Tag Archives: Congress

172. Tariffs Explained and Tariff Lies

15 May

JUST IN: Wall Street J. states that tariffs generally drag down ALL economies in the world, including ours. All markets have gone down. Trump’s tariff war with China is a poorly-planned  effort, which does not consider Chinese strengths and financial skills.

A tariff is a tax or duty to be paid on a particular class of imports (or exports). The tariff is paid by the importer. For example,  if we put a tariff on imports from China, the tariff  is paid by the US importer (not China). The tariff money does go to the US Treasury. So it is true that the US Gov does get increased income. I suspect that part of Trump’s need for tariffs is to make up for the disastrous loss of gov income due to wealthy tax giveaways.   Major blog points, below:

CHINA DOES NOT PAY TARIFFS IMPOSED BY USA
ALMOST ALL TARIFF COSTS ARE PASSED ON TO US CONSUMERS
ONLY CHINA CAN SUPPLY CERTAIN GOODS AT LOW COST
TARIFFS USUALLY RESULT IN MORE “TAX” FOR US CITIZENS

The Gov gets tariff money, but the US importer passes on the cost. The retailer, like Amazon or Walmart pays more for the product and so will pass that cost on to the customer. It is like an extra tax that WE pay.

Re US tariffs on Chinese goods, Trump says that you can get around the higher cost, by buying non-Chinese goods. The problem with that argument is that China has much lower prices than USA and other country’s manufacturers. Also, China provides us with special parts that would be difficult to find or develop elsewhere. So in the end, American customers will be paying more. The higher prices will decrease purchases and that will have a negative effect on our retailers and could cause general economic negatives. The trade war with China will be costly for our people and may well be  unsuccessful in its ultimate goal changing China policies.

Now let’s look at the other side: retaliatory tariff increases by the other country. In the case of China, every tariff imposed by Trump has a carefully targeted Chinese tariff imposed on our exports to them. If Chinese importers must pay a tariff then they are less likely to buy American products. This can negatively affect USA farmers and manufacturers. In fact, farmers and workers here are already suffering from the China tariffs.

The headline reads: “Soybean Farmer Loses From Retaliatory Tariffs With No Bailout Funds In Sight.”

The general fact is that Trump himself benefits from tariffs, but many US workers will suffer. Of course, the totally reliable Trump says he will pay the farmers for their losses (good luck to them). But won’t reimburse citizens for higher prices.

The Trump tariffs may have some positive effects (pure speculation) but there are already losses for the people. The China tariffs are an attack on China and the start of a trade war is not generally supported. And remember that China owns a lot of US debt. Tariff effects are complicated and can have negative effects on our citizens and on foreign respect for our government. Between trade wars and withdrawal from vital foreign agreements, who can trust the USA under Trump.  Also, I must bring up Trump’s withdrawal from the TPP (Pacific) trade agreement. This agreement was carefully developed under Obama to strengthen US trade relationships with Asian countries. Trump’s withdrawal has opened the door to China to become a leader in this world area. 

Trump and Republican tax law changes have resulted in a huge loss of revenue, which has promoted discussion of decreasing social programs like Medicare. Trump may like tariffs because they can make up for a little of the loss. It can be viewed as a further tax on the non-rich, so that the rich can have even more money.

Under Trump, there have been some improvements to our economy, but what is very important, many middle-class wages are stagnant and still very low.

165. Mueller Report Raises Constitutional Questions.

25 Apr

The Mueller Report and all of the gov investigations have made apparent, weaknesses in our system of government. Our system is better than most, but still could be improved.

First, consider that the USA Congress has 535 members. The Supreme Court has nine members. Universities have several regents. Corporations have a board of directors. The Federal Reserve board has seven members.  Yet, the USA has ONE President with great power (to possibly cause harm). Why don’t we elect a small group to make presidential decisions. For example, five “directors” could make all major decisions and the group could choose one member as “chairman” or President for ceremonial or communication purposes.

There are many parts of our governmental structure that could use revision. The above is one issue. Here are some others. There are two Senators from each state, regardless of state population. This is unfair to the people of California and other large states. We elect a president using an old system, the “electoral college.” Each voter in the USA should have an equal say in a presidential election, regardless of state borders. We have Congressional “grid-lock” because there are two houses of congress instead of one. We don’t need two houses to be cautious, we can simply have one body and adjust the number required for passage of a bill.

I am not going to make a detailed proposal for gov restructure in this blog. And, I know that major change is extremely difficult and unlikely in the near future. One reason why change is difficult, is that current leaders were elected under this system and so they favor the system that got them elected. And yet, unlikely things can happen, especially if the voters protest enough. 12 years ago, I would have said that a black president was very unlikely.

More closely related to the report, is the relationship between the President and the Department of Justice.  The DOJ must be more independent. One answer might be to elect the attorney general instead of the President appointing him/her.  Maybe the same for the Fed Reserve board chairman.

Another thought would be to have an “Independent Group” (IGroup) that would appoint federal judges, Fed Reserve members, the A.G., and maybe other positions. A state “IGroup” could also do state redistricting (Michigan is working on creating this kind of independent group). Any position that must be independent of the President should by chosen by that group. This IGroup could be elected, or could consist of reps from Repub and Dem parties chosen by nominated by party leaders. More IGroup members could be appointed by Universities. The duration for participation in this group could be short, say, 1 to 2 years. Shorter durations tend to prevent corruption. After completing this blog I was pleased to see reports on the Michigan “Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission” mentioned above. Do a search on this commission to see how this type of independent group might be composed.

We could certainly improve some legal definitions and procedures for dealing with impeachment and other issues of the presidency. Some of the areas needing better definition are “emoluments,” divesting business interests, nepotism, presidential obstruction of justice, conspiracy/collusion, rules for pardons, and rules for security clearance. Perhaps a President should not be able to override the decisions of career employees. Special Congressional committees or “IGroups” could play a more active role in these controversial issues.

Maybe the first step would be the formation of a group (from Congress and/or Universities) to start formulating a new more appropriate 21st Century system of government. Our current US Constitution is a great work, but it originated 1787 and has had 27 subsequent amendments. The aberrations of the current administration suggest all of the considerations listed here.

 

159. Fundamental Worldwide Problem

1 Apr

In positions of power are ruthless greedy leaders that have learned to influence gullible and less-educated citizens to accept (and if applicable) vote for them. This is true for all of human history. They tend to find scapegoats for problems that in many cases they have created, and to stoke fears of immigrants and foreigners. They often advocate violence to achieve their goals. Year by year, potential autocrats tend to worsen, which is why countries have term limits.

They tend to rob citizens of their rights, such as reliable unbiased voting, free speech, proper governmental organization, and a responsible police force.

They work against: adequate wages, reasonable social programs, healthcare coverage, infrastructure projects, environmental protections, education, and freedom to assemble and protest.

They re-write political history, cover-up bad acts with lies, support their rich friends in business, and attack an independent press that can hold them responsible. In the worst case, they murder unfavorable reporters.

What is the result of this problem?

There can be rioting, revolution, and many types of suffering for the citizens and in some cases the leaders. There are numerous examples of this fundamental problem throughout history and in current governments. The Arab Spring revolutions are really good examples of these concepts. Hungary and Poland, currently, are trending towards autocracy.

How can we correct this tendency towards tyranny? The short answer is to fight it in every (peaceful) way possible, including elections and investigations. We must encourage patriotic candidates for every office, that care about the country and its citizens; and promote voting. There already are many plans publicized for attacking this oppression.

Much of this analysis is applicable to the USA. Many of us believe that the Syrian refugee problem stirred up fears in the USA (and elsewhere). Opportunists used these fears to manipulate and take power. There is now a surge in progressive candidates that have the courage to fight corrupt systems.

Final note: I have tried to make a brief and understandable analysis of what is really a very complicated problem, that have been the subject of numerous books and essays. It is my goal to provoke thought, and further exploration of these profound issues.

140. Shut-Down Reveals Motives

25 Jan

The government shut-down, resulting from failure to pass a spending bill, is a national tragedy.  Many government workers and gov projects are severely affected by the lack of wages paid and other various non-funding. I sometimes suspect that this serious problem is Trump’s revenge for the investigations.  An interesting result of this conflict is that the negotiations and numerous related comments have revealed hidden motives and strategies. (Maybe not so hidden, for many analysts.)

I am sure that many Trump supporters are living paycheck-to-paycheck. These devotees must be shocked by the lack of concern about gov shut-down employee, that have unpaid wages.  While most employees will eventually be reimbursed, regular contractors may not receive anything. Here are some comments. Trump says that these people will “adjust,” they can always find a way. Really? His daughter-in-law Lara says that they will only feel “a little pain.” Sec. of Commerce Wilber Ross says they can get a loan. The Trump family and administration is mostly composed of hugely rich people. Does it sound like they have any appreciation for the results of lost wages ??

When Trump terminated the DACA law, he said that Congress can restore it. This sounded puzzling to me. Now I understand. DACA was terminated so that it could be used for future leverage  negotiations, and it just has been. Obviously, Trump does not care about these people (mostly good tax-paying people) at all, they are just pawns in his schemes. For Trump, everyone is a pawn except for his super-rich buddies, family, and a few of associates.

The way that Congressmen vote on various “shut-down” bills tells you a lot about their character.

Nancy Pelosi has been very adamant about not supporting any money at all for the wall. I have thought about this a lot and today I think I better understand her strategy. My initial thought, and what others have said, is that it like NOT negotiating with terrorists, because more people will get kidnaped if it is rewarded. So don’t give in to Trump to avoid future leverages. But there may be an additional factor. Instead of moving on impeachment, which is chancy, she wants to stop Trump by giving him a major defeat. Losing the shut-down battle may inhibit him from doing other worse things. Continuing the shut-down is harmful, but may less so that an unchecked Trump.

The USA, our lovely homeland, is caught up in traps that have possible remedies, but the remedies will only be achieved with a great concerted effort. Some damage, like radical conservative judges at every level. will be relatively permanent. The current administration has reversed climate-change efforts. Lack of worldwide climate efforts is already causing hurricane and flooding catastrophes, and will ultimately cause the death of many more people. My last word is to thank the many politicians and citizens that have good will and are working on our many problems.

 

 

 

 

139. In the USA, A Growing Autocracy

23 Jan

We are now in the early stages of a growing autocracy with Donald Trump as the aspiring dictator. An “autocracy” is a government in which one person (like a president) controls all of the major decisions. And typically, all dissenters are nullified in some way  and in the worst case murdered.

In our country, the USA, there are clear trends in this direction. Note particularly, the long government shut-down imposed by Trump in order to promote the southern border wall foolishly promised in his campagne. In the traditional way of tyrants he falsely created a border crisis and justified his use of gov employee hostages to coerce congressional action. He even admitted that he could see a shut-down for a year. And there is no sympathy for employees missing paychecks; “they will adjust.” (Trump’s concept of adjustment is getting millions from his father.) Democrats are reluctant to negotiate because on numerous occasions, Trump simply changed his mind after an agreement was reached. Here is a list of other indications of autocracy.

The press is an enemy of him and the people. He justifies Putin killing off dissenting reporters by saying that the US gov also kills people. Leaders that

He has expressed admiration for various tyrants. He is impressed by their ability to control the citizens. How can anyone accept this kind of thinking — but Republican leaders do??

He is the leader of a corrupt political party that follows him with slavish devotion. Early on, many Repubs were against him, but they ALL caved in as his popularity grew.

He undermines and diminishes our most important government institutions, such as the FBI, other intelligence agencies, and many executive agencies such as the State Department. He leads by whims, disregarding knowledgable experts.

His method of negotiation is usually by the use coercion. He bullies our allies and attempts to destroy NATO — likely to please his friend Putin.  On several occasions he has threatened to leave NATO.

Another common characteristic of a tyrant is rule by family. No one really likes a tyrant so nepotism provides safety for him. His daughter and particularly her husband have held important positions.

Testimony has indicated that he has demanded absolute loyalty from members of his administration, for example, FBI director Comey.

Objective evaluations indicate that Trump has told thousands of lies or major exaggerations. Tyrants are known for this and the re-writing history.

He has viciously attacked political adversaries, like Hillary Clinton. He leads the chorus in “lock-her-up.”

He is a ruthless autocrat in dealing with his staff, political rivals, and vulnerable people like those from Central America seeking asylum in our country. He will fire someone using a tweet, without any warning. His plan to stop immigration from the south, is to separate children from their parents. And his plan was so poorly implemented that hundreds still have not been re-united.

By major lowering of taxes for very rich people he gathered donor support.

Tyrants often have scapegoats that are blamed for all problems. For Trump it is Mexicans and Muslims.

      How can people not see this growing dictatorship?

All of the features of tyranny described above are indicators of a serious trend.  We must stop this man using any possible legal method. The further he gets in forming this autocracy, the more difficult it will be to end. The one hopeful aspect of this is that Trump is pretty old and likely will become more and more demented and unable to perform the tasks of his office.

 

 

 

 

 

135. “Shut-Down” Resolution

12 Jan

This government shut-down dilemma could be ended by some intelligent negotiation. The last meeting could have led to something more productive, but was cut short by fear and anger. Each party has vital needs. Trump is desperate to keep his voting-base and have a win to raise his spirits, in the face of frightening investigations.  “Chuck and Nancy” are really angry about a betrayal by Trump reversing his gov funding position; caused by radical right-wing dingbats (Rush and Ann). Dems  know an expensive full wall is very wasteful and the five or so billion could be spent in better ways.

A really good negotiator could quickly resolve this difference. Fear and anger emotions play a part in preventing a compromise, but I also think both sides are not very skilled in this type of situation. It might be good to call in a top professional negotiator to work with a representative from each side.  I would suggest Trump himself and Chuck Schumer alone with the chosen negotiator. The result would be a compromise that both parties could stomach.

Here is a possible resolution. Three or four billion would be allotted for Southern border security to include improved fencing/walls and implementing a variety of relevant electronic devices. The details could be left to border control experts. This or some similar variation could work for both sides. Dems could accept some improved fencing and Trump could say some wall would be built — shut-down over.  I had hoped for a clear win for the Dems, but this terrible destructive situation must be ended. We NEED A WIN FOR THE COUNTRY. 

Added thought: Democrats, being more idealistic, should lead the way and a  representative should send an email or other message to Ivanka Trump (or someone similar) proposing this method of shut-down resolution.  She could convince her father to work on this.

 

 

 

 

 

134. My View of 2020 Gov

12 Jan

Please see my previous blog for a list of the most popular Democrat presidential candidates. I rated Elizabeth Warren as my top choice for President. Since I wrote blog #133, I still rate her tops, but feel more positive about Kamala Harris. Warren has a unique combination of strength, inspirational leadership, intelligence, and social skills. I think she would be able to gather the best consultants and utilize their knowledge.      Kamala is also impressive in these factors and maybe her time will be 2024.  Here is a possible view of a 2020 gov:

President: Eliz Warren,   Vice Presidentt: Eric Swalwell.  I think a female-male combination would be a good balance.  Eric has great voter appeal and appears capable.

Kamala Harris should have a prominent position, perhaps Sec of State, or chief of staff.

Top cabinet positions could be filed with Beto, Joe Kennedy, and other capable young candidates, where they could be effective. In many cases, such positions should be filled by outstanding professors, gov agency officials, and other well-established experts in special fields. Any position where science is important, should be filled with appropriate scientists (or similar), not political allies.

I would expect that Elizabeth would have regular consultations with Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry.  Al Gore and Jay Inslee could help with climate-change issues. Imagine a president that consults with really good people. Under Obama, this was the rule.

Traditional government agencies should be immediately restored with the best personnel. Hopefully, there could be many judicial appointments with progressive orientations. I assume that Pres. Warren would rely heavily on experts in foreign policy, military matters, environmental factors, scientific and health applications/research, correcting income inequality, taxation, infrastructure improvement, education, and many other areas. It is exciting to anticipate this governmental revision.  Many other good configurations are possible, and I look forward to a Democrat victory.