Wednesday, September 23, 2020

President Donald J. Trump Delivers for American Workers

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
President Donald J. Trump Delivers for American Workers
by David Trumbull -- September 18, 2020

Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That deal would have destroyed millions of U.S. jobs. I understand why Obama pursued it. The idea was that the loss of millions of Americans jobs was an acceptable cost of linking the U.S. and Vietnam to provide an offset to China's hegemony in East Asia. I didn't believe that it would work that way, and the fact that China was rapidly building new factories in Vietnam in anticipation of TPP is evidence, at least to me, that I was right. TPP was not going to re-balance power in East Asia and those millions of American jobs would have been lost with nothing gained.

Trump vowed to re-negotiate NAFTA and there was outcry on the right and left than that was an outrageous thing. The fact is that we have renegotiated individual provisions in NAFTA hundreds of times (I wrote some of those proposals that ended up being accepted by the three nations), Trump merely set out to do a more thorough version of what we had been doing piece-meal all along. NAFTA is 25 years old, in our more recent agreements we learnt from the mistakes of NAFTA and created better agreements, Trump took the lessons learnt and went back to Canada and Mexico and got us a better agreement. Of course, the new agreement had to go to congress for approval, which it got, because it was evident to everyone that Trump got us a better deal.

The old NAFTA had problems, but nothing in comparison to the damage that China was inflicting on the U.S. When China entered the WTO at the end of 2001 it got all the benefits of membership, and while it committed to observing the disciplines of membership, it has not. Year after year the U.S. government issued a written report on the many ways that China was not living up to its WTO commitments and how that was harming the U.S. economy. And year after year the U.S. did nothing about it. Trump bypassed congress and invoked Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to unilaterally impose a 25% tariff on most goods from China.

Almost all my clients are paying that tariff. They have no choice. China's illegal trade practices have put out of business entire industries in all other countries. Almost all of these companies paying the tariff say that Trump is doing what must be done because just as all their suppliers outside of China have been put out of business by China, they believe that, without this strong action, they would be the next targeted by China for elimination. Now, during the pandemic, Trump is keeping these U.S. companies afloat by invoking the Defense Production Act.

I also have clients in the New England lobster industry who were at a disadvantage relative to Canadian lobster men because Canadian lobster enter the EU duty-free while U.S. lobster are subject to import duty. Trump got the EU to give U.S. lobster's duty-free parity with Canadian, without the U.S. making any significant trade concessions to the EU. On September 14 the Trump administration published notice of a new $527 million seafood trade relief program that will pay licensed fishermen up to $250,000 to offset sales lost due to China's tariffs on U.S. seafood.

Prior to the election I was skeptical about Trump. I liked what he said about trade, but I wasn't sure he had specific actions to put in place. As president he has far exceeded what I dreamed possible.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Hurray for Trump Rallies

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
Hurray for Trump Rallies
by David Trumbull -- June 19, 2020

When I was young, my family, like most American families, would gather around the television at least a few nights a week and enjoy entertainment that offered something for everyone. The marvelous variety shows -- Ed Sullivan of course the biggest shoe-- were where Americans were fist introduced to some of the rock bands whose music we still listen to six decades later. They also featured comedy, acrobatics, juggling, you name it. If you could put it on TV, it was there in an hour-long program, with the host as the center around which the entire circus revolved. In other words, they were in the 1960s what a Trump rally is in 2020.

"By the way, is there anything more fun than a Trump rally? Is there? Seriously. And we break every attendance record every single time, just about." -- Donald J. Trump.

The Trump rallies are back! For the Saturday, June 20, 2020, rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the campaign reports they received 800,000 requests for tickets. Fox News is the top cable news network in large part because it shows every Trump rally. Each Trump rally brings Fox about 5 million viewers.

It's the best TV on TV. You get music, lots of fun upbeat music, the sort of music that back in the day of network TV you would have gotten on those variety shows that filled our 23-inch screens. Some of the artists object to their music playing at Trump rallies. But as Mick Jagger found out when he tried to stop it, "You can't always get what you want." If the venue has a license to play your song, there isn't much you can do about it in most cases.

The music at Trump rallies will go on, and the crowd will go wild. There will be clapping, dancing, jumping around. I have never seen people at a political event having so much fun. Sure, at both parties' national conventions the balloons will drop when the nomination becomes official, music will play, and people will cheer, but the whole thing is so choreographed and staged that it will be a bore -- nothing like the energy at a Trump rally.

What is a TV variety show without a clown? At a Trump rally you can be sure to see some clown who waited outside in the heat or cold for many hours to get in and immediately get himself thrown out for an attempted disruption. Apparently, it never occurs to them that one voice in a backrow seat in a 20,000 person arena can't be heard, so no one will even know why you are protesting. Maybe they don't even know themselves why they are protesting. One thing is clear, the Trump supporters know why they are there. For a quarter of a century they saw America being taken away from ordinary Americans, and taken over by a small elite class that thinks the rest of us are deplorable.

Trump wants to give America back to us deplorables. And, in the process, he's giving us the greatest show on TV.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Trump Takes ACTION, not Meetings

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
Trump Takes ACTION, not Meetings
by David Trumbull -- February 20, 2020

"To build on our incredible economic success, one priority is paramount -- reversing decades of calamitous trade policies." -- President Donald J. Trump

President Trump is turning back the failed trade policies of past administrations that closed more than 60,000 American factories and shipped millions of jobs overseas. In the decades following NAFTA's implementation and China's accession to the WTO, America lost 1 in 4 manufacturing jobs.

No longer is America turning a blind eye towards the unfair trade policies that have harmed American companies and workers for far too long. President Trump has delivered for the American people -- negotiating new trade deals that put Americans first.

President Trump signed USMCA into law, making good on his promise to terminate NAFTA, and replace it with a much better deal for the American people.

The President confronted China's unfair trade policies head-on and imposed historic tariffs, resulting in a groundbreaking phase one trade agreement with China. This agreement will begin rebalancing our trade relations, protect American intellectual property, combat counterfeit trafficking, and expand markets for American businesses. In the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama I used to attend quarterly briefings in Washington on developments in trade. Each time, someone from the administration would present a fairly detailed report on all the illegal trade practices of China. We'd ask the administration spokesperson, "What are you doing about this?" The answer was always the same, "We had a meeting with the Chinese recently and we are planning for another meeting soon." Meetings, meetings, meetings -- that all. Trump takes action!

Almost all my clients are getting hit by Trump's 25% tariff on Chinese goods. They can't easily move their sourcing out of China, because the unfair and illegal trade practices of China have destroyed entire industries in the U.S. and elsewhere. China is now the sole source for certain raw materials and intermediate goods needed by U.S. manufacturers. New factories could be built outside of China, but that will take years. So, these U.S. manufacturers are stuck with China and a 25% tariff as the only way to operate. And you know what? Almost every one of them says that Trump took the right action. Just as China put out of business all other sources for these U.S. manufacturers to buy from, they see that they could be the next ones put out of business by China if the U.S. does not act as Trump has.

Thanks to the President’s efforts, we have signed two new trade agreements with Japan that will benefit American agricultural exports and grow our digital trade for the future. Japan will open its market to approximately $7 billion in American agricultural exports. The President’s efforts will help boost the already approximately $40 billion worth of digital trade between our two countries.

The President has renegotiated our trade deal with South Korea, providing a boost to America’s auto industry.

The President is working to negotiate even more new trade deals in the coming year.

Manufacturers around the country are adding thousands of new, high-paying jobs for American workers. Since the President’s election, more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been added to the American economy. Comparatively, 20,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in the 12 months prior to the election. Blue collar workers, on average, are on track to see almost $2,500 more in annual wages.

Trump Trade Agenda Results in Blue-Collar Boom

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
Trump Trade Agenda Results in Blue-Collar Boom
by David Trumbull -- March 20, 2020

On February 28, 2020, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer delivered President Trump's Trade Policy Agenda and Annual Report to Congress, highlighting how the Administration’s aggressive trade actions have resulted in a "blue-collar boom" with higher wages, more jobs and a stronger economy for all.

Going forward, the report states that President Trump will continue to rebalance America's trade relationships to benefit American workers, aggressively enforce U.S. trade laws, and take prompt action in response to unfair trade practices by other nations.

The President achieved more trade successes over the last 12 months than prior administrations achieved in a typical decade. The result is a stronger economy, rising wages and more jobs -- including more manufacturing jobs.

While 15,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in the 12 months prior to President Trump's election, more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been added to the American economy since then.

Real median household income is now at the highest level ever recorded. Wages are growing faster for nearly all groups, but historically disadvantaged groups are seeing the fastest growth.

Wealth inequality has finally declined, as the share of net worth held by the bottom 50 percent of households has increased while the share held by the top one percent of households has decreased.

President Trump kept his promise and confronted China over its unfair trade practices, after years of little more than talk from Washington. The enforceable and historic Phase One Agreement he signed requires major structural changes by China relating to intellectual property protection, technology transfer, agricultural standards, financial services, and currency, while maintaining leverage with significant tariffs on $370 billion worth of imports from China.

President Trump kept his promise to end NAFTA by replacing it with a far better agreement -- the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The USMCA is a 21th century agreement that will lead to fairer trade and robust economic growth in North America.

The USMCA encourages U.S. manufacturing by requiring high-wage labor content for autos; strengthens supply chains to provide new market opportunities for the U.S. textile and apparel sector; provides strong protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights; includes the strongest labor provisions of any trade agreement; expands market access for American food and agricultural products; contains the strongest disciplines on digital trade of any international agreement; and makes environmental obligations fully enforceable.

The Administration's goals for the next year include:

New trade agreements with the United Kingdom, the European Union and Kenya, which would be the United States' first free trade agreement in sub-Saharan Africa.

Enforcement of commitments by our trading partners in trade agreements, including the USMCA, the China Phase One Agreement and WTO agreements.

Limiting the WTO to its original purpose of serving as a forum for nations to negotiate trade agreements, monitor compliance with agreements, and facilitate the member-driven resolution of international trade disputes.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Trump Has Our Back

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
by David Trumbull
January 17, 2020

A little more than a year into Trump’s presidency I had dinner with a friend who is the pastor of a church in the Reform tradition, but who came from the Evangelical tradition. I’m a Catholic, so our combined experiences cover most of the Christian experience in American. We were talking about how clueless the media are about Trump and his appeal. My friend noted that the media doesn’t understand why Evangelicals support Trump. I responded, “I can sum it up in one word, ‘Cy’” and my friend responded with, “rus.” We were referring to Cyrus the Great, the Sixth Century B.C. king of Persia who released the Jews from their Babylonian captivity, returned them to their homeland, decreed that the temple in Jerusalem be rebuilt, and provided the money to build it. You can read the account in the Bible, in verses one though eight of the first chapter of the Book of Ezra, as well as several favorable mentions in the Book of Isaiah.

There is no record, not even a hint, that Cyrus became a worshipper of the God of the Jews. His policy of religious tolerance was applied across his empire to all religions. He took the golden temple vessels that the Babylonians had seized from the Jerusalem temple and returned them to the Jews, but there is also an account of his paying for the restoration of a Babylonia idol. In short, he seems to have understood that the best way to rule a multi-ethnic empire with many religions was to be the guarantor of freedom to any and all religions. He wasn't a Jew, but as we say, he had their back. In fact, according to the Bible, he was chosen by God.

Fast forward about 850 years to the Year of Our Lord 313. That's when the persecuted Christians in the Roman Empire gained their freedom of religion. Emperor Constantine the Great issued the Edict of Milan which, like Cyrus' policy, established freedom of religion in the Empire for all faiths. In the Eastern Church Constantine is recognized as a saint. In the Western Church he is highly revered, but not officially recognized as a saint. His personal live was hardly saintly, he had his wife and child murdered, and was otherwise cruel when he believed the situation called for cruelty. Perhaps his knowledge that governing the Empire would require ruthless acts was why he delayed Christian Baptism until he was on his deathbed (Baptism washes away all sins). During his life, Constantine was favorable to Christians, but he was not one himself and -- he had their back.

In 2012 President Obama pushed for an Obamacare mandate that if enforced in the way he wanted would have forced the closure of Catholic and many Protestant hospitals and schools. It was clearly unconstitutional, but the legal battles alone would likely have been crippling to faith institutions. In response, here in heavily Catholic Boston Cardinal O'Malley urged us to pray:

"Almighty God, Father of all nations, for freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus. We praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty, the foundation of human rights, justice and the common good. Grant to our leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties; by your grace may we have the courage to defend them for ourselves and for all those who live in this blessed land. We ask this through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness, and in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, with whom you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

Many people of various religions in America believe that prayer may have been answered on November 8, 2016. Is President Trump my idea of a good example of Christian living? No. He doesn’t have to be one of us to have our back.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Trump’s Tariffs Target China’s Unfair Trade Practices

I applaud President Trump’s use of tariffs in response to China’s intellectual property abuse. I especially welcome the proposal to add all finished apparel and home textile furnishings to a fourth list of retaliatory tariffs. The U.S. has imposed tariffs pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which authorizes the President to take such action when a trading partner is found to have acts, policies, or practices that are unreasonable or discriminatory and that burden or restrict U.S. commerce. A seven-month-long investigation determined that China systematically engages in acts, policies or practices that are actionable under Section 301. The administration would be acting recklessly and with disregard of the facts documented in the 301 investigation if it failed to impose a traderemedy in the face of China’s unfair trade practices.

What will be the effect of a 25% tariff on apparel and home textiles of Chinese origin? For the American consumer the effect will be negligible. Back-to-school shoppers will fi nd shops and online vendors fully stocked with the articles they need, and at a price they can afford. Take for example, a pair of children’s blue jeans. Currently, as imported from China, those jeans, that retail at around $20, are imported at an average cost of $4.61. A 25% tariff would add $1.15 to the importers’ cost. Even if the entire increase were passed on to the consumer, that’s just a 6% hike. More likely most, or all, would be absorbed at the various levels of the supply chain. That is, if the brands and retailers decide to stick with Chinese sourcing.

Cost-sensitive brands and retailers might, however, decide that the increase is unacceptable. In that case, they can source elsewhere and avoid the 25% tariff. The U.S. has free trade agreements in place with 12 nations here in the Western Hemisphere. With a 25% tariff, in addition to the general duty, Chinese-origin jeans will cost $6.53. That makes sourcing from our regional FTA partners, at an average cost of $5.66, look very attractive. Additionally, when apparel is made in our regional partners, there is a good likelihood that it will contain U.S. inputs. Any shifting of sourcing away from China into our Western Hemisphere supply chain is certain to result in more U.S. textile production and more good-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs.

It is well past the time to do something to counter against China’s unfair trade practices. Year after year, since China’s WTO accession in 2001, USTR has issued an annual Reports to Congress on China’s WTO Compliance, and year after year, the report says the same thing — “Real progress was made, but much more work remains to be done” and “The Special 301 report again placed China on the Priority Watch List and the Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets featured Chinese markets prominently.” In our approach to China’s unfair trade practices we’ve been doing the same thing and expecting different results. That is why I appreciate this administration’s willingness to try a new, and I believe productive, approach to the China problem.

I understand the difficult situation some manufacturers are in, when inputs not available from any source other than China are on a 301 retaliation list. I urge the administration to release a transparent and expeditious exclusion process that is effective and mitigates the impact on textile producers. I note that for the first two lists, which had exclusion provisions that process is moving forward and, where merited, exclusions are being granted to some U.S. manufacturers who have become collateral damage in this trade action. The fact that some inputs can be sourced only from China should itself be a concern. Years of unchecked unfair trade practices on the part of China have driven other sources out of the market entirely. These tariffs, if maintained, can lead to both more U.S. production and a diversification of our foreign sourcing.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Foreign Intervention

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
Foreign Intervention
by David Trumbull - July 21, 2017

Okay, I'll admit it. If it weren't for foreign intervention in America, Donald Trump would likely not be president.

I mean that if the French had not intervened in the Revolutionary War, we likely would not have a president at all. We'd likely be one of the Commonwealth nations with a parliamentary system with a prime minister as head of the government and Queen Elizabeth II as titular head of state.

The American Revolutionary War began April 19, 1775, here in Massachusetts. The war became a fight for independence with the July 1776 adoption by the Americans' Continental Congress of the Declaration of Independence. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, September 3, 1783.

As a young schoolboy, I was taught how the Americans used unconventional fighting methods and had the advantage of fighting, on their own land, for their own land. It helped, too, that their cause was just. Washington's aide, the French aristocrat General Lafayette, was praised, and the contribution of the French mentioned, but just barely. In fact, it is not at all clear that the Americans could have defeated the British without the assistance of the Kingdom of France. We also had support from the Dutch Republic and the Kingdom of Spain.

This year we commemorate the centennial of the United States' entry into World War I, on April 6, 1917. The war in Europe had been grinding on since the late summer of 1914. Just as French arms and men sent to America in the Revolutionary War may been the final necessary element of Patriot victory, so, too, the American Expeditionary Forces -- over a million strong -- under John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing, broke the stalemate of the War to End All Wars.

The popular song, "Good-Bye Broadway, Hello France," (composed by Billy Baskette, with lyrics written by C. Francis Reisner and Benny Davis) -- a huge musical hit exactly one hundred years ago this year -- made clear the connection between French assistance to the U.S. in our war of independence and America's assistance to France in The Great War.

'Vive Pershing' is the cry across the sea.
We're united in this fight for liberty.
France sent us a soldier, brave Lafayette
Whose great deeds and fame we cannot forget.
Now that we have the chance,
We'll pay our debt to France.