Monthly Archives: May 2018

Trump has officially put more tariffs on U.S. allies than on China

By Heather Long

President Trump, right, welcomes Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the White House in October. (Saul Loeb/Getty).

President Trump campaigned on going hard after China for ripping off the United States on trade. Yet a year and a half into his presidency, Trump has put more tariffs on longtime U.S. allies than he has on China, his supposed “bad guy” on trade. The Trump administration announced new tariffs Thursday on the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

Almost all of the reaction has been negative. Many are calling it a political and economic mistake.

America’s allies are stunned, stocks slid on Wall Street as trade-war fears returned, and economists are warning that Americans will soon face higher prices on a wide variety of products. A slew of Republican lawmakers immediately trashed the move as bad for the economy and foreign relations.

“Europe, Canada & Mexico aren’t China. You don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents. Blanket protectionism is a big part of why we had a Great Depression. ‘Make America Great Again’ shouldn’t mean ‘Make America 1929 Again.’ ” tweeted Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), joining an opposition that included many Republican officials and business groups.

Trump’s latest move takes the focus off China. Most countries (and U.S. lawmakers) agree with Trump that China isn’t playing fair on trade, but instead of turning the E.U. and Canada into allies in the trade fight against China, Trump is alienating them.

The president has threatened tariffs on an additional $50 billion in Chinese goods later this month, but he has often changed his mind, putting tariffs on hold or scaling them back before they go into effect. Right now, Canada and the E.U. are taking a bigger blow. (The E.U. and other allies would also bear the brunt of Trump’s proposed tariffs on autos).

Of …read more


Italy’s political crisis is the biggest threat to the euro so far

By Matt O’Brien

Italian President Sergio Mattarella (Fabio Frustaci/ANSA/AP)

Italy’s political crisis has brought Europe’s currency crisis back with a vengeance, and just about everything the establishment is trying to do to stop it is only making things worse.

The problem is, for the first time since all this started 10 years ago, Europe is facing the prospect of a country being led by a government that might genuinely want to leave the euro. The closest Europe had come to this before was three years ago when Greece’s far-left party Syriza threatened to do so as a bluff to try to win better terms on the country’s bailout package. It didn’t work.

Italy’s newly ascendant far-right party the League, though, doesn’t seem interested in mere concessions so much as freedom — the freedom to cut taxes and deport immigrants as much as it wants. Neither of those, of course, is allowed under Europe’s current rules. Which is why the League has played a double game where it’s said it doesn’t want to take the country out of the euro at the same time that it’s pushed policies and personnel that suggest otherwise.

Now, there are two things to understand about Italy’s dangerously dysfunctional politics. The first is that its mainstream parties have imploded under the weight of corruption scandals and an economy that hasn’t grown at all in the past 15 years, even when you account for the graying of the population.

The second is that its populist parties, which took the top two spots in the most recent elections, were just blocked by the head of state President Sergio Mattarella from forming the government that the League insisted on. He did that because he was worried that their choice of finance minister — a longtime euroskeptic named Paola Salvona who has said they need a “Plan …read more


White America’s racial resentment is the real impetus for welfare cuts, study says

By Caitlin Dewey

A sign opposing Medicaid expansion is displayed on a roadway in Center Cross, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

White Americans are increasingly critical of the country’s social safety net, a new study suggests, thanks in part to a rising tide of racial resentment.

The study, conducted by researchers at two California universities and published Wednesday in the journal Social Forces, finds that opposition to welfare programs has grown among white Americans since 2008, even when controlling for political views and socioeconomic status.

[They’re the think tank pushing for welfare work requirements. Republicans say they’re experts. Economists call it ‘junk science.’]

White Americans are more likely to favor welfare cuts when they believe that their status is threatened and that minorities are the main beneficiaries of safety net programs, the study says.

The findings suggest that political efforts to cut welfare programs are driven less by conservative principles than by racial anxiety, the authors conclude. T hat also hurts white Americans who make up the largest share of Medicaid and food-stamp recipients. President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans have proposed deep cuts to both programs.

“I think our research is very relevant to politics,” said Rachel Wetts, a doctoral candidate in sociology at UC Berkeley and the lead author of the new research. “My main hope here is that people take a step back, look at what these sorts of programs do for the poor, and think about what’s driving opposition to them.”

The demographics of welfare recipients in three federal programs. (Sources: Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Services, Kaiser Family Foundation)

Wetts and her co-author, Stanford University sociologist Robb Willer, conducted three separate experiments designed to gauge white Americans’ attitudes toward welfare …read more