Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Will Trump Turn His Bullying Ways On Senate Republicans?

 (via National Geographic)
UPDATE 2 Below: Trump weighs in

By Robert Wenzel

There is still a tiny bit of Republican desire in the Senate for a tiny bit of free market policy.

Multiple outlets report that an early stage Senate Republican rebellion is developing against President Trump's desire to impose new tariffs on Mexican imports into the United States.

Republican senators railed against Trump's threatened tariffs against Mexico in a private lunch on Tuesday with White House and Justice Department officials, reports CNN.

The New York Times reports that the Republican opposition was nearly unanimous:
Republican senators sent the White House a sharp message on Tuesday, warning that they were almost uniformly opposed to President Trump’s plans to impose tariffs on Mexican imports, just hours after the president said lawmakers would be “foolish” to try to stop him.
“I want you to take a message back” to the White House, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas told the lawyers, White House deputy counsel Pat Philbin and Assistant Attorney General Steve Engel, representing the White House at the meeting. He told them that “you didn’t hear a single yes” from the Republican conference. He called the proposed tariffs a $30 billion tax increase on Texans.

“We’re holding a gun to our own heads,” said Republican Senator John Cornyn, also of Texas.

Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, said he warned the lawyers that the Senate could muster an overwhelming majority to beat back the tariffs, even if Trump were to veto a resolution disapproving them.

“There is not much support for tariffs in my conference, that’s for sure,” said Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In fact, there is just no constituency for these tariffs anywhere in D.C.

Even White House advisers up and down the line, except for trade-hater Peter Navarro, have all advised against imposing the tariffs, including Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. But Trump is just infatuated with tariffs. As Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) reportedly put it: The administration "is trying to use tariffs to solve every problem but HIV and climate change.” Trump is threatening to implement the new tariffs on Mexico as a way to force the country to slow down the number of immigrants crossing into the United States from Mexico.

Republicans are hoping that a White House meeting Wednesday, between Mexican officials and US officials including Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, will result in some kind of deal.

 "I know the Mexican delegation is here. Apparently, these talks are going well and our hope is that the tariffs will be avoided," McConnell told reporters.

But part of the problem is that no one knows what Trump is demanding to halt the implementation of the tariffs. As ABC News notes, "It is unclear what more Mexico can do — and what would be enough — to satisfy Trump on illegal immigration."

From The New York Times:
Mr. Trump seemed unimpressed when a reporter noted that Mexican officials said that they had increased the number of migrants they had apprehended coming into their country from elsewhere in Central America. He offered no specifics on what it would take to keep the tariffs from being imposed.
The problem is that what we have in the current president is a bully. He has no qualms about using his bullying style against foreign leaders. Further, he is a pure Neanderthal when it comes to his perspective on trade and the worst kind of nationalist when it comes to immigrants.

In addition, he is unpredictable. He is a walking, talking example of the Bob Higgs' concept of regime uncertainty. No one knows what is going to happen---or how.

As for the "how," there appear to be two options by which Trump could implement the tariffs, both with their unique problems

From Politico:
The president could use the existing national emergency declaration on the border wall to impose the new tariffs or he could declare a second emergency to unlock new tariff authority. But the officials did not definitively say what Trump will do and how he will do it, frustrating Republicans given that Trump has said he would make the decision in less than a week.

If Trump tries to move under the first national emergency declaration, he could face a vote in September that blocks both his unilateral move for wall funds and new tariffs. If he declares a new one, he could set up rolling votes to block each emergency every six month if he leaves them in place.

The administration is essentially in uncharted territory with its threats to use unilateral tariff authority, and Republicans left the lunch still confused about how the tariffs would be applied and the underlying legal reasoning behind them.
It's a remarkable mess. No one knows if Trump will declare victory after Wednesday's meetings and call off the tariffs or go full Neanderthal bully against Mexico---and Senate Republicans.

Senator Rand Paul expects a Trump attempt at tariff implementation.

"I think there will end up being a vote on this and I really do think that there may be enough numbers of people who think we shouldn't be allowing one person to make this decision, that we may actually have enough to override a veto on this," he said during an interview with CNN's Newsroom.

Rand then made the sound point that the threat of tariffs against Mexico, which is the second-largest trading partner to the U.S., sends a "bad signal" as the Trump administration simultaneously tries to push through a new free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. To "then to go back and say: 'Oh by the way we're going to heap on other tariffs,' I think this goes a long way to destroying the trade deal." Now that's bully style.

And more bullying: Trump thinks he is veto-proof because of House Republicans who will not challenge him.
Answer to Trump: Senate Republicans don't support him because tariffs would be destructive now as they always are.


US and Mexico trade officials have failed to reach a deal on tariffs and immigration after meeting at the White House.

An escalating tariff starting at 5% across Mexican goods imported into the U.S. is scheduled to go into effect on June 10.


Trump weighs in:

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of and Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank and most recently Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. More about Wenzel here.

1 comment:

  1. Next act is for El Jefe to slap tariffs on the US states from which senators who are opposing him come.