Sunday, August 04, 2019

CA Governor signs law barring Trump's name from the primary ballot without releasing his tax returns

As usual, the Left have no foresight.  There are more states run by Republicans than Democrats so what is to stop red states enacting similar laws to ban Democrat front-runners from ballots in their states?  A banning contest might HELP the GOP
California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Tuesday that would bar President Donald Trump’s name from appearing on the state’s 2020 primary ballot unless he discloses his tax returns. Newsom “justified” the bill, arguing, “These are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence.” So, the party that loudly opposes any form of voter ID laws out of faux concern for potential voter suppression has now put forth a draconian piece of voter-suppression legislation. Even former Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown wouldn’t dare go this far, as he vetoed a similar measure over concerns that it was unconstitutional.

However, in this era of Trump Derangement Syndrome, Democrat concern for constitutionality is no longer even feigned. But they would have done well to listen to Brown, who argued, “It sets a ‘slippery slope’ precedent. Today we require tax returns, but what would be next? Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power? A qualified candidate’s ability to appear on the ballot is fundamental to our democratic system. For that reason, I hesitate to start down a road that well might lead to an ever escalating set of differing state requirements for presidential candidates.”

Brown’s argument is a cogent one. What stops Texas, Georgia, or Florida from coming up with their own laws clearly aimed at suppressing the ability of a Democrat presidential candidate from getting his or her name on the ballot?

Obviously, this move is meant to once again highlight the long-running Democrat complaint that Trump has not released his long-form tax returns. That’s an action most modern presidential candidates have willingly taken, but one the Constitution does not require.

Clearly, however, this law is ripe for legal action.  The bill also violates the 1st Amendment right of association since California can’t tell political parties which candidates their members can or cannot vote for in a primary election.” It would seem the one-party oligarchs in California disagree.

Another 10 states are considering similar legislation.



Obama’s legacy undermined from within

Sam Clench

Years after he left office, Barack Obama’s legacy is under serious threat from the unlikeliest of sources. This time it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.

For six hours this week, across two separate debates, the candidates fighting for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination slugged it out on stage.

Because I’m a nerd and apparently a bit of a masochist, I watched the whole tedious exercise. One thing stood out.

While the Democrats spent plenty of time bashing Donald Trump and his “dark psychic energy” — that’s a real quote, I promise — he was not their only target.

Many of them also took aim at his predecessor Barack Obama.

It is hard to understate just how stunning that sentence is.

Think back to January of 2017 when Mr Obama left office as one of the most popular presidents in American history. The idea of any mainstream Democrat criticising his record was pretty much unthinkable. Now it is commonplace.

As Democratic voters decide who will confront Mr Trump next year and, they hope, become Mr Obama’s successor, they are wrestling with just how much of his legacy to preserve — and how much to reject.

Two major policy areas are at the heart of the argument. The first is healthcare.

Mr Trump won the presidency promising to repeal Mr Obama’s signature achievement, Obamacare, which expanded health insurance coverage to millions more Americans. The President ultimately failed to follow through. He couldn’t find enough votes in Congress.

But having stubbornly defended the healthcare law from his efforts, some of the top tier Democratic candidates now want to scrap it and start again.

Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris all support replacing Obamacare with some form of “Medicare for all”.

That could mean something along the lines of Australia's system, where everyone is covered by Medicare but private insurance is still available. Or it could be more radical. Ms Warren and Mr Sanders both want to ban private health insurance entirely.

Obamacare barely passed after an extremely ugly legislative fight a decade ago. It was seen, by his own party at least, as a historic achievement. Now many in that same party believe it did not go nearly far enough.

The only major candidate vociferously defending it is Joe Biden — and he has no real choice in the matter, having served as Mr Obama’s vice president. He can hardly disown the policies he helped craft.

A number of candidates are also being fiercely critical of Mr Obama’s record on immigration, particularly his administration’s mass deportation of three million undocumented migrants.

Many of them support decriminalising the act of crossing the border as a means to remove the legal justification for locking migrants — including children — in detention centres.

On stage this week, Mr Biden came under fire from Mr Obama’s former housing secretary Julian Castro, a leading advocate of that approach. Mr Biden was pressured to explain whether he had argued against the mass deportation policy from his position of influence in the White House. He refused.

“I found that the secretary, we sat together in many meetings, I never heard him talk about any of this when he was the secretary,” Mr Biden said in frustration.

“It looks like one of us has learned from the lessons of the past and one of us hasn’t,” Mr Castro shot back, getting large cheers from the crowd. “What we need are some politicians who actually have some guts on this issue.”

The clear implication was that Mr Biden, and by extension Mr Obama as well, did not show the necessary fortitude when they were in power.

Mr Biden continued to defend his former boss, bristling at suggestions Mr Obama had been almost as harsh on undocumented migrants as Mr Trump. “To compare him to Donald Trump, I think, is absolutely bizarre,” he said.

Democrats are still reluctant to slam Mr Obama explicitly and directly by name. But there is no denying much of the current political debate is being framed around a rejection of his policies.

The party has moved conspicuously to the left since 2016, making positions that used to be untenable a core part of several candidates’ platforms. But going too far in that direction could prove disastrous if it costs the eventual nominee swing voters in the general election.

The fact is, Mr Obama was aggressively centrist compared with most members of the current Democratic field, and he is still wildly popular — particularly among Democratic voters, with whom he has an average approval rating of more than 85 per cent.

Rejecting his successful, election-winning political philosophy in favour of something markedly more progressive would be a tremendous gamble.

“It was weird for me to watch about 40 minutes of primarily attacks on the Obama administration’s policies,” said MSNBC’s Joy Reid after the debate on Wednesday night. “It was an odd strategy to me. It’s almost as if the debate forgot who was president.”

Former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough, who now hosts a morning news program, echoed her. “These candidates are attacking Barack Obama’s policy positions more than Donald Trump. That is politically stupid and crazy,” he said. “Hit Trump. Not Obama. It’s not that hard, folks.”

Mr Biden remains the odd one out. His entire campaign is premised on the calculation that Americans are nostalgic for the Obama years. If anything, he risks clinging too tightly to the former president.

That problem was summed up pretty well earlier this year on National Best Friends Day when Mr Biden posted this cringe-worthy tweet. "Happy #BestFriendsDay to my friend, @BarackObama."

Even after being roundly mocked for overegging it, Mr Biden has continued to invoke his relationship with Mr Obama, often using his former boss as a shield against criticism.

It’s a strategy that doesn’t work quite so well when his opponents are perfectly willing to criticise Mr Obama’s record. On immigration, for instance, Mr Biden simply can’t escape his share of the blame. “You can’t have it both ways. You invoke President Obama more than anyone else in this campaign. You can’t do it when it’s convenient and then duck it when it’s not,” one rival, Cory Booker, said on Wednesday night.

But Mr Booker and the other Democrats are arguably trying to have it both ways as well.

On the one hand, they will inevitably want voters to associate them with Mr Obama. You can guarantee the former president will appear often on the campaign trail next year, regardless of who claims the nomination.

On the other, they are distancing themselves from huge parts of his record, including his one signature achievement.  Ultimately, Mr Obama’s own party might undermine his legacy more thoroughly than Donald Trump ever could.



The Trump economy remains strong as 2020 fast approaches

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at an inflation adjusted 2.1 percent in the second quarter of 2019, upping the ante for the remaining quarters in order to get to 3 percent growth for the year, according to data compiled by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The U.S. economy has not grown above 4 percent since 2000, and not above 3 percent since 2005.

2018 got close, growing at 2.93 percent, the best year since 2005, according to the most recent data. That was better than 2015, which came in at 2.91 percent.

The first quarter the economy grew at 3.1 percent, but with the slowing in the second quarter, now, the economy must catch up in order to get back on track for 3 percent for the year.

Suffice to say, that’s probably not going to happen. Most likely, the economy winds up in mid-2’s somewhere for the year. Which is not great but not terrible, either.

The Trump economy is still markedly improved from the preceding years. Unemployment remains at a 50-year low of 3.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Almost 4.9 million more Americans say they have jobs since Trump took office in Jan. 2017.

Wage growth from 2017 forward is the best seen since the financial crisis, most recently at 2.8 percent growth in the first quarter of 2019. Those are good numbers.

For 16-to-64-year-old working age adults, the economy is definitely improving. While the population of working age adults has increased by about 1 million between 2016 and 2018, the civilian labor force grew by 2.1 million. In 2019, labor participation is still increasing for that group, too, so we’re still on the right track.



Trump increases pressure on China for trade deal with new 10 percent tariff on the other $300 billion of goods while Chinese economy reels

China has proven itself to be an unreliable trade partner in its negotiations, says President Donald Trump, and now he is levying another 10 percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods that were untaxed.

This comes atop the 25 percent tariff on another $250 billion of goods that was hiked in May, which is expected to raise more than $50 billion in revenue this year to the U.S. Treasury.

Trump cited failure by Chinese President Xi Jinping to follow through on commitments he has made, stating on Twitter, “Our representatives have just returned from China where they had constructive talks having to do with a future Trade Deal. We thought we had a deal with China three months ago, but sadly, China decided to re-negotiate the deal prior to signing. More recently, China agreed to… buy agricultural product from the U.S. in large quantities, but did not do so. Additionally, my friend President Xi said that he would stop the sale of Fentanyl to the United States — this never happened, and many Americans continue to die!”

The President still held out hope that a deal could be reached, with the tariffs being a bit of additional incentive, writing, “Trade talks are continuing, and… during the talks the U.S. will start, on September 1st, putting a small additional Tariff of 10% on the remaining 300 Billion Dollars of goods and products coming from China into our Country. This does not include the 250 Billion Dollars already Tariffed at 25%… We look forward to continuing our positive dialogue with China on a comprehensive Trade Deal, and feel that the future between our two countries will be a very bright one!”

The breakdown of trade talks in May led directly to Trump putting the 25 percent tariff on $200 billion of goods — it had been at 10 percent — in addition to the 25 percent that had been levied on another $50 billion of goods.

The trade deal was said to have been in its final stages, but at the eleventh hour, Beijing changed the terms of the deal and promptly walked back prior concessions. According to a May 8 Reuters report, “In each of the seven chapters of the draft trade deal, China had deleted its commitments to change laws to resolve core complaints that caused the United States to launch a trade war: Theft of U.S. intellectual property and trade secrets; forced technology transfers; competition policy; access to financial services; and currency manipulation.”

Adding to the mix, the trade in goods deficit with China hit a record high in 2018 at $419.1 billion according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And that was with some of the tariffs in place.

Ostensibly, the only reason China had come to the table in the first place was President Trump’s threat of further tariffs and an attempt string along negotiators in the hopes of avoiding them. It appears to have been designed to test Trump, betting that perhaps he would not follow through on the tariffs.

Which, it’s hard to blame China for miscalculating. It’s used to just getting its way with the U.S. without consequence or blowback. Since China entered the World Trade Organization in 2001, U.S. manufacturing market share has dropped from 13.4 percent to 7.5 percent in 2017, according to World Bank data. China has risen from 5.3 percent to 16.6 percent in 2017, although their percent of global manufacturing market share has peaked in 2015 at 18.8 percent. During that time, the U.S. economy has not grown above 4 percent since 2000, and not above 3 percent since 2005 on an annual basis.

What they didn’t plan on was Trump. Now, there’s tariffs on $550 billion of goods. Either way, the decision to end the deal may have been so it could wait Trump out with 2020 right around the corner.  If Trump loses his bid for reelection, their problem is solved.

For Trump’s part, he seems to be betting China has more to lose in a trade war than the U.S. According to data by the U.S. Trade Representative. China’s $539.5 billion of goods exports to the U.S. comprised almost 4.1 percent of its $13.28 trillion Gross Domestic Product in 2018 and about 22.5 percent of its $2.4 trillion of goods exports. In contrast, American goods exports to China were $120.3 billion, comprising 0.58 percent of the 2018 annual GDP of $20.5 trillion, and comparatively 7.2 percent of its $1.66 trillion of goods exports.

And Trump may be right.

On June 17, “The Coming Collapse of China” author Gordon Chang on Fox Business reported to host Neil Cavuto, “China right now has an economy which is crumbling, could have been contracting last month. We saw that with bellwether car sales down 16.4 percent, the eleventh straight month of decline, the worst monthly decline eves. And imports were down 8.5 percent year on year, a real indication of declining domestic demand.”

Chang added, “This is an economy that is in severe trouble. They need the U.S. market desperately.”

So, maybe the tariffs are working. In this confrontation, Trump does not need a deal as much as China does, for he can inflict damage merely by encouraging manufacturers to move their business elsewhere, whether back to the U.S. or somewhere else. In “The Art of Deal,” Trump wrote, “Use your leverage.” That’s exactly what he’s doing — and it’s about time.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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