Friday, June 28, 2019

Kamala Harris' Health Insurance Gaffe

Kamala Harris was widely considered to have been the big winner in last night’s Democratic debate but in the midst of the evening, she committed a gaffe that she was forced to walk back this morning. The radical Democratic candidate seems to realize that she went a little too far to the left when asked about abolishing private health insurance.

At one point in the evening, moderator Lester Holt of NBC News asked the 10 candidates to raise their hands if they would “abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan.” Only Harris and Bernie Sanders raised their hands.

In the light of day, the answer must not seem as good as it did in a room full of Democratic activists because the California senator qualified her position on private health insurance this morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” On the show, Harris said that she misunderstood the question.

“Once and for all, do you believe that private insurance should be eliminated in this country?” co-host Willie Geist asked Harris.

“No,” Harris answered, adding, “But the question was, ‘Would you give up your private insurance for that option?’ And I said yes.”

“Oh, I think you heard it differently than others, then,” Geist said.

“Probably, because that's what I heard,” Harris replied.

Harris then stated, “I am a proponent of ‘Medicare for All,” adding that she would not eliminate private health insurance but  that it “will exist for supplemental coverage.”

Later in the interview, Geist pressed Harris again, asking, “So, to boil it down, Medicare for All, available to everyone if they want it, but if they have private insurance, they keep it?”

“For supplemental. For supplemental coverage,” Harris said. “Otherwise, they're in Medicare for All.”

In essence, it seems that Harris originally told the truth when she said that she supported abolishing private health insurance in exchange for Medicare for All. Even if her plan leaves private insurers intact for supplemental coverage, most Americans would lose their current health insurance, which was the gist of the question.

Harris’ position also leaves open the question of why Americans would need supplemental health insurance if Medicare for All is the be-all-end-all of health insurance and would include dental and vision coverage. Whatever the reason, under Harris’ plan, Americans would face both higher taxes for nationalized healthcare and premiums for a supplemental private plan. It doesn’t sound like a great deal.

Voters agree. While polling often shows support for single-payer plans such as Medicare for All, that support plummets when voters find out more details about the plan. Voters don’t like the idea that federal healthcare could increase wait times for care or that it would dramatically increase taxes.

Other polls cast doubt on the idea that voters are willing to blow up the healthcare system. Real Clear Politics found in May that less than a third of voters want a completely new system. A large majority, 68 percent, want to make improvements to the current system.

Even if voters are scared away from Kamala Harris by her threats to toss out the current health insurance system, healthcare does represent a weakness for Republicans. Healthcare is a top issue for voters and the GOP has been silent on the topic since its abortive attempt to repeal Obamacare in 2017. Since then Republicans have focused on tariffs and illegal immigration, issues where they are at odds with the majority of Americans.

Republicans of the Bush era failed to address Americans concerns about the high cost of healthcare. That failure led directly to the election of Barack Obama and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It could be that history is repeating itself as the Republican failure to present a viable alternative to Obamacare may lead to the passage of an even more radical government takeover of the healthcare industry under the next president.

Originally published on the Resurgent

Did Biden Blow It?

This morning the talk of the internet is Joe Biden’s performance in the Democratic primary debate last night. After Kamala Harris viciously attacked Biden (see the clip here) over his failure to support forced busing, a 1970s era issue, many pundits are saying that the former vice president is down for the count. I’m not so sure.

Biden definitely took some hard hits in the debate, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into lost support. The real question is what Democratic voters want in a candidate. That question is one that most observers have been wrong on so far in the campaign.

The fact is that most observers and progressive Tweeters have been predicting Biden’s demise since before he even launched his campaign. The premise was that Joe Biden was gaffe-prone and not radical enough for the modern Democratic Party. That was before Biden jumped into the race and took a consistent double-digit polling lead after pulling in an impressive $6.3 million in donations in his first 24 hours. For two months, the naysayers have been proven wrong.

The problem seems to be in the assumption that radical leftist Twitter represents the Democratic Party as a whole. While there is definitely a very radical Democrat left wing, polling so far suggests that it may not be as large as many observers have assumed. This is particularly true after two years of Donald Trump’s Administration has pushed many moderate and conservative voters toward the Democrats.

A number of polls over the past few months have lent credence to the idea that many Democratic voters are moderates. In March, an NBC/Wall St. Journal poll found that 54 percent of Democrats considered themselves as moderate or conservative. A Real Clear Politics poll from the same month showed that 38 percent of Democrats rated themselves in the middle. In April, a CNN poll also found that 54 percent of Democrats were moderate or conservative, up from 47 percent in 2018.

Polls can be easily dismissed, but election results are something else entirely. National exit polls from the 2018 midterms showed that Democrats won 62 percent of moderates and a whopping 16 percent of conservatives. By way of comparison, Democrats won only 52 percent of moderates in 2016 but maintained the 16 percent share of conservatives.

Polling also shows that most Democrats don’t favor a radical nominee. A Fox News poll from June found that more than 70 percent of Democrats want a unifying candidate over one who will fight the right-wing. Likewise, more than 70 percent want “steady, reliable leadership” rather than “a bold, new agenda.” Another June poll from USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times revealed that more than half of Democrats believed that a white, male candidate would stand the best chance of defeating Donald Trump. Voters in the poll thought that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders were most likely to beat Trump.

As I’ve predicted for months, Joe Biden is benefitting from being the only first-tier candidate in the moderate lane of Democratic primary. If about half of Democrats are conservative or moderate, then Biden has been getting support from about 80-90 percent of this wing of the party. The remainder is split between candidates such as Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Tim Ryan, Andrew Yang, and John Delaney, who are each polling at five percent or less.

Meanwhile, a number of top-tier candidates are vying for a share of the half of the party that is liberal. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg collectively poll at about 50 percent, but when that wing of the party is split four ways they each run a distant second to Joe Biden.

The big question from the debate is whether Joe Biden’s debate performance will sour moderates and conservatives on his candidacy and, if so, where they will go. It is difficult to imagine conservative Democrats rallying behind any of the other top four candidates due to their radical platforms.

A CNN poll from May asked Democratic voters about their second choice candidates. Biden was the top second choice followed by Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris. Buttigieg finished a distant fifth in this survey.

Further, Biden’s debate performance was not as disastrous as many observers would have you believe. Aside from the exchange with Harris, Biden was largely stable and avoided making serious gaffes. His calm demeanor may be what many voters are looking for as the antithesis to Donald Trump’s exhausting personality.

Despite attacks on Biden’s racial record from 40 years ago, he has also been the frontrunner among black Democrats. Polling has put Biden’s support among blacks even higher than his support from the Democratic Party as a whole, approaching 50 percent even with minority candidates in the race.

In fact, Biden’s pitch last night was that he was running as a third term for Barack Obama. While President Obama has never been popular with Republicans and has lost favor with Democrats, Obama is still popular with moderates, boasting a 56 percent positive rating. The appeal of his past association with Obama is especially strong for black voters and Millennials.

Given the mathematics of the Democratic primary, I seriously doubt that the debate will erode his frontrunner status. There are simply too many moderate voters in the Democratic Party who are being ignored by the other top candidates. If you are a moderate Democrat, the calls from the other top candidates to abolish private health insurance, raise taxes, and take away guns may not be very appealing.

At the same time, Biden does need to put on his game face and prepare for his next encounter. If he cannot convince voters that he can go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump then his supporters may leave him for candidates that they see as more electable. The former vice president is not done yet, but he needs to show voters that he is still “Scrappy Joe” and not “Sleepy Joe.”

Originally published on The Resurgent


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Supreme Court Rules On Census And Gerrymandering

Two new rulings from the Supreme Court have addressed questions regarding the citizenship question on the 2020 census and partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts. In a defeat for the Trump Administration, the Court referred the citizenship question back to the lower court. The Court also distanced the judicial branch from questions of partisan rigging of congressional districts.

On the census question, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Court’s four liberal justices in a decision that held that the Commerce Department’s justification for adding the citizenship question, that the government wanted to use the data to better enforce voting rights laws, was a pretext after evidence was found in the estate of deceased Republican strategist that suggested that the use of a citizenship question could provide whites and Republicans with an electoral advantage after the next redistricting.

A federal judge in New York ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had committed “smorgasbord of classic, clear-cut violations” of federal laws governing administrative agencies in including the question. The Court returned the case to the lower courts for additional consideration but ruled that Wilbur Ross could not be deposed.

The Court left the door open to further appeal by the Trump Administration noting that it was reasonable to use a citizenship question on the census rather than administrative records as the Census Bureau recommended even if the tactic resulted in a lower response rate from Hispanic households. The problem found by the Court was that Ross’s rationale was not supported by evidence.

“The evidence showed,” Roberts wrote, that Ross “was determined to reinstate a citizenship question from the time he entered office; instructed his staff to make it happen; waited while Commerce officials explored whether another agency would request census-based citizenship data; subsequently contacted the Attorney General himself to ask if DOJ would make the request; and adopted the Voting Rights Act rationale late in the process.”

When “the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation the Secretary gave for his decision,” Roberts continued, judicial review calls for “something better than the explanation offered for the action taken in this case.”

On the question of gerrymandering, drawing congressional districts for maximum partisan gain, the Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that, while the process is distasteful, gerrymandering is a problem for politicians rather than the courts.

In a decision also written by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court held that there was no constitutional requirement for proportional representation in congressional districts. Congressional districts do not have to reflect the proportion of a party’s statewide vote.

“Nothing in the Constitution provides standards to decide what is fair,” wrote Roberts.

Roberts suggested that there were other alternatives for addressing the gerrymandering problem. For example, either Congress or the states could mandate that redistricting be done by independent commissions rather than by partisan legislators.

Roberts was joined in the majority on this case by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neal Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Julian Castro Is The Most Radical Democrat

After watching last night’s Democratic B-Team presidential debate, it’s hard to put a finger on who was the most radical figure on the stage. There was intense competition from Bill de Blasio, Elizabeth Warren, and Tulsi Gabbard, but, for my money, Julian Castro won the prize for being the most far-out candidate. Castro, who presented himself well in the debate, nevertheless surpassed the other liberals on the stage not once but twice last night.

It’s difficult to stand out on abortion in a party in which advocacy of taxpayer-funded abortion on demand up to the moment of birth is becoming the norm, but Castro succeeded. How did he do it? you may wonder. I’ll tell you: He did it by advocating abortions for men. No, I’m not making this up.

When asked if his healthcare plan would cover abortion, Mr. Castro, who served as mayor of San Antonio and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama, answered, “Yes, it would. I don't believe only in reproductive freedom, I believe in reproductive justice.”

“And, you know,” he continued, “What that means is that just because a woman -- or let's also not forget someone in the trans community, a trans female, is poor, doesn't mean they shouldn't have the right to exercise that right to choose. And so I absolutely would cover the right to have an abortion.”       

For those of you confused about what a “trans female” is (and I confess that I’m in that number), a trans woman is “a person who was born male but whose gender identity is female.” In other words, a trans woman is a man who thinks he is a woman.

By logical extension, a Castro Administration would extend the “right to choose” to men who claim to be women. Castro doesn’t specify what the choices would be but I think we can infer that he means they could choose to kill their unborn baby.

The biological conundrum here is that, since they are men, trans women, cannot get pregnant. Considering this scientific truth, Castro may have stumbled upon an expansion of abortion rights that even pro-life conservatives can get behind since it will neither kill any babies nor cost the taxpayers a dime. The rub is in the details. Castro may be so woke that he would support taxpayer funds to help men get pregnant so that they can then exercise their newfound right to an abortion.

Exactly what “reproductive justice” means is unclear. It probably does not involve due process for unborn babies, however.

Castro may have misspoken or been confused about “trans women,” but can we really be sure that he didn’t say exactly what he meant? This writer would not be surprised either way.

Fresh from his expression of support for gender-neutral of abortion rights, Castro moved on to advocate decriminalizing illegal immigration. After attacking President Trump’s metering policy for asylum-seekers, which he blamed for the drowning death of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his two-year-old daughter, Valeria, this week, Castro launched into his policy proposal.

“On day one, I would do that executive order that would address metering,” he said. “And then I would follow that up in my first 100 days with immigration reform that would honor asylum claims, that would put undocumented immigrants, as long as they haven't committed a serious crime, on a pathway to citizenship.”

“And then we'd get to the root cause of the issue, which is we need a Marshall Plan for Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador so that people can find safety and opportunity at home instead of coming to the United States to seek it,” he continued.

A few seconds later, Castro interrupted Corey Booker’s answer to add to his own, saying, “My plan also includes getting rid of Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, to go back to the way we used to treat this when somebody comes across the border, not to criminalize desperation, to treat that as a civil violation.”

“And here's why it's important,” he said. “We see all of this horrendous family separation. They use that law, Section 1325, to justify under the law separating little children from their families.”

“I want to challenge every single candidate on this stage to support the repeal of Section 1325,” Castro added, noting that Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee have already endorsed the plan.

While Castro’s idea of a Marshall Plan for Latin America has some merit as a way to reduce illegal immigration, repeal of criminal statutes for illegal immigration is a nonstarter. Without a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, repeal would be about as successful as Republican attempts to appeal Obamacare and would only harden partisan divisions by providing evidence that Democrats are an open-borders party. Decriminalization of illegal entry into the United States would send the wrong message and encourage more illegal immigration.

Other Democrats were not so quick to sign on to Castro’s plan. In a subsequent exchange, Beto O’Rourke pushed back at Castro’s demand that he endorse repeal of Section 1325 (you can watch the exchange here).

“As a member of a Congress, I helped to introduce legislation that would ensure that we don't criminalize those who are seeking asylum and refuge in this country,” Beto answered.

“I'm not talking about the ones that are seeking asylum,” Castro retorted, leaving no doubt that he meant migrants who cross the border illegally since it is legal to seek asylum. “I'm talking about everybody else.”

“If you're fleeing desperation, then I want to make sure you are treated with respect,” O’Rourke answered, “But you're looking at just one small part of this. I'm talking about a comprehensive rewrite of our immigration laws and if you do that, I don't think it's asking too much for people to follow our laws when they come to this country.”

Castro then retorted that O’Rourke had cited human trafficking and drug smuggling in his opposition to Section 1325 repeal, which he claimed were covered by other parts of the US criminal code, but the exchange exposed a fault line between the open-border Democrats and those who favor a more liberal version of immigration reform.

In a collection of radicals, it is difficult to stand out, but Julian Castro accomplished that last night. Abortions for men and making Beto O’Rourke defend immigration law put the Texas liberal on the far left of the far left. His extreme positions make it unlikely that he can win the Democratic nomination and less likely that he could win the general election, but if Democrats choose to nominate him, the name “Castro” would at least be reflective of the current ideological direction of the Democratic Party. It would be almost like placing a warning label on the ballot.  

Originally published on The Resurgent

Tim Ryan's Warning To Democrats

If you suffered through the Democratic B-Team debate last night, you saw the far left on display. There were Julian Castro’s calls to decriminalize illegal immigration and abortions for biological males, Elizabeth Warren’s calls to break up Big Tech (which will probably be embraced by Tucker Carlson), and Tulsi Gabbard’s spirited defense of the Taliban. However, there was some truth told at the debate last night and one such moment was Congressman Tim Ryan’s warning that Democrats are in danger of losing blue-collar workers.

Rep. Ryan, who has represented northeastern Ohio since 2003, said out loud what many of conservative pundits have been saying all along when he warned that the Democratic Party is shifting so far to the left that it is in danger of losing the moderate blue-collar workers that have propelled it to power for decades. Ryan’s comments came in an answer to a question about climate change in which he said that sweeping change would not be possible until the Democrats were able to win beyond the enclaves of the coastal elites.

“We have a perception problem with the Democratic party,” Ryan said. “We are not connecting to the working-class people in the very states I represent, in Ohio, in the industrial Mid-West. We’ve lost all connection.”

“We’ve got to change the center of gravity of the Democratic party from being coastal, elitist and Ivy league, which is the perception to someone from the forgotten communities that have been left behind for the last 30 years,” he continued, “To get those workers back on our side, so we can say we’re going to build electric vehicles, we’re going to build solar panels.”

“But if you want to beat Mitch McConnell, this better be a working-class party,” he added. “If you want to go into Kentucky and take his rear end out, and if you want to take Lindsey Graham out, you've got to have a blue-collar party that can go into the textile communities in South Carolina.”

Congressman Ryan hits the nail squarely on the head here. The biggest risk for the Democrats in 2020 is that they mistake antipathy from voters for Trump for an embrace of the leftist agenda. Trump is unpopular, but so are radical leftist ideas. Voters want a return to normalcy where they don’t have to be outraged about events in Washington every day.

This is illustrated by the 2018 midterm elections. Republicans took a “shellacking” in President Obama’s vernacular, but by and large it was not the radical Democrats that voters sent to Washington. It was Democrats that they perceived as moderates.

Sure, there were exceptions such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the infamous airhead bomb thrower, but she was elected in a very blue district without a competitive Republican. The same goes for her cohort, Rashida Tlaib, in Michigan.

In contrast, it was moderates like Doug Jones (Ala.), Elissa Slotkin (Mich.), Chrissy Houlahan (Pa.), Abigail Spanberger (Va.), Elaine Luria (Va.) and Mikie Sherrill (N.J.) who picked off Republican seats in red states and districts. Kyrsten Sinema, who won Jeff Flake’s Republican seat in Arizona, was considered a radical by many but won by running a centrist campaign.

The working-class voters that Ryan wants his party to target are the same voters that deserted the party for Donald Trump in 2016. The working-class Rust Belt states provided the key to Trump’s surprise victory by a very thin margin. Ryan warns the party that if they veer too far to the left, they may make the same mistake twice.

It is telling that the most radical Democratic presidential candidates come from deep blue states like California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Radicals can be successful in a closed environment but are less likely to succeed on a national level or in swing states. Yet, it is in the swing states where the election is decided.

The flip side is that Republicans have the same problem. Donald Trump’s policies have alienated a large part of his blue-collar base as well. The trade war is hitting farmers hard in the rural districts where Republicans typically do well. The trade war may also not play well with the blue-collar Rust Belt workers whose livelihoods are closely linked to foreign trade. A recent Fox News poll also revealed widespread opposition to the president’s immigration policies.

Internal Republican polling shows the president’s support evaporating in the Rust Belt. Worse for the president who ran behind other Republicans, Republicans lost seven of the eight statewide races in the Rust Belt in 2018.

Congressman Ryan’s words are a warning that should be heeded by candidates of both parties. While candidates have to play to the political activists in the primaries, the activists don’t represent the moderate voters who decide the general election. What a candidate says in the primary can be held against them in November.

If Democrats want voters to send the message, “You’re fired,” to Donald Trump, they need to nominate a candidate who can connect with the blue-collar moderates that are a vitally important part of the electorate. They would do well to remember that the suburban moms and dads who decided the 2018 midterms don’t like radicals… in either party.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Mueller To Testify Before Congress

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to testify publicly before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees after Democrats issued a subpoena. In his press conference on May 29, Mueller indicated that he did not want to testify before Congress and intended his report to be his testimony.

“Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report,” Mueller said at the time, adding, “The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.”

Nevertheless, many Americans want to hear more from Mr. Mueller. “Americans have demanded to hear directly from the Special Counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered, and determined about Russia's attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign's acceptance and use of that help, and President Trump and his associates' obstruction of the investigation into that attack,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said in a joint statement.

Other Americans pointedly don’t want to hear more about the special counsel investigation. As the news of Mueller’s upcoming testimony broke on Tuesday, President Trump tweeted, “Presidential harassment!”

Even if, as is likely, Mr. Mueller brings no new details of Russian collusion or presidential obstruction of justice to the witness chair, there are lingering questions about his report that his testimony could help answer. First and foremost is whether Mueller would have recommended prosecution of Donald Trump for obstruction of justice if he had not been president. Along that line is whether Trump’s actions, in Mueller’s opinion, constituted impeachable offenses.

There is also the question of Mueller’s letter to Attorney General William Barr. It was only after Mueller sent a letter complaining about Barr’s characterization of the Mueller report that the attorney general agreed to release a redacted version of the report to the public. Did Barr originally intend to mislead the public with summary that allowed the president to claim “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION” while not revealing that Mueller’s failure to recommend prosecution for obstruction was because he did not make a prosecutorial judgment due to Justice Department policy that prohibits indictment of a sitting president?

For their part, Republicans will likely use the opportunity to attack the credibility of the Special Counsel’s office and the FBI as well as question the origins of the Russia investigation. Republicans can be expected to question Mueller about the Steele dossier as well as probe whether the FBI was biased in its investigation of the Trump campaign. Many Republicans, including AG Barr, have alleged that the FBI behaved in a corrupt fashion during the investigation but have not provided evidence to support their claims.

Congressional hearings will also provide Mueller with a platform to draw attention to what he seems to see as the bigger elephant in the room: the fact that Russia went to great lengths to tamper with the election. As Mueller stressed in his press conference, “There were multiple systemic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American.”

House Democrats will be certain to point out that Republicans, who traditionally have been strong on national security, have spent two years blocking efforts to beef up election security and minimizing the effect of Russian cyber attacks on election infrastructure. As recently as this week, Senate Republicans blocked a bill by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) that would have required backup paper ballots and provided election security grants to states.

Ultimately, much can be gleaned from the expectations of the two parties. The eager anticipation of Democrats shows that they think it is likely that Mueller’s testimony will be damaging to the president. The panicked reaction of the Republicans shows that they agree.

Mueller’s testimony is scheduled for July 17.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Thursday, June 13, 2019

A Week After Attacking Biden, Democrats Are Poised To Pass Hyde Amendment

It seems like only last week that Democrats were excoriating Joe Biden for his support of the Hyde Amendment. Actually, it really was only last week. That’s why many observers are somewhat surprised that House Democrats just passed a bill that keeps the Hyde Amendment alive for another year.

Last week, the pro-abortion left viciously attacked Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden for his continued support of the Hyde Amendment, a series of laws that prohibit using taxpayer funds for abortion. The backlash against Biden’s deviation from the leftist norm was so swift and severe that the candidate reversed himself quickly from a position that he had held for nearly a half-century.

“Circumstances have changed,” Biden told his supporters.

Now, a few days later, CNN reports that the Democrat-controlled House is scheduled to vote on a major spending today that will include the Hyde Amendment. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) introduced an amendment to remove the Hyde Amendment language from the bill, but the House leadership denied her a vote after the House Rules Committee determined that Pressley’s amendment decided it violated rules.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has urged his caucus to support the minibus spending bill, which includes funding for a wide range of federal departments and services. Democrats say that they don’t see a way to remove the Hyde Amendment language at the moment.

Biden’s reversal was “probably a rational decision for him to make,” Hoyer said, but added, “We have to deal with the legislative process here in the Congress.”

The Democratic conundrum on the Hyde Amendment is similar to the Republican problem on defunding Planned Parenthood and Obamacare or passing funding for the wall. Democrats control only one house of Congress while legislation must pass through the Senate and cross the president’s desk before it becomes law. If House Democrats pass a bill without the Hyde Amendment, it would be DOA in Mitch McConnell’s Senate.

The standoff would set up a confrontation over spending of the sort that has resulted in brinksmanship or government shutdowns in the past. Such standoffs usually reflect poorly on both parties and tend to be unwinnable.

Added to tactical concern is the fact that Democrats are out of the mainstream when it comes to federal funding for abortion, just as Republicans are on defunding Planned Parenthood and building a wall. Slate cites a bevy of polls that show that most Americans don’t want abortion to be a service funded by taxpayers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did signal that the Hyde Amendment is definitely a target for Democrats should they win enough votes. “I wish we never had a Hyde amendment,” Pelosi said, “but it is the law of the land right now and I don't see that there is an opportunity to get rid of it with the current occupant of the White House and some in the United States Senate.”

The bottom line is that Democrats really don’t want the Hyde Amendment, but, having seen Republican frustrations with trying to force controversial items through Congress, they know that it is much easier to stop a piece of legislation than to pass one. Democrats don’t want to be viewed as obstructing a necessary spending bill just prior to the election. If Republicans blocked the bill without the Hyde Amendment, Democrats would be forced into a lose-lose situation of either publicly surrendering or shutting the government down and then publicly surrendering while fighting for an unpopular position.

Democrats aren’t necessarily being hypocritical on the Hyde Amendment. Instead, they are being pragmatic and acting strategically. They haven’t changed their core principles of supporting abortion and spending more taxpayer money, but they do realize that it would be counterproductive to their cause to push the issue now.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Cruz And AOC Are Coming Together On Contraception

They say that politics makes strange bedfellows and nowhere is that more true than the unlikely alliance between Texas Senator Ted Cruz and self-identified democratic socialist congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The two, who are polar opposites in almost every way have indicated their agreement on a bill to prohibit former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists and now seem to have found common ground on birth control.

Cruz reached out to AOC yesterday on Twitter after the New York leftist tweeted that birth control should be available over the counter. Cruz responded that he agreed and offered to team up on a “simple, clean bill” that would make birth control available without a prescription.  At press time, AOC had not yet publicly responded to Cruz’s offer.

Making birth control more readily available is an idea that makes sense. Over recent decades, out-of-wedlock births in the United States have risen dramatically. The CDC reports that births to unwed mothers now account for almost 40 percent of births. The unmarried birth rate for women under 44 is slightly higher than 40 percent.  

The reason that the government and taxpayers should care about the unmarried birth rate is that when an unmarried parent raises children, the family often qualifies for federal benefits. The growth in the entitlement state driven by single-parent families contributes to both the increasing federal deficit and the increasing American dependence on the government. Children raised in single-parent households are also more likely to have a variety of bad outcomes such as becoming a juvenile delinquent, poor performance in school, abuse alcohol or drugs, and becoming a single parent themselves.

Although the Census Bureau reported in 2016 that the majority of American children live in two-parent families, the share of children in two-parent households has fallen by about 20 points since 1960. About 23 percent of American kids live in a single-parent household headed by their mother. Of the children in two-parent households, about 99 percent live in homes where the parents are married.

The hope is that if birth control is more readily available then fewer parents will choose to have children before getting married. If birth control is available and used consistently, it might also help to reduce the number of abortions. The most common reasons given for abortion all revolve around the mother’s belief that she is not ready to have a child, i.e. abortion is being used in lieu of birth control.

One of the biggest potential problems with the increased availability of cheap birth control is that the US birth rate is already too low. The birth rate has been declining for several years and is already below the level at which the current population will replace itself. The coming population decline could have negative effects on everything from economic growth to maintaining America’s global dominance.

There might be more problems with the legalization of OTC birth control from AOC’s side of the aisle. Reason Magazine described earlier this year how, despite years of usage and research that prove the safety of birth control medications, Democrats and Planned Parenthood started resisting the idea of cheap, OTC contraception just as Republicans were warming to the idea.

This isn’t the first time that Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez have teamed up. The two have previously worked together to push for a ban on former congressmen becoming lobbyists. As with birth control, the roots of the congressional lobbying ban idea came from Twitter with Cruz responding to an AOC tweet. So far, the duo has not presented legislation to Congress.

As a conservative, I have more problems with a ban on lobbying than with cheap contraception. Even though lobbyists are never popular with voters, the profession is specifically protected by the First Amendment on two grounds. First, lobbyists enjoy the same free speech rights as other citizens and, second, the right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances” is also included at the forefront of the Bill of Rights.

Nevertheless, I do applaud Cruz and AOC for having the courage to reach across the aisle in an environment where compromise is considered to be toxic by many. For Cruz’s part, it represents a significant departure from his “my-way-or-the-highway” attitude seen in the 2013 government shutdown. His compromises with AOC may mean that the Texas senator is maturing as a legislator.

The truth is that compromise is the only way to get things done in Washington. That’s not a bug either. It’s a feature that the framers built into the Constitution to prevent a tyranny of the majority. The authors of the Constitution wanted Americans to work together to solve their problems and make the country better, not simply denounce the other side as traitors or criminals and issue Executive Orders or national emergencies. 

Originally published on The Resurgent

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Trump’s Re-election Chances Are Slim But Not None

I’ve long been skeptical about Donald Trump’s chances for re-election. The mere fact that the president started with a popular vote loss and then proceeded to become even more unpopular due to his behavior and policies while in office is an obvious sign that his battle for re-election will be fought in an uphill fashion. Now, as more and more polling comes in about potential matchups with Democrats, the data confirms that Trump is in for a hard fight.

I have noted in the past how President Trump’s approval has fallen almost everywhere since the 2016 election. The president’s popularity has sagged to the point where even many red states now look like battleground states. This is particularly true in those states where farmers have suffered from the trade wars.

Josh Kraushaar recently wrote in National Journal that Trump is “in the weakest political shape of any sitting president (Republican or Democrat) since George H.W Bush.” He continues, “Trump hits 50 percent disapproval... in North Carolina, Arizona, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Iowa — all states he carried in 2016.”

Now, The New York Times reports that even Mr. Trump’s own internal polling shows him to be trailing Joe Biden in the states that he needs to carry in order to win the election and the president seems to be in denial of that fact. “After being briefed on a devastating 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win,” the Times said this week. “Trump instructed aides to say publicly that other data showed him doing well.”

If you’re a Trump supporter, you’re probably thinking that you’ve heard all this before. The polling up to Election Day showed Mr. Trump being soundly defeated by Hillary Clinton and he won. The pundits gave Hillary a 99 percent chance of winning and she lost. The polls were wrong then so they are garbage now.

Not exactly.

If we look back at archived national polls of the 2016 election on Real Clear Politics, the average of polls gave Hillary a three-point lead. That is almost exactly identical to the national popular vote result. The split between the popular vote and the Electoral College came down to about 53,000 votes spread over five key states. Most of the polling in these states also showed a close race. Polling was substantially off in only one state, Wisconsin, where Hillary’s eight-point lead in the polls turned into a one-point loss.

Some analysts realized that the race was closing in the final days of the election. The wonks at FiveThirtyEight gave Trump an almost one-in-three chance of winning in a forecast that is still archived. While they still figured Trump to be an underdog, a 30 percent chance of winning is a far cry from a 99 percent chance of losing.

Even with stolen Democratic emails dribbling forth throughout 2016 campaign, it took yet another October surprise to put Donald Trump over the top. Polling showed that James Comey’s memo to Congress was the deciding factor in pushing voters toward Trump. The president cannot depend on a similar fortunate circumstance to save him next year, however.

An unnamed “ally” of the Trump campaign made Trump’s case to Axios, saying, “Trump has always under-polled. Until it's actually a binary contest, though, these polls really don't matter.”

“When Trump gets a shot at defining someone one-on-one,” the Trump surrogate said, “They're no longer going to be what they are now, which is, for the most part, a 'generic Democrat,’” He added that the Trump campaign hopes to define the eventual Democratic opponent by support for such policies as the Green New Deal and Medicaid-for-all, policies that he hopes will frighten away most Americans. Finally, the solid economy is what the Trump campaign hopes will be its ace-in-the-hole.

“Historical data says that with the economy roaring like it is, the incumbent always wins,” the Trump ally says.

The problem with this strategy is that Trump previously faced the candidate widely panned as the worst in modern American history, a candidate who also had a radical agenda that included a public health insurance option, and he still failed to win a majority of the popular vote and came within a whisker of losing the Electoral College. Likewise, voters twice refused to be put off by Barack Obama’s radically leftist ideas. Portraying the Democratic candidate as a radical will motivate the Republican base but won’t necessarily win swing voters.

Likewise, depending on the economy is not a sure thing. Just ask Hillary Clinton who was running on the promise of “four more years” in an economy that was not so different from the current one. Unemployment has been trending down since the Great Recession ended in 2009 while the stock market has continued a ten-year climb. Economic growth under Trump is only marginally better than it was under Obama.   

Another problem with relying on the economy is that the trade war is taking a toll. I recently reported how the tariffs were offsetting the benefits of tax reform for both individuals and businesses. With the Chamber of Commerce and agriculture groups signaling opposition to the tariff war, President Trump may be about to lose core Republican constituencies such as businesses and farmers despite the good economy.

Worse, there are signs that economic growth may be slowing due to the trade war. One leading indicator is the transportation industry. Forbes recently reported that rail shipments were down almost every month of 2019. There are other indicators as well, such as last week’s disappointing jobs report and slowing transaction volume for businesses, which may be partly due to trade uncertainty. A recession is not a foregone conclusion, but if one occurs President Trump will own it.

The 2018 midterm elections should have been a wakeup call for Republicans. Despite the good economy and Trump’s control of messaging in the final weeks of the election, the GOP took a beating in the House and only maintained control of the Senate through a very favorable map that allowed red state Republicans to eke out victories. Swing voters who supported Trump in 2016 swung back toward the Democrats in 2018.

The wild card is Russia. In 2016, Trump benefitted from Russian interference even if the Trump campaign did not actively work in concert with the Russian government. Few steps have been taken to protect the election infrastructure from similar interference next year. If the Russian government does launch new attacks on the 2020 elections, there is no guarantee that they will benefit Mr. Trump this time.

The bottom line is that neither President Trump’s personality nor his policy has endeared him to swing state voters as they have to his base. While Trump cannot be counted out for re-election, he faces a difficult campaign. If he can stay off Twitter and not act crazy for the next 18 months, his odds would improve greatly, but both are unlikely. On the other hand, if the economy softens in the months leading up to the election, Trump’s goose is likely to be cooked.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Justin Amash Splits From Freedom Caucus

CNN reports that Amash said in March that he had stopped attending Freedom Caucus meetings due to disagreement with other members over the direction of the country under President Trump. Other Freedom Caucus members unanimously opposed the call for impeachment from Amash, who has one of the most conservative voting recordsin Congress.
The group seems to have parted ways amicably. “I have the highest regard for them, and they’re my close friends,” Amash said. “I didn’t want to be a further distraction for the group.”
While Amash has been almost universally criticized by other Republican officials, his constituents seem happy with his stance. At a town hall in May, Amash received a standing ovation from voters and many expressed support for the congressman who says his job is to uphold the Constitution.
Other Republicans seem to focus on supporting the president. As Donald Trump repeats his tactic of using emergency declarations to bypass Congress and bending the law to use tariffs to pressure US trading partners, few Republicans, including those on the Freedom Caucus, have stood up against the abuses of presidential authority, much less Mr. Trump’s bad behavior with respect to the Russia investigation. Republicans who criticized Barack Obama’s abuses of executive authority have shown little interest in reining in President Trump.
There is speculation that Amash’s divorce from the Freedom Caucus is part of the groundwork for a run for president, possibly as a Libertarian. Amash himself has given no indication of this but has not ruled out a presidential run. Amash told the Detroit News last week that he plans to run for re-election to his congressional seat as a Republican.
Rep. Amash formally left the Freedom Caucus this week, but, in truth, the Freedom Caucus left Amash long ago. Like the Republican Party in general, the group’s principles now seem to reflect not what is constitutional, legal, ethical, and moral but what President Trump says.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Trump's New Tariff Threats

In the days following the announcement of the Trump Administration’s border security deal with Mexico, President Trump has doubled down on his use of the what often seems to be the only arrow in his quiver.

“Tariffs are the answer,” the president told CNBC.

“As soon as I put tariffs on the table, it was done. It took two days,” Trump said. “If we didn’t have tariffs, we wouldn’t have made a deal with Mexico.”

Over the weekend, the New York Times disputed that claim, citing reports from negotiators on both sides that said that the major components of the deal had been reached months before. The timetable of the asylum agreement and the number of Mexican troops deployed to the country’s Guatemala border were apparently adjusted after Mr. Trump threatened to launch a new trade war.

Regardless of how true the president’s claim that tariffs saved the day is, Trump seems determined to repeat the strategy again and again. In fact, he has already threatened another country with a new round of tariffs.

On Monday, the president threatened to impose new tariffs on China if President Xi Jinping does not attend the G-20 meeting later this month. In a phone interview with CNBC, President Trump said that he would immediately implement tariffs on the approximately 60 percent of Chinese imports that are not currently subject to import taxes. American consumers ultimately pay the tariffs on imported goods, but the higher cost of the imported goods decreases demand and lower sales ultimately hurt the foreign companies… or so protectionists hope.

China is “going to make a deal because they’re going to have to make a deal,” Trump told the CNBC host, claiming “China is getting absolutely decimated by companies that are leaving China, going to other countries, including our own, because they don’t want to pay the tariffs.”

For their part, China has threatened to shut off supplies of rare earth minerals to the US. China controls 90 percent of the world’s supply of rare earths, which are vital to the construction of electronic items such as smartphones, electric vehicles, and weapon systems.

If that weren’t enough, President Trump is already threatening to raise tariffs on Mexico once again. In a Monday morning tweet, the president said that if Mexico’s legislature failed to approve the deal, “tariffs will be reinstated!”

Mexico and the United States have a new trade treaty pending ratification by both countries and Canada. Trump’s repeated tariff threats against Mexico may make ratification difficult.

President Trump’s tendency to go back to the well on the tool that he is able to implement without congressional approval is proving to be a problem. While the self-proclaimed “Tariff Man” says that “tariffs are a beautiful thing,” others disagree.

Myron Brilliant, the executive vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, warned against Trump’s use of tariffs, saying, “The weaponization of tariffs, the increase of threats on our economy, on our farmers, on our manufacturers, our consumers, is going to hurt our country. It also creates uncertainty with our trading partners.”

Trump fired back that Brilliant was “not so brilliant” and said, “He’s not protecting our country. He’s protecting companies who are members” of Chamber. The Chamber of Commerce represents American companies.

Mr. Trump’s tariff war runs risks both at home and abroad. Retaliatory tariffs by foreign trading partners hurt American exporters while Trump’s trade taxes are being paid by Americans, wiping out the gains from his tax reform. The constantly changing tax structure for imports and exports makes it difficult for American companies to plan for the future. If the trade war persists until the election, Republicans might find that businesses abandon them for Democrats who are perceived as more pro-business than a party that won’t challenge Mr. Trump’s erratic tax increases.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Monday, June 10, 2019

Focus Group Shows Pennsylvania Swing Voters Standing By Trump

President Trump’s 2016 Electoral College victory ran through Pennsylvania and the Rust Belt states of Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. While several polls have shown that Trump’s support in these states where he won narrow victories has eroded, a new focus group of Pennsylvania voters suggests that many Trump swing voters have not abandoned the president.

A recent focus group of Pennsylvania voters gives hope to Trump supporters that the president can pull off another upset victory in 2020. The Engagious/FPG focus group, which is discussed in an Axios article, contained several Obama/Trump voters who were unanimous in their continued support for Donald Trump.

Although they were not happy with Trump’s behavior, the focus group voters did like his performance on the economy. One of the voters, Tara Biddle, a 37-year-old kindergarten teacher, said, “I would be willing to vote for someone other than Trump who would continue the initiatives he's started” on the economy, trade, and immigration.

“The only thing I would say, I'd like someone to get his Twitter account away,” commented Tim G., 52.

When it comes to the Mueller report, the focus group’s swing voters were not impressed. “You could investigate every president; they’re all shady," said Jessica G. "Let’s just move on and let him do his job.”

The swing voters described their ideal leader as “assertive,” a “negotiator,” “powerful,” and “Christian.” Many of them agreed that these words also described President Trump.

The Pennsylvania voters stand in contrast to similar focus groups in Ohio and Wisconsin. Ohio voters yearned for Barack Obama while the Wisconsin voters liked much of Trump’s policy but were put off by his personality and temperament. Both groups seemed ready to abandon Trump for a Democrat.

The downside for Trump supporters is that the Pennsylvania focus group contained only eight swing voters, which is far too small to constitute a statistically viable sample. While the focus group’s voters solidly stand by their man, polling tells a different story.

One of the few polling firms that does regular state-level polling of President Trump’s approval rating is Morning Consult. The earliest poll in the series is January 2017, just a few months after the election. At that point, Trump had a net approval rating of 10 points. The most recent survey found the president underwater with a net approval rating of negative seven points. Another poll of Pennsylvania voters back in March yielded similar results with 61 percent of voters saying that Trump should not get a second term.

In 2016, Trump’s victory in Pennsylvania was a slim one. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 1.2 percent of votes cast, just over 68,000 votes. A swing of 17 points in his approval over the past two years could indicate that Trump’s support in the state has cratered despite the backing of the eight members of the focus group. It would take relatively few Trump voters going back to the Democrats to turn the state blue again.

While Pennsylvania with its 20 electoral votes is not a must-win state for Trump next year, his path to victory becomes much more difficult without it. Assuming all other state outcomes remain the same as 2016, if Trump loses Pennsylvania, he would lose the election if he also lost either Florida or Ohio.

With its mills benefitting from the president’s protective tariffs on steel and aluminum, Pennsylvania is one of the states most positioned to benefit from the trade war. If President Trump cannot win there, it is unlikely that he can carry the other Rust Belt states that he needs. Meanwhile, red states such as Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Texas are becoming battleground states, largely due to the impact of the trade war on farmers.

In the end, the picture of Pennsylvania is mixed. Neither Democrats nor Republicans can be certain of the holding the state at this point. President Trump’s re-election cannot be written off either is it assured.

“I’m not saying [Trump] will win the state,” pollster Terry Madonna told Philadelphia website Billy Penn in March. “I’m merely pointing out we better be careful about saying he can’t win the state.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Friday, June 7, 2019

The Tariff Wars Are Killing Tax Reform’s Boost

Tax reform is so far the one significant legislative victory of the Trump Administration. The law that brought corporate tax rates down to a point where they were competitive with the rest of the world was sorely needed and individual tax cuts were the icing on the cake. However, the president’s tariffs, which are defined as “a tax or duty to be paid on a particular class of imports or exports,” are offsetting the competitive advantage that tax reform brought to American companies as well as the tax cut for consumers.

In a report that focuses on the individual aspects of tax reform, Bloomberg reports that middle-class earners got an average tax break of about $931 per the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. The New York Federal Reserve estimates that the tariff wars have already cost the average household about $831. On average, the trade wars have eaten up all but about $100 of the benefits of tax reform for the middle class.

The report also cites estimates on new tariffs threatened by President Trump. The tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods would be estimated to cost an average family of four about $2,294 annually according to Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a coalition of business groups opposed the trade war. Gary Hufbauer of the Peterson Institute for International Economics estimates that Mr. Trump’s tariffs on Mexican imports could cost households an additional $1,700 annually if the tariffs reach the highest level threatened by the president. The combined total cost of $3,994 annually to American families would be more than four times the average benefit from tax reform.

Many other taxpayers may have already passed the point where tariffs have eaten up any advantage from tax reform. A Tax Policy Center analysis of IRS tax data found that low-income households got an average tax cut of only about $40. Since low-income households rely disproportionately on cheap imports from China and elsewhere, tariffs have likely already eaten up any advantage that these households received from tax reform. About six percent of taxpayers received a double whammy when they paid more under the new tax law and then were forced to pay tariffs (and/or pay higher prices for domestic goods due to decreased competition) as well.

The effect of tariffs reaches beyond American households, however. Data on the effect of the corporate side of tax reform is harder to come by, but Accounting Today reported last year that the cost from the steel and aluminum tariffs was larger than the tax savings from tax reform for major automakers General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler for the first quarter of 2018. The report, made in July before the trade war heated up, forecast that tariffs could eat up a third to a half of the benefit of tax reform.

“The steel and aluminum tariffs hurt,” Ed Cohen, Honda Motor Co.’s vice president for government and industry affairs, said at the time. “The tax bill was intended to spur economic activity and this will have the opposite economic effect.”

The Tax Foundation estimated that, if fully implemented, the tariff war would offset about half of the benefit of tax reform, reducing US GDP by about 0.79 percent or $196 billion. The group also forecast that wages would fall by 0.51 percent and more than 600,000 jobs would be lost.

A recent poll from Monmouth University found that Americans overwhelmingly oppose Mr. Trump’s tariff war. Almost half of respondents - 47 percent - said that tariffs hurt the US economy compared to 25 percent who think they help. Sixty-two percent believe that US consumers will be stuck with the bill for the tariffs.

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform agreed, saying, “Tariffs are taxes. They are very disruptive. Trade wars are civil wars and the losers are both Americans.”

Even Republican politicians agree that the tariff war is harmful. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said that tax reform “vaulted America back into the most competitive economy” but that “higher tariffs and the uncertainty that comes with trade disputes” are not good for the economy.

President Trump’s approval has already slumped in red states since the onset of the trade war. Farmers, a core Trump constituency, have been particularly hard hit by Trump’s trade policies. The Rust Belt states, home to many factory workers impacted by the tariffs, also show high disapproval for Trump in recent polling.

Even before the tariff taxes took a bite out of tax reform, the law was unpopular due to tradeoffs and flaws in its implementation. Changes to withholding tables led many taxpayers to be surprised by smaller than expected refunds or, worse, by unexpected tax bills that required them to write checks to the IRS. Individual tax revenues increased after tax reform, partly due to higher wages and economic growth, but total federal tax revenue fell by 0.4 percent as corporate tax payments dropped sharply. Thus far, the deficit has increased due to flat tax revenues and increasing federal spending.

With consumers paying more taxes due to President Trump’s tariff war and many seeing scant benefit from tax reform in either paychecks or tax refunds, Mr. Trump has given the Democrats a number of talking points as the nation careens toward the 2020 elections. Unless the president can start claiming some victories in the trade war soon, Republicans might find that businesses are exiting their coalition to support a pro-trade Democratic candidate.

The Resurgent

Trump Should Accept Mexican Concessions To Avert Trade War

In an effort to avert a trade war that could damage the economies of both countries, Mexico is reportedly offering concessions to President Trump. Mr. Trump’s threatened tariffs on Mexico are slated to go into effect on June 10 and would likely provoke a targeted response from our neighbor to the south.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Mexico was offering two major concessions to head off a new tariff war. First, the Mexican government offered to deploy 6,000 National Guard troops to its border with Guatemala, a major entry point for Central American migrants on their way to the US.

Second, Mexico is proposing changes to its asylum rules that would allow refugees to be returned to the first nation that they entered after leaving their home country. For example, Guatemalans would typically remain in Mexico while their request for asylum is processed and Salvadorans and Hondurans would have to remain in Guatemala.

Administration officials cautioned that there is currently no deal and cautioned that the concessions might not be sufficient to avoid the trade war. The president has not yet responded to the Mexican offer publicly, but tweeted on Wednesday that talks were progressing “but not nearly enough.”

Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News on Thursday that the US was encouraged by the Mexican proposal, but that tariffs were still scheduled to be implemented on Monday. Fox cited two additional Administration officials who said that reports of an imminent deal were untrue.

In other developments, Mexican security forces intercepted a caravan of about 1,000 Central American migrants and detained more than 400 of the marchers per the AP. The migrants, who said they were fleeing gang violence, extortion, and corruption in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador as well as a severe drought in the region, intended to seek asylum in the US. Reuters also reported that Mexico had frozen the bank accounts of 26 people accused of human trafficking.

As we’ve pointed out before, Trump’s tariffs actually tax American purchasers of imported products, not foreign manufacturers. Although the higher cost of imported goods reduces demand and can eventually hurt foreign companies, Americans bear the brunt of the tax increase. Decades after NAFTA, many US companies have supply lines that run through Mexico and products often cross the border several times during the manufacturing process. The tariffs would increase the cost of many products finished in the US and would ultimately kill many American jobs.

Recent polling shows that Americans oppose Trump’s tariff policies by a two-to-one margin and since the onset of the trade war the president has lost ground even in many red states. Mr. Trump’s approval in the Rust Belt states that propelled him to victory in 2016, states that would be hard hit by a trade war with Mexico, is already underwater.  Earlier this week, a new poll from Texas, another state with close economic ties to Mexico, found Donald Trump trailing Joe Biden.

The new tariffs would have to be applied by declaring a new national emergency since the applicable law was not cited in the president’s previous emergency declaration. However, more than half of voters have consistently opposed the use of national emergencies to tackle the problem of illegal immigration across the southern border. The idea is drawing widespread criticism from Republicans in Congress and could spark a backlash that is large enough to override a President Trump’s veto.

If President Trump agrees to the concessions, it would represent a major victory for his strategy of threatening tariffs to force compliance. However, if the president allows the tariffs to go into effect, he could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The defeat could extend beyond an embarrassing rebuke from Congress to a humiliating landslide loss next year as farmers and factory workers impacted by the tariffs abandon both the president and the Republican Party.

Originally published by the Resurgent