person, following his example, buy Trump-branded merchandise?

For a “premium brand,” the prices of Donald Trump merchandise seem within the reach of the typical American. Suits at $250, sport coats at $125, though the ties are somewhat steep — typically around $65. But as president, Trump proposes to add 20 to 45 percent to their cost.

It is obvious that consumers, already hard pressed by weak income growth, would see their buying power further constrained. But many would also discover their jobs are threatened. Our economy is currently deeply linked to the rest of the world, and millions of U.S. workers are employed in companies that sell imported goods and use imported components in the products they manufacture in the USA. Trump’s tariffs would wreak havoc with global supply chains and force many companies to reduce employment. In addition, foreigners would undoubtedly retaliate against our exports as they would be entitled to do under our trade agreements. Think about what a trade war would do to investment and employment. But who knows? If the Trump presidential seal graces the products that are sold under the Trump brand, perhaps the average American will still buy what he is selling.
Justin Amash (R-MI) tweeted a demeaning response to Trump's tweet-storm: "This would be a 35% tax on all Americans—a tax that especially hurts low-income families. Maybe the slogan should be #MakeAmericaVenezuela." Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported on a potential dustup between Trump and free-traders in the Ryan camp chugging down the road in this direction. Trump will have Bernie on his side in this one-- and the American people and it will be an opportunity for him to tame Ryan-- if Ryan is foolish enough to go toward with him over it. Brody Mullins wrote that "setting the stage for what could be the first clash between President-elect Donald Trump and Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan and some congressional Republicans are raising concerns about a provision in a bill that would require the use of American-made iron and steel for U.S. water infrastructure projects. The bill, which provides billions of dollars in federal funding, initially included a requirement that federal money could largely only be used to buy U.S.-produced iron and steel. In recent days, Mr. Ryan and other Republicans have begun raising objections, saying the requirement would pick winners and losers among U.S. companies and shouldn’t be included in the final legislation."
“We will have two simple rules when it comes to this massive rebuilding effort: Buy American and hire American,” Mr. Trump said at a rally Thursday evening in Cincinnati. “Whether it is producing steel, building cars or curing disease, we want the next generation of innovation and production to happen right here in America and right here in Ohio, right?”

On Friday, a spokeswoman for Mr. Ryan said the final version of the bill was still under discussion. Congress hopes to approve the bill next week before leaving town for the year.
I guess Obama could sign it and save the Republicans from a potentially serious bloodletting. Jerry Nadler: "A lot of Republicans have historically opposed Buy in America. This is one of a number of areas where we’re going to see the Republicans [who] go along with general Republican doctrine and [those who side with] Trump are different on some things."

Have the Democrats offered a coherent response to Trumpism? Stirling Newberry reminded us Sunday morning that "the neo-Democrat only cares about the rich people's mess, the rest of us will go slowly downhill." Former policy advisor to Grayson and to Bernie, Matt Stoller let loose a now famous Tweet-storm over the weekend that stands as a powerful critique of the Democrats' inability to copy with Trump, who he equates with "a pre-1930s Republican, uniting farmers, workers, and big biz behind tariffs and anti-immigration walls," at least rhetorically. "What people don't get is that the Dem Party he's facing is NOT the party of the New Deal. It is NOT the party of the people anymore. The party of the people was assaulted in the 1970s and killed over the next 20 years by the neoliberals. It died with Clinton's election. I documented the underlying ideological change here, from an anti-monopoly party to a pro-monopoly party.

"You can see this everywhere if you look. The leaders of the party are from NY and SF, the centers of concentrated monopoly capital. The revolt in 2010, 2014, and 2016 was largely rural. These were the final revolts that started in the early 1980s. Carter and Volcker wiped out farms en masse. Farmers in 1979 tried to shut down DC with tractors over high interest rate policies. Reagan, Bush amplified the financial concentration trend, and Clinton took it global. Obama in 2008 largely ran against this. Obama's campaign in 2008 was organized AGAINST monopoly. He said he'd renegotiate NAFTA. He beat Clinton in Iowa going after big ag.

"But he governed consistent with the ideology of the neoliberals. He broke his promises to stop this concentration. The foreclosure fraud epidemic caused mass suffering. The failure to jail any bankers were unjust. But they were part of a vision. This vision was that of technocracy, or a set of credentialed people who are smarter and better than you making key decisions.

"Deplorables, or fake news, or voters as ignorant are ideological statements-- part of this vision of people as incapable of self-gov't. But this vision is NOT consistent with populism. It conflicts w/corruption as conflicts of interest, revolving door, privatization. Geithner, for instance, cheated on his taxes. Banks close to him saw a stock price boost when he was appointed. He ran a foreclosure program designed to steal money from people and hand it to banks under the guise of helping avoid foreclosures. People who think that Trump was appealing to the working class solely based on their ignorance are ignorant of this track record.

"Until people are willing to internalize the policy framework of Clinton and Obama, they cannot rebut the arguments from Trump. Because fundamentally, Trump's pitch is that the rule of law is a joke and that having a strongman on your side is all that matters. This is now the attitude of the financial and business elite. That law is for little people. They can just hire smart lawyers. It is ALSO how the Clinton and Obama frameworks were organized. There is a difference though b/n them and Trump. The way that neoliberals deliver social justice is through the dole, or what we call Obamacare, transfer payments, job training. This is a variant of humiliating people with charity. It is explicitly not what the party of the people was about. Paul Krugman's "Let them eat transfer payments" is the slight of hand he always plays with events like Carrier. They are voting against their self-interest. But their self-interest isn't the dole! They want jobs! They want self-government.

"Trump is pitching not self-government, but a wall to protect them against neoliberals and a strongman to mock their enemies. It's not really what they want. Trump was not popular. But it's their version of the neoliberal deal of symbolic racial diversity. The ignorance is a choice, a choice that your facts don't matter. Just like you've decided that foreclosures/offshoring doesn't matter. The thing is, neoliberalism and Trumpism are BOTH incompatible with self-government, except among a select few. Few want either. Until we can recognize that it is concentrated financial power-- monopoly-- extending power over all of us, we will dance to their tune.

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At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent points made.

Voters still don't get it. Democraps are money whores who favor in deeds whatever the money wants.

Voters still believe in the myth that democraps are still the party of the 99.99% which hasn't been true for nearly 40 years.

(corollary: voters are dumber than shit)

And, finally, voters are too stupid for (useful) self rule.

It goes without saying that der fuhrer stands for self-enrichment with a minor in self worship. He and his advisors, evidently, are indifferent to us law (nominating mad dog is illegal) and international mores (the Taiwan meeting most recently). But a ticket of cheney and bush (both from texas) was also unconstitutional and nobody did or said shit.

Sherman is over a century old, still effective, yet nobody since Carter has enforced it.
torture is against us law. period. doesn't matter what Nazi lawyers say.
bank fraud is against the law. period. Banks have ADMITTED to, literally, MILLIONS of felonies, yet nobody gets indicted.
and so on.

So, der drumpfmeister will be just the next in a long line of elitists who cherry-pick what laws matter and which ones don't... and just make up law as they go whenever it suits them, their pals and their respective bottom lines.

At 8:21 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

Donald Trump stands for nothing but himself. It was apparent throughout this election.

There are so many reasons why Hillary lost and Trump won.

While Obama certainly did some good, his committed two major faults as soon as he took office - he did not appoint special prosecutors to go after the bankers that caused the huge 2008 crash or the Bush/Cheney crowd for all of the illegalities they committed with the Iraq war. He did not follow FDR, who did so. Obama seemed to view this as inappropriate vengeance against the Republicans rather than see it for what it was, tremendous corruption against the American people. Obama did not stand up for the laws of the land or the Constitution and gave all of them a pass. A BIG MISTAKE. Was he so blind and naive that he thought playing nice would work out better for all of us? Did he not realize that they would NEVER play nice? If the bankers and Bush et al. had been thrown under the spotlight for the American people to see all of their crimes (which were crystal clear and detailed in the news if people bothered to read, e.g., NY Times) and then receive the consequences for their sins that they deserved, justice would have been served. And the Republican Party would have suffered greatly for it. But no, he did not. Now look at what we have.

At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Trump stands for Freedom, Faith, Honesty in SMALL government and the holy Second Amendment. Something you amoral Libs don't understand. Expect a knock at the door of Mommy's basement next year, losers. The MEN are back in charge.

At 9:38 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

One word Failure.

At 10:52 AM, Blogger tony in san diego said...

"Democraps are money whores" FUck you. I am not a money whore. None of my friends are, the majority of ordinary voters who voted for Clinton are not money whores. It's always projection with you guys, isn't it.

At 10:54 AM, Blogger tony in san diego said...

(corollary: voters are dumber than shit)

And, finally, voters are too stupid for (useful) self rule.

I think you got that right, and look what who they voted for! An ignorant idiot.

At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

By Democraps, I mean the DNC, DxCCs and congress (a lot of local and state D functionaries too).

democrats -- little d -- are the hapless party members who vote and usually haven't anyone worthwhile to vote for.

If you raise money for the party, then you are in the big-D club and it fits.
If you don't raise money for the party, I ain't speakin to you.


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