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 41 
 on: April 06, 2018, 07:31:10 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the Los Angeles Times....

Once a Trump favorite, EPA chief Scott Pruitt
might not be able to save his job


By EVAN HALPER | 2:40PM PDT — Thursday, April 05, 2018

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has energetically pursued the administration's deregulation agenda, but ethical lapses have endangered his tenure. — Photograph: Andrew Harnik/Associated Press.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has energetically pursued the administration's deregulation agenda,
but ethical lapses have endangered his tenure. — Photograph: Andrew Harnik/Associated Press.


ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY chief Scott Pruitt once seemed immune from the Trump Cabinet chaos. No more.

Questions are dogging Pruitt over first-class plane trips at taxpayer expense, a housing deal from a lobbyist's wife and big government payouts for his friends. The anti-regulatory crusader's days in the Trump administration may be numbered.

By midweek, even Pruitt looked rattled by how fast things were unraveling as he struggled to explain on national television how two aides he recruited from his home state of Oklahoma came to receive immense pay hikes — one of almost $57,000 — that the White House had refused to authorize. He bristled when asked how accepting a below-market room-rental from the wife of a Washington lobbyist whose firm does business before the EPA fit with President Trump's vow to "drain the swamp."

Worse of all, the on-air shaming came from the president's favorite conservative cable channel, Fox News.

Pruitt has found little refuge at the White House. Asked on Wednesday whether Trump was comfortable with the alleged ethics lapses swirling around Pruitt, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was unexpectedly frank. “The president's not,” she said. “We're reviewing the situation.”

On Thursday, the White House repeated its concern. “We expect that administrator Pruitt [will] answer those questions,” said Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley.

But Pruitt, who denies any ethical lapses or abuse of taxpayer money, may yet hang onto his job at the EPA. As Trump boarded Air Force One Thursday, he was asked if he had confidence in Pruitt: “I do,” he said.

Later Trump told reporters he would “look at” the reports about Pruitt and “make that determination.” But he added, “I think he's done a fantastic job. I think he's done an incredible job. He's been very courageous. It hasn't been easy.”

Still, Pruitt's abrupt transformation into the black sheep of the Cabinet has Washington abuzz. Buffered by the adoration that oil and coal industries heap upon him as he dismantles Obama-era environmental policies, Pruitt had avoided the turbulence and turnover gripping Trump's inner circle. His supporters had once even floated his name as a possible attorney general replacement.

An unapologetic skeptic of climate change, Pruitt takes an approach that's unnuanced and unyielding. The myriad actions he launched against clean air and water rules, and limits on greenhouse gas emissions — such as this week's attack on the fuel economy standards championed by California — have won him approval from conservatives. Even if the courts ultimately block most of his rollbacks, as environmentalists predict, the legal frenzy and protests that Pruitt's actions have created in liberal states delight Trump allies.

Some of those allies are rushing to Pruitt's defense as he confronts charges that he abused his office and showed poor ethical judgment. But even before the controversies over pay hikes and housing deals, White House confidence in Pruitt was eroded by headlines about Pruitt's penchant for flying first-class at taxpayer expense. He insisted security concerns mandated first-class tickets, but vowed to scale it back in the future.

Pruitt's luxury plane travel, demands for a large personal security detail and other spending at the agency triggered alarms for some of the EPA staffers who managed such things. Several of them, according to The New York Times, were reassigned or demoted when they brought their concerns to Pruitt. The head of Pruitt's security detail was reportedly reassigned soon after refusing Pruitt's request to use a government vehicle's sirens and flashing lights to cut through Washington traffic during a nonemergency trip. EPA officials said Pruitt had no role in when sirens were used.

Pruitt says the cascade of allegations about his ethics is part of a conspiracy against him and the Trump policy agenda. The former Oklahoma attorney general is confronting it the way he has confronted most every issue during his short tenure in Washington: by avoiding the mainstream media and taking his story to conservative outlets like Fox and the Washington Examiner. As those calling for his resignation grew midweek to include two House Republicans, Pruitt told the Examiner it was all much ado about nothing.

“It's toxic here,” he said of Washington. “There are people that have long in this town done business a different way and this agency has been the poster child of it,” Pruitt said. “And so, do I think that because we are leading on this agenda that there are some who want to keep that from happening? Absolutely. And do I think that they will resort to anything to achieve that? Yes.”

The drama around Pruitt is reviving another storyline the White House hoped to move past. The trade publication Inside EPA reported on Thursday that a key source of the damaging information circulated about Pruitt is former White House staffer Rob Porter, who resigned amid allegations he had been physically abusive with women, including two ex-wives.

The report cites anonymous sources. Porter has not commented. But one of Pruitt's top confidants is an ex-girlfriend of Porter's who informed the White House about his alleged history of violence against women. That Pruitt aide, policy advisor Samantha Dravis, resigned from the EPA last week.

Just before she left the agency, Senator Thomas R. Carper (Democrat-Delaware) had begun raising questions about Dravis' work history. Last week, he asked the EPA's inspector general to investigate reports he had heard that Dravis was absent from work for much or all of November, December and January.

Pruitt and the EPA did not respond to requests for comment from the Los Angeles Times.

Whether the White House will have his back for long is far from certain. Top officials there are making known their frustration that Pruitt's controversies are undermining the president's promise to root out corruption in Washington.

If the EPA chief hangs on, it may be because Trump can't afford to add yet more turmoil to a Cabinet already filled with it.

He abruptly dismissed his secretary of State and his Veterans Affairs chief over Twitter in recent weeks. And since Trump's appointment of CIA Director Mike Pompeo to the secretary of State job leaves the CIA post to be filled, that means three Senate confirmation battles are looming as the Republican-led Congress tries to hang on to power in this year's mid-term elections. A contentious fight over EPA leadership would create more problems for the party.

There were already three open EPA inspector general investigations into Pruitt before this week, involving his first-class travel, his hiring practices and his installation of a $43,000 phone booth in his office to deter eavesdroppers. And the inspector general is now considering the launch of a fourth investigation, this one into the deal he negotiated for a condo owned by the wife of Washington lobbyist J. Steven Hart, whose practice incudes energy and transportation issues.

Under the arrangement, first reported by ABC News and Bloomberg, Pruitt spent $50 a night to lease a bedroom in the Capitol Hill unit for the first half of 2017. Pruitt paid only for the nights he stayed.

“This was like an Airbnb situation,” Pruitt told Fox. “When I was not there, the landlord, they had access to the entirety of the facility. When I was there, I only had access to a room.”

But most people wanting to stay a block from the Capitol for $50 a night are more likely to end up on a pullout couch. Pruitt said the EPA ethics office was okay with the arrangement. But the office issued a written clarification pointing out that it was only okay with the facts it was informed about. It did not consider, for example, the propriety of the landlord also providing housing for no additional charge to Pruitt's daughter, who reportedly stayed in the unit while interning in Washington.

While many Republicans are defending Pruitt, some say it has all become too much.

“Major policy differences aside, @EPAScottPruitt's corruption scandals are an embarrassment to the administration, and his conduct is grossly disrespectful to American taxpayers,” tweeted Representative Carlos Curbelo (Republican-Florida). “It's time for him to resign or for @POTUS to dismiss him.”

Pruitt, meanwhile, has some explaining to do to the White House about how two of his confidantes came to get giant pay raises against its instructions. After getting turned down by the White House, the EPA granted the raises by invoking a provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act that allowed Pruitt to make up to 30 hires without White House or congressional approval. The salary of one of the aides was boosted to $164,200 from $107,435. The other saw their salary go to $114,590 from $86,460.

Soon after The Atlantic broke the story on Tuesday, Pruitt rescinded the raises. He said he had no idea they had been given and that it was not appropriate. Pruitt revealed all this on Fox News.

The network was unimpressed. Its reporter followed up with scolding questions and suggested Pruitt should be embarrassed.


__________________________________________________________________________

• Evan Halper writes about a broad range of policy issues out of Washington D.C. for the Los Angeles Times, with particular emphasis on how Washington regulates, agitates and very often miscalculates in its dealings with California. Before heading east, he was the L.A. Times bureau chief in Sacramento, where he spent a decade untangling California’s epic budget mess and political dysfunction.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-pruitt-epa-controversy-20180405-story.html

 42 
 on: April 06, 2018, 06:27:16 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey



 43 
 on: April 06, 2018, 06:22:43 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

Trump gets only a fragile glimmer of hope

The president isn't a ‘criminal target’ of the DOJ. How can that be?

By HARRY LITMAN | Thursday, April 05, 2018



PRESIDENT TRUMP, according to reporting in The Washington Post, is pleased to learn from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that he is a subject, not a target of the Department of Justice's investigations. Should the White House be celebrating?

First we need to get the terminology straight, and in this case, straight from the United States Attorney's Manual, which is getting more readership from the general public these days than it normally gets from federal prosecutors.

The labels refer to three categories for those who are asked, or summoned, to testify before a federal grand jury.

A “witness” is someone who has useful information but no apparent involvement in a crime. A “subject” is a person whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury's investigation — he is not uninvolved, but he is also not for certain involved in a crime. And a “target” is someone against whom there is substantial evidence, a person who “in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant.” In other words, a target is likely to be charged.

Back to the president and the Mueller investigation.

For most observers, there is plenty of evidence that could make Trump not just the subject but a target of an obstruction of justice investigation. It includes the contemporaneous notes of former FBI Director James B. Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe about Oval Office pressure to ease up on Russia-related investigations; Trump's apparent understanding that former national security advisor Michael Flynn had improper contacts with Russia; his shifting account of the reasons for his actions until he told NBC's Lester Holt he was responding to “this Russia thing”; his fury at Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recusal from the matter; his many tweets raging at the probe.

And that is just the publicly available evidence. Mueller may have much more from the testimony of Flynn and others, particularly from former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.

But The Washington Post report suggests that Mueller isn't persuaded: He apparently told the president he wasn't a criminal target. How can that be? Has the special counsel gathered exculpatory evidence that we don't know about? Is there some flaw in the above catalog?

One hypothesis making the rounds focuses on the unusual nature of the probe itself. Justice Department policy precludes the indictment of a sitting president. Instead, Mueller will probably eventually issue a report to the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who will decide whether to make it public. That report could very well be the basis of an impeachment referral, but it wouldn't be an indictment per se. So Trump isn't a target because Mueller can't and won't charge him in criminal court.

This hypothesis, however, fails to take into account Mueller's deserved reputation for integrity. Telling the president he isn't a target, but meaning it only in the most technical of ways, is squirrelly, and it's inconsistent with the special counsel's straight-shooting character.

For anyone who knows Mueller, a better explanation is this: The special counsel is maintaining an open mind with respect to Trump's guilt, though to many on the outside of the investigation, the evidence against him is overwhelming.

To prove obstruction of justice, you have to know the mental state of the defendant. It's a charge based particularly on intent, not just actions. This distinction would apply with special force in the case of a sitting president, who has broad constitutional authority to shut down a criminal investigation such as the Russia probe for any number of legitimate purposes.

Mueller has yet to interview the president, he has yet to hear in detail what he and his lawyers have to say about the matter. If Trump or his lawyers can persuade Mueller (or, more precisely, create a reasonable doubt in his mind) that the president acted for any non-corrupt purpose — even a mistaken or puerile one — Mueller would have to stay his hand.

The news that Mueller does not consider Trump a criminal target probably best translates as follows: I have built a very strong case against you, including strong evidence that you acted corruptly, to safeguard your personal interests. But it's conceivable that something else was in play, and you should be given a full opportunity to spell this out for me. Until you do, or until you turn down that opportunity, I am keeping an open mind and you are not a target, merely a subject of the investigation.

Trump is quite likely just a hair's breadth from target status. Moreover, it's hard to imagine given the available evidence what cogent exculpatory account of his intent the president could actually provide. Mueller's guidance that Trump is not a criminal target adds up to a glimmer of hope, but little cause for crowing in the Trump camp.


__________________________________________________________________________

Harry Litman teaches constitutional law at UC San Diego. He is a former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general.

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=b6da3357-92c7-4149-bde6-f85ccaf2aa4d

 44 
 on: April 06, 2018, 06:10:13 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey



 45 
 on: April 05, 2018, 11:04:58 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The New York Times....

White House Tries to Tamp Down Trade War Fears as China Retaliates

As markets seesawed and industries fretted, American officials held out the possibility
that tariffs outlined this week might never go into effect.


By ANA SWANSON and KEITH BRADSHER | Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Chinese border police officers watching the arrival of a container ship at a port in Qingdao, China. On Wednesday, China threatened to retaliate against many of the American products and industries that President Trump has vowed to protect. — Photograph: China Topix/Associated Press.
Chinese border police officers watching the arrival of a container ship at a port in Qingdao, China. On Wednesday, China threatened to retaliate against
many of the American products and industries that President Trump has vowed to protect. — Photograph: China TopixAssociated Press.


WASHINGTON — White House officials moved quickly on Wednesday to calm fears of a potential trade war with China, saying the administration's proposed tariffs were a “threat” that would ultimately help, not hurt, the United States economy, hours after China said it would punish American products with similar levies.

The administration's insistence that a trade war was not imminent came as the United States and China traded tit-for-tat penalties that caused wild swings in stock markets from Hong Kong to New York. Led by more audacious leaders than either country has had in decades, China and the United States are now locked in a perilous game of chicken, with the possibility to derail the global economic recovery, disrupt international supply chains and destabilize the huge yet debt-laden Chinese economy.

White House officials reiterated on Wednesday that China must stop the “unfair” trading practices President Trump believes have disadvantaged American companies and workers, but they held out the possibility that tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods outlined on Tuesday might never go into effect.

“There's no trade war here,” Larry Kudlow, Mr. Trump's new top economic adviser, said in an interview on Fox Business Network. He described the threat of tariffs as “just the first proposal” in a process that would involve negotiations and back-channel talks. “I understand the stock market's anxiety,” he said. “But on the other hand, don't over-react.”

Behind the scenes, however, top officials remained split over the administration's approach as the United States and China move into a period of high-stakes negotiations. That includes how far to go in punishing China and the types of concessions the White House should accept to avoid a protracted and damaging trade war.

People familiar with the negotiations say Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, and Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, have at times argued for more dialogue with the Chinese and quicker concessions that would help diminish the trade deficit — the gap between what China imports to the United States and what America exports. Other top trade advisers, including long-time China critics like Robert Lighthizer and Peter Navarro, have taken a tougher stance, arguing that these changes would do little to address the mercantilist and protectionist trade policies China has adopted for decades.

Mr. Trump's advisers said the president remains resolute and views the pugilistic approach as the only way to force China to end two decades of industrial policies that have hollowed out American manufacturing and resulted in a ballooning trade deficit.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump suggested in a tweet that he saw no reason to back down, since the United States was already on the losing end of trade with China.

“We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S.,” he wrote. “Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!”

He added in another tweet, “When you're already $500 Billion DOWN, you can't lose!”

It remains unclear whether China will bend to the pressure and make significant changes to its economy — or whether the White House strategy will instead tip the two nations into a trade war that could harm both countries. Producers of American goods like soybeans, pork, automobiles and semiconductors depend on access to the Chinese market both for exports and production and say they are fearful about a conflict.

“Companies are definitely caught in the middle of this,” said Kenneth Jarrett, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.

Economists predict that the direct effects of the tariffs will be relatively small for both China and the United States, since they apply to only a fraction of each country's economic output.

”It's hardly a life-threatening activity,” Mr. Ross said in an interview on CNBC. He added that the volume of the tariffs was in line with the White House's calculation that the Chinese have cheated the United States out of $50 billion worth of intellectual property through coercion and cyber-attacks.

While tariffs would affect a small part of the overall United States economy, they impinge on a relatively large share of American exports to China. If China places tariffs on $50 billion of goods from the United States, as promised, that would be more than one-third of American exports to China. In contrast, American tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods would affect only one-tenth of China's vast exports to the United States.

Within that slice of the economy, the pain could be acute. American farmers and manufacturers, in particular, could suffer. On Wednesday, China said it would penalize American soybeans, cars, chemicals and other goods, hours after the United States announced tariffs on flat-screen televisions, medical devices and industrial machinery.


Imported soybeans at a port in Nantong, China. China outlined tariffs on $50 billion worth of American goods, including soybeans, cars and chemicals, in response to a Trump administration plan to hit Chinese products imported to the United States with tariffs. — Photograph: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
Imported soybeans at a port in Nantong, China. China outlined tariffs on $50 billion worth of American goods, including soybeans,
cars and chemicals, in response to a Trump administration plan to hit Chinese products imported to the United States with tariffs.
 — Photograph: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.


The economic effects could also quickly escalate beyond tariffs. The United States is preparing restrictions that could prevent China from investing in high-tech industries like semiconductors and electric vehicles, and it may consider other restrictions, including visas.

China, in return, could make life more difficult for the many American companies that do business in the country, or pare back its purchases of United States debt. China is the largest foreign holder of American debt, holding about $1.17 trillion in United States bonds, notes and bills in January, according to the Treasury Department.

“China has many ways it can make life exceedingly uncomfortable for a large number of American businesses, both those that are hoping for access to China's fast-expanding market, and those that use China as an important part of their supply chains,” said Eswar Prasad, a professor of international trade at Cornell University.

The Trump administration contends that if it does not challenge Beijing now, the Chinese government will heavily subsidize its companies to become dominant producers of cutting-edge industries from robotics to electric cars. That could imperil the United States' ability to create good-paying jobs for future generations, relegating the country to producing food, fossil fuels and financial services, while China extends its lead as the world's largest manufacturer.

But the administration's strategy for halting China's rise has been hard to discern, with some advisers insisting that China must remake its economy, while others say the priority is to reduce the trade deficit, prioritize market access for American companies or end China's infringement on American intellectual property. Some top officials have indicated the tariffs may never be implemented.

On Wednesday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, refused to say whether the tariffs would ultimately go into effect, adding, “I would anticipate that if there are no changes to the behavior of China and they don't stop the unfair trade practices, then we would move forward.”

Companies have until May 22 to submit comments to the administration about the tariffs, with the penalties to be imposed at an undetermined date. Separate tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from China and other nations went into effect late last month.

In the meantime, American officials including Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Lighthizer have been in talks with the Chinese about ways to resolve their differences. Yet conversations have so far focused on concessions like China reducing tariffs on American cars, opening up its market for financial services and purchasing more semiconductors or natural gas — minor wins that are unlikely to satisfy Mr. Navarro and Mr. Lighthizer, who are pushing for significant and sweeping changes to China's market, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

The United States has also asked for a $100 billion reduction in the $375.2 billion trade deficit it runs with China. But the goods China has offered to buy to narrow that gap — including semiconductors — are not products the Trump administration wants to export. And some advisers say these kind of sales will not do anything to address the underlying problems with the Chinese economy.

China experts say an inconsistent message and approach could undermine America's ability to successfully negotiate.

“We're all over the map,” said Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The Chinese are trying to take advantage of this lack of consensus and get the United States to take a quick deal that leaves China's industrial policy machine intact.”

Beijing is also eager to show other trading partners that it will not be bullied into changing its policies.

“I'm not very positive about large concessions or changes that are going to come from China,” said Heiwai Tang, an assistant professor of international economics at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. China's current government is more assertive than recent ones, he said, and the country is heavily dependent on technology transfers from advanced economies as it tries to transform its own.

For the Chinese to successfully negotiate, analysts said, they have to be able to present the deal to their own people as a win. But the United States has refused to give concessions and has painted the confrontation as one in which China must ultimately lose.

“Tariffs are seen as a direct slap in the face, and it will be very difficult for the Chinese government to sit back and take those blows without retaliating,” Mr. Prasad said.

On Wednesday, Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the United States, said China preferred to resolve the conflict through talks but would keep its options open.

“Negotiation would still be our preference, but it takes two to tango,” Mr. Cui said. “We will see what the U.S. will do.”


__________________________________________________________________________

Jim Tankersley and Alan Rappeport contributed reporting.

• Ana Swanson writes about trade and international economics for The New York Times. She previously covered trade, the Federal Reserve and the economy for The Washington Post.

• Keith Bradsher is the Pulitzer Prize-winning Shanghai bureau chief for The New York Times, having reopened the Shanghai bureau on November 14th, 2016. He has previously served as the Hong Kong bureau chief and the Detroit bureau chief for The Times. Before those postings, he was a Washington correspondent for The Times covering the Federal Reserve and international trade, and a New York-based business reporter covering transportation and telecommunications for The Times. Born in 1964, Mr. Bradsher received a degree in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar. He received a master's degree in public policy with a concentration in economics from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. Prior to joining The New York Times, Mr. Bradsher wrote for the Los Angeles Times from 1987 until 1989.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: What Bananas Tell Us About Trade Wars


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/business/the-united-states-is-starting-a-trade-war-with-china-now-what.html

 46 
 on: April 05, 2018, 10:19:44 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

A trade-war between America and China is an excellent idea.

Especially when Chinese retaliation trashes the jobs of stupid Trump-supporters in America, eh?




from The New York Times....

How U.S.-China Trade Spat Could Threaten Manufacturing

If the tariffs stand, along with China's retaliatory moves, they could damage
industries that have relied on a global supply chain for their recovery.


By NATALIE KITROEFF and BEN CASSELMAN | Wednesday, April 04, 2018

A Boeing 737 on the assembly line in Renton, Washington. Aircraft and their parts are the single largest American export to China, making Boeing a tempting target in a trade war. — Photograph: Credit Kevin P. Casey/Bloomberg.
A Boeing 737 on the assembly line in Renton, Washington. Aircraft and their parts are the single largest American export to China,
making Boeing a tempting target in a trade war. — Photograph: Credit Kevin P. Casey/Bloomberg.


IN THE escalating economic showdown between the United States and China, President Trump is trying to put American shoppers first. The administration did not place tariffs on necessities like shoes and clothes, and mostly spared smartphones from the 25 percent levy on Chinese goods announced this week.

But by shielding consumers, Mr. Trump has put American manufacturers — a group he has championed — in the cross hairs of a potential global trade war. If the measures stand, along with China's retaliatory tariffs, they could snuff out a manufacturing recovery just beginning to gain steam.

“If you want to spare the consumer so you don't get this massive backlash against your tariffs, then there goes manufacturing, because that's what's left,” said Monica de Bolle, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “The irony is, you cannot spare manufacturing from anything because manufacturing is globally integrated. The sector sources its parts and components from all over the world.”

That intricate supply chain often runs directly between the two countries, sometimes in both directions. Chinese factories make wing panels and doors for Boeing's Next Generation 737 planes, which are assembled by union workers in Renton, Washington. General Motors makes its Buick Envision, a sport-utility vehicle, in Shandong Province, and sells it to American consumers. Construction workers in Denver use building materials manufactured in China, made in part from ethane gas produced in Texas.

A central aim of Mr. Trump's America First agenda is to bring back pieces of the supply chain lying outside the country. The tariffs announced this week are just a bargaining point in a broader negotiation between the United States and China over trade.

“They are trying to force end-product manufacturers here to use more American content by making it more expensive for them to use Chinese content,” said William Reinsch, a trade expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


A man rides past shipping containers in Shanghai. President Trump's tariffs signal an end to a policy of seeking to integrate China's economy with the West. — Photograph: Aly Song/Reuters.
A man rides past shipping containers in Shanghai. President Trump's tariffs signal an end to a policy of seeking to integrate China's economy
with the West. — Photograph: Aly Song/Reuters.


The United States trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, has said that the administration carefully conceived the tariffs using an algorithm that would “maximize the impact on China and minimize the impact on U.S. consumers.”

The result is a list of more than 1,300 targets, many of them obscure products that may not deliver a direct hit to consumers' wallets. The victims include industrial robots, chemicals, medical devices and heavy machinery used in everything from processing food to crushing rock.

Such industries have been a vibrant piece of the economy, adding 224,000 jobs in the past year, the strongest growth since the recession ended nearly nine years ago. But underpinning that rebound has been a strong global appetite for American goods — demand that could now be weakened.

“This is a pretty tenuous recovery, and employment is still at much lower levels than it was before the crisis,” said Mark Muro, an economist at the Brookings Institution. “This is not a super dynamic, healthy industry.”

Recent job growth has been concentrated in industries that could be affected by American tariffs on China, Chinese tariffs on the United States, or both.


In Beijing last week a woman carried a shopping bag from Coach, the New York-based handbag maker. American businesses have flocked to China to tap its huge consumer market. — Photograph: European Pressphoto Agency/Shutterstock.
In Beijing last week a woman carried a shopping bag from Coach, the New York-based handbag maker. American businesses have flocked to China
to tap its huge consumer market. — Photograph: European Pressphoto Agency/Shutterstock.


Some of the strongest gains in the past year have come from makers of metal products, industrial machinery and transportation equipment. All those industries rely heavily on steel and aluminum, goods that Mr. Trump hit with tariffs earlier this year in a move aimed indirectly at China's production.

In the latest salvos, the United States took aim at a multitude of technical components — items like circuit breakers, consoles and touch screens. Those tariffs could raise costs for electronics manufacturers, who have been hiring more aggressively lately and whose supply chains run through China.

Beijing, for its part, zeroed in on an array of American products, including plastics, a fast-growing export. Chinese companies imported $3.2 billion worth of plastic resins from the United States in 2017, according to the American Chemistry Council, a trade group. Chinese factories turn those resins into building materials, automobile instrument panels, eyeglasses and thousands of other products, many of which end up back in the United States.

The plastics tariffs alone could send ripples deep into Trump country. In recent years, companies have announced billions of dollars of investments seeking to capitalize on the boom in American natural-gas production. Some of those investments were to go into new plants in Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states to turn gas into chemicals and plastics, much of it bound for China.

Companies aren't likely to abandon those plans overnight, said Calvin M. Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council. But if the trade barriers persist, projects could be in jeopardy. “That is going to impede our ability to capitalize on that competitive advantage,” Mr. Dooley said.


Ford F-150 pickups on a Michigan assembly line in 2014. Decades of trade actions and reactions have shielded Detroit's automakers from foreign competition in light trucks. — Photograph: Credit Paul Sancya/Associated Press.
Ford F-150 pickups on a Michigan assembly line in 2014. Decades of trade actions and reactions have shielded Detroit's automakers
from foreign competition in light trucks. — Photograph: Credit Paul Sancya/Associated Press.


Even with the flurry of measures and countermeasures between the United States and China, the moves so far have touched only a fraction of their $650 billion in annual trade. But they are beginning to signal how much damage could be caused, and who would suffer most.

In some cases, the tariffs seem intended to deliver a message rather than a fatal blow. The United States said it would impose tariffs on aircraft parts — an important and high-profile American industry, but not one facing much competition from China. Beijing said it would impose tariffs on cars and S.U.V.s, the third-largest American export to the country. But the move may not hit American automakers as hard as it might seem.

China already has a 25 percent tariff on imported cars, so General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Ford have all agreed to manufacture inside the country as joint ventures with domestic producers, to avoid the extra charge to consumers. Foreign carmakers operating in the United States — Daimler and BMW — do send vehicles to China from factories in the Southeast. A report by analysts at Evercore ISI suggests that those companies, rather than the Detroit automakers, would bear the brunt of the Chinese levies.

Tesla might have the most to lose. The electric-car company had been lobbying hard for permission to produce cars in Shanghai, but hasn't reached a deal. It sends vehicles to the Chinese market from its plant in Fremont, California, and its chief executive, Elon Musk, has expressed frustration even at the existing duties.




Aircraft and their parts are the largest single category of American exports to China, making Boeing a big target. For now, though, Beijing seems to be moving slowly. It said it would impose tariffs on planes between 15,000 and 45,000 kilograms, which includes some older models that Chinese buyers have ordered from Boeing. But it seemed to stop conspicuously short of whacking the company's newer 737 MAX 8, which weighs 45,070 kilograms empty.

That near miss is meant to convey to Boeing, and Mr. Trump, what China is capable of, said Richard L. Aboulafia, a long-time aviation and aerospace analyst at the Teal Group.

“Their attitude toward a trade war assumes that the other side will lie down and stay horizontal,” Mr. Aboulafia said. “I'm not sure the easy and fun approach to trade wars holds up against return fire.”


__________________________________________________________________________

Keith Bradsher contributed reporting.

• Natalie Kitroeff covers the economy and heavy industry for The New York Times. Before beginning work at The N.Y. Times she covered the California economy for the Los Angeles Times until 2017. She previously reported on higher education and student debt at Bloomberg. Born outside of Philadelphia, she graduated from Princeton University.

• Ben Casselman writes about economics and other business topics for The New York Times, with a particular focus on stories involving data. He previously served as chief economics writer for the data-journalism web site FiveThirtyEight, and before that as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Casselman won a Loeb Award in 2011 for his coverage of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and was part of a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. A graduate of Columbia University, Mr. Casselman lives in New York with his wife.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • Trump's China Policy Has a Flaw: It Makes China the Winner

 • The Post-World War II Order Is Under Assault From the Powers That Built It

 • The Trade Issue That Most Divides U.S. and China Isn't Tariffs

 • How Trump's Protectionism Could Backfire

 • Trade Wars Can Be a Game of Chicken. Sometimes, Literally.


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/business/economy/trade-impact.html

 47 
 on: April 05, 2018, 10:17:20 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The New York Times....

China Strikes Back at the U.S. With Plans for Its Own Tariffs

The measures, targeting $50 billion worth of soybeans, cars and other goods,
were the latest move in the countries' escalating trade confrontation.


By KEITH BRADSHER and STEVEN LEE MYERS | Wednesday, April 04, 2018

China on Wednesday outlined plans to impose tariffs on soybeans and other American goods. — Photograph: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg.
China on Wednesday outlined plans to impose tariffs on soybeans and other American goods. — Photograph: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg.

SHANGHAI — China hit back at the United States on Wednesday with proposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of American soybeans, cars, chemicals and other goods, in a move likely to stoke fears that the countries' escalating confrontation could become an all-out trade war.

Moving with unusual speed, Chinese officials outlined plans to make it more costly to import 106 types of American goods into China. They are intended to hit the United States square in the farm belt — a major section of President Trump's political support but also a major supplier of what China stocks in its supermarkets.

Beijing's plan to institute new tariffs was announced just hours after the Trump administration detailed its own protections on a similar value of Chinese-made aircraft parts, cars and car parts, televisions, steel and much more. Following a previous round of tit-for-tat tariffs unveiled over the past few days, the new measures have sparked concerns that the dispute could widen further, hurting jobs and growth in both countries.

Investors drove financial markets lower over the prospect that the two sides were not yet done fighting.

“China has never succumbed to external pressure,” Zhu Guangyao, vice minister of finance, said at a news briefing on Wednesday. He added, “External pressure will only make the Chinese people more focused on economic development.”

The question now is whether the two sides will intensify their efforts to punish each other before they sit down to negotiate. Neither set of tariffs go into effect right away, though the exact timing of the Chinese measures was not clear.

The dueling tariffs still do not impact the majority of trade between the two countries, which is valued at nearly $650 billion a year. Still, economists say that the clash could escalate quickly if the two sides fail to find a way to quickly resolve their differences, threatening a commercial relationship that is essential to the world economy.

Letting the dispute turn into a test of wills would be a mistake, said Jie Zhao, a senior research fellow at Fudan University in Shanghai.

“We should negotiate in a professional way,” Ms. Zhao said, “and make it less ideological and emotional.”

China's proposed new tariffs cover a significant chunk of what it buys from the United States. The protections on the $50 billion of goods announced on Wednesday, together with those on the $3 billion worth of products that Beijing unveiled earlier this week in retaliation for American tariffs on global steel imports, account for about a third of China's American imports.

By contrast, because the United States imports significantly more from China, tariffs on the same amount of products make up roughly one-ninth of its Chinese imports. That gives the United States more room to find other Chinese products to target.


A pig farm in Iowa in 2014. China will impose a 25 percent tariff on American pork, an important moneymaker, especially in farming regions in states that voted for President Trump. — Photograph: Daniel Acker/Reuters.
A pig farm in Iowa in 2014. China will impose a 25 percent tariff on American pork, an important moneymaker, especially in farming regions
in states that voted for President Trump. — Photograph: Daniel Acker/Reuters.


Even as Chinese officials struck a defiant tone on Wednesday, they still said they wanted to avoid escalating the conflict.

“China's attitude is clear,” Mr. Zhu, the vice minister of finance, said. “We don't want a trade war because a trade war would hurt the interests of both countries.”

China could still fight back in other ways. Its control over its domestic economy and news media, and its homegrown internet, give it a strong hand in controlling public opinion and minimizing the potential impact on its consumers. In the past, China has mobilized its vast ranks of consumers to turn up their noses at products from Japan, the Philippines and South Korea during political disputes, though getting Chinese consumers to stop buying iPhones and Chevrolets could be trickier.

The two sides are clashing with the future in mind. President Trump instituted his latest round of tariffs against China while citing Beijing's government-driven efforts to retool the country's economy to focus on the technologies of the future. Known as the “Made in China 2025” program, the plan specifies efforts to build up cutting-edge industries like robotics, aerospace and electric cars.

Many companies in Europe and the United States say they fear the program will create state-supported competitors, an argument that has won backing in the Trump administration. Some companies say that Beijing finds ways to force them to hand over technology if they want to sell their wares in China, an allegation that Chinese officials dispute.

China appears to show little interest in putting the “Made in China 2025” efforts on the negotiating table. A report in state-controlled media on Wednesday described the development of advanced manufacturing as “an inherent requirement for the transformation and upgrading of China's manufacturing industry, and it is also the only way for China's economy to enter a high-quality development stage.”

For now, China's new tariffs could create a more immediate issue for the Trump administration.

While they include plenty of goods Americans make, they have a heavy focus on products Americans grow: soybeans, corn, cotton, beef, frozen orange juice, even tobacco and whiskey. Many of those products come largely from Republican-dominated states, where lawmakers might be expected to have some influence with President Trump and could therefore persuade him to back down from his latest trade demands.

For manufactured goods, the new Chinese tariffs include cars and car parts, plastics, aerospace products and chemicals. Many of those products are also sold by European companies, giving Chinese buyers alternatives. The new tariffs announced on Wednesday will amount to 25 percent on the American products.

Chinese officials — who blamed President Trump for provoking the clash — have appealed to the World Trade Organization, which sets trade rules and moderates disputes, to resolve the feud. But both sides risk censure by the W.T.O. — the Trump administration for its tariffs, and China for swiftly retaliating without a proper review.

“A key time has come for the United States and China to form a new consensus that includes intellectual property and the opening up of markets,” said Song Guoyou, the deputy chief of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University. “Otherwise, trade may fluctuate a lot.”


__________________________________________________________________________

Keith Bradsher reported from Shanghai, and Steven Lee Myers from Beijing. Ailin Tang contributed research.

• Keith Bradsher is the Pulitzer Prize-winning Shanghai bureau chief for The New York Times, having reopened the Shanghai bureau on November 14th, 2016. He has previously served as the Hong Kong bureau chief and the Detroit bureau chief for The Times. Before those postings, he was a Washington correspondent for The Times covering the Federal Reserve and international trade, and a New York-based business reporter covering transportation and telecommunications for The Times. Born in 1964, Mr. Bradsher received a degree in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar. He received a master's degree in public policy with a concentration in economics from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. Prior to joining The New York Times, Mr. Bradsher wrote for the Los Angeles Times from 1987 until 1989.

• Steven Lee Myers is a veteran diplomatic and national security correspondent, now based in the Beijing bureau. He joined The New York Times in 1989, and has previously worked as a correspondent in Moscow, Baghdad and Washington, where he covered the State Department, the Pentagon and the White House. He is the author of The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2015.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • White House Unveils Tariffs on 1,300 Chinese Products

 • China Slaps Tariffs on 128 U.S. Products, Including Wine, Pork and Pipes


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/business/china-us-tariffs.html

 48 
 on: April 05, 2018, 10:15:10 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

Yep....it's hugely entertaining watching those Republicans running around like headless chooks in Trump territory, panicking.

The mid-term elections later this year are going to be a real hoot!!




from The Washington Post....

The Republicans' panic about their big Wisconsin loss is revealing

The angrier party is the one that wins. We know which party that is right now.

By PAUL WALDMAN | 1:36PM EDT — Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Photograph: Ralph Freso/Getty Images.
Photograph: Ralph Freso/Getty Images.

YESTERDAY there was an election for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court (and yes, it's insane that we choose judges this way, a system used almost nowhere else in the world). The election was won rather easily by the liberal candidate, Rebecca Dallet.

In response, Governor Scott Walker (Republican) issued a call to arms for Republicans in his state and around the country:




This idea that politicians win by sharing “our positive story with voters” is a common part of our collective mythology about how campaigns work. But it's utterly, completely wrong.

I'm pretty sure nobody understands that fact better than Walker. Because there may be no governor in the United States who has worked harder to rig the game in his party's favor than he has. As soon as he got elected, Walker began a long war on unions in the state, knowing they are one of the cornerstones of Democratic power. He signed a voter ID law that successfully disenfranchised thousands of voters. He rewrote the state's campaign finance laws to decrease transparency and enhance corporate influence. And he presided over one of the most aggressive gerrymanders of state legislative districts anywhere in the country, which has allowed Republicans to retain large majorities in the legislature even when they get fewer votes than Democrats.

In other words, Walker doesn't seem to believe that sharing his positive story with voters is enough to win elections. And on that, he's completely right.

For better or worse — usually, but not always, for worse — fear and anger are much more powerful determinants of election outcomes than which party has the more compelling positive story to tell. The reason the opposition party almost always picks up seats in midterm elections is that they're the ones who are mad, so they're the ones who turn out to vote.

It happens in general elections, too. Every once in a while you get a candidate like Barack Obama running on hope, but even in 2008, his win was fed in no small part by anger at President George W. Bush. And it's a little rich for Walker to claim that Democrats are driven by anger and hatred, when the leader of his party got elected by saying Mexicans are rapists and by promising to build a wall on our border, ban Muslims from entering the country and throw his opponent in jail.

But let's say the Republican Party decided that Walker is right, and they just need to share their positive story this fall. What would they say?

Well, they'd say they cut taxes. And … um … yeah … they cut taxes.

That gets to a key weakness of the GOP's “positive story.” As the party of small government, their positive story is pretty thin. They've had complete control of government for nearly 15 months, and what have they done besides that tax cut? They tried and failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They repealed some Obama-era regulations. They haven't reformed the immigration system, though they did manage to pass a budget. They increased military spending.

But that's pretty much it, and Republicans have decided they aren't going to be doing any more major legislation between now and the election. The only big things they want to do are things they know the public would freak out about, like privatizing Medicare, so they aren't going to try. It doesn't add up to much of a positive story to tell, even if you think that a positive story is what they need to prevent that blue wave.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that parties don't need to tell voters what they want to accomplish. We're seeing that with the Democrats that have been having such success in special and off-year elections since 2016: They've talked plenty about what they want to do in office. But they've also counted on anger at President Trump to get their voters excited and mobilized. As the party of government, they have a much more substantial agenda to offer. But it's only in years such as this one, when their voters have reason to be mad, that they can really capitalize.

But we're going to keep getting told this tale about how the positive story is what matters. After every loss in the last year or so, Republicans have repeated some variation of: “We just didn't do a good enough job explaining how great our policies are.” If only they had been able to make people understand how the tax cut has transformed everyone's lives for the better, they would have won in a rout. I can promise you, if there is indeed a blue wave this November, Republicans are certain to keep saying that it was a failure of communication, not of their (or Trump's) policies or ideas.

The sad truth is that we're caught in a cycle of reaction and counter-reaction that shows no sign of abating. Bill Clinton got elected and then Republicans got mad and took back Congress, then George W. Bush got elected and Democrats got mad and took back Congress, then Obama got elected and Republicans got mad and took back Congress, then Trump got elected and Democrats got mad and are probably going to take back Congress, or at least the House.

But if the GOP wants to follow Walker's advice and keep telling their positive story, they should go right ahead and see how it works out for them.


__________________________________________________________________________

• Paul Waldman is a contributor to The Plum Line blog at The Washington Post, and a senior writer at The American Prospect.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2018/04/04/the-republicans-panic-about-their-big-wisconsin-loss-is-revealing

 49 
 on: April 05, 2018, 09:37:34 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

McConnell sounds alarm over mid-terms: ‘We don't know
whether it's going to be a Category 3, 4 or 5’


The top Senate Republican also offered an argument for keeping the Senate
in Republican hands, should the GOP lose the House.


By SEAN SULLIVAN | 12:41PM EDT — Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky) talks during a news conference at the Capitol on March 6th. — Photograph: J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky) talks during a news conference at the Capitol on March 6th.
 — Photograph: J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press.


SENATE MAJORITY LEADER Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky) is predicting a difficult mid-term election year for his party, likening it this week to a severe storm.

“This is going to be a challenging election year,” McConnell said in a Tuesday interview with the Kentucky Today editorial board. “We know the wind is going to be in our face. We don't know whether it's going to be a Category 3, 4 or 5.”

The interview marked some of the bluntest comments this year by the top Senate Republican, who is defending a 51-49 majority in November. McConnell raised the possibility that Republicans will lose their House majority. In doing so, he offered a potential argument Republican Senate candidates could use on the campaign trail.

“I'm hoping we can hold the Senate,” he said, “and the principal reason for that, even if we were to lose the House and be stymied legislatively, we could still approve appointments, which is a huge part of what we do.”

McConnell's remarks came as other prominent Republicans have been issuing warnings about the mid-terms. After a Wisconsin Supreme Court win by Democrats on Tuesday, Republican Governor Scott Walker warned of a “#BlueWave” in a post on Twitter.

The Republican leader has been warning about the difficult climate for months. “We go into this clear-eyed that this is going to be quite a challenging election,” he told The New York Times in February.

McConnell has frequently said that the Senate is in “the personnel business,” referring to its power to confirm executive branch nominees and federal judges. Last year, McConnell said the “single biggest issue in bringing Republicans home” in the 2016 election “was the Supreme Court.” That year, McConnell refused to fill a Supreme Court vacancy until after the election, making it an issue for voters to decide on in the campaign.

While recent special elections have shown there is a lot of energy in the Democratic Party, largely because of anger with President Trump, winning back control of the Senate will not be easy for the minority party. Democrats are defending seats in 10 seats in states Trump won in 2016. These include West Virginia and North Dakota, where Trump won by a wide margin.

For many conservative activists, judicial nominees are an important issue, giving McConnell's emerging pitch on behalf of Republican Senate candidates some potential to energize them. At the same time, McConnell is battling against criticism from some on the right that he has not been an effective leader. Even Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, whom McConnell helped recruit to run for the Senate, would not commit to supporting him as leader if he is elected.

“I think it's a little premature to say who I would and wouldn't vote for,” Hawley said in a recent interview with The Washington Post.


__________________________________________________________________________

• Sean Sullivan covers national politics for The Washington Post. Before joining The Post in the summer of 2012, he was the editor of Hotline On Call, National Journal Hotline's politics blog. He has also worked for NHK, Japan's public broadcaster, and ABC News. Sullivan is a graduate of Hamilton College, where he received a degree in philosophy.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: Will President Trump be a drag on Republicans running in 2018?

 • Uncertainty about McCain's future fuels GOP questions about Senate seat


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2018/04/04/mcconnell-sounds-alarm-over-midterms-we-dont-know-whether-its-going-to-be-a-category-3-4-or-5

 50 
 on: April 05, 2018, 07:33:32 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

Hahaha.....the Republicans are continuing to lose elections in “Trump country”.

Bring on the mid-term elections.




from The Washington Post....

Democrats just won another big race in Wisconsin
 — and Republicans are panicking


Here's what the Democrats' win in a Wisconsin Supreme Court race tells us about November.

By AMBER PHILLIPS | 9:41AM EDT — Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Wisconsin candidate Judge Rebecca Dallet greets supporters as they watch returns on election night at Good City Brewing in Milwaukee. — Photograph: Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel/Associated Press.
Wisconsin candidate Judge Rebecca Dallet greets supporters as they watch returns on election night at Good City Brewing in Milwaukee.
 — Photograph: Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel/Associated Press.


“WE ARE at risk of a blue wave in Wisconsin.” That's none other than the governor of Wisconsin, a Republican, warning his party on Tuesday night that things could go badly for them in just a few months — including his own re-election.



The evidence Governor Scott Walker has to back up that prediction is pretty solid: On Tuesday, Democrats won a statewide election for a state Supreme Court seat by more than 11 points. That comes after Wisconsin Democrats won a special election for a state Senate seat in January in historically Republican territory.

Walker was already ringing the alarm bells after that first loss in January. He figured it would serve as a lesson for Republicans not to get complacent after so many years of Republicans dominating this state.

Now that he has lost another race, this one statewide with a candidate he was all in for, Walker is outright hitting the panic button for his party. Here are tweets he fired off Tuesday night:






Some of this is clearly a messaging strategy. Walker is attempting to leverage these losses to spring his party into action: Donate, knock on doors and, most important, be as motivated as Democrats clearly are to show up and vote.

But Walker's actions elsewhere revealed how suddenly he is truly concerned about Democrats: After January's loss, he tried to pause two other special elections, which would leave the seats vacant for a year. The GOP-controlled state legislature even tried to pass a bill banning special elections in the state after April in an election year. The courts overruled Walker's attempts to halt them, and Walker is under a court order to hold those elections in June.

Democrats, conversely, are pretty amped up after Tuesday's win. Rebecca Dallet's victory was the first open Supreme Court race that a progressive has won since 1995. Democrats erased a similar decades-long drought by winning January's state Senate seat.

“If Walker thought a small little Senate district up in the northwestern part of the state going Democratic for first time [in decades] was a wake-up call,” said Wisconsin Democratic operative Scot Ross, “this would be a Category 8 hurricane.”

These Supreme Court elections are technically non-partisan, which makes this statewide race an imperfect comparison to November's governor and Senate races. (Walker is trying to win a third term in November, and Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, is one of our top most vulnerable incumbents in Senate races.)

But both sides made very clear who was their favorite potential justice. Walker backed his candidate, Michael Screnock, with GOP party money, by some estimates making up 40 percent of total fundraising for him. The National Rifle Association sent mailers for Screnock. A manufacturing association spent nearly $1 million on ads for him.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden made a robo-call for Dallet. The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, headed by Eric H. Holder Jr., President Barack Obama's former attorney general, also spent money in this race.

And Dallet's win wasn't just a warning to Republicans. Her win shifts the court from a 5-2 conservative majority to 4-3, and it gives Democrats the possibility of overtaking the majority in time for the court to chime in on any GOP-drawn electoral maps after the 2020 Census. The U.S. Supreme Court is deciding on whether Wisconsin's state legislative districts are unconstitutionally partisan in favor of Republicans.

For all of Walker's alarm-bell-ringing, Republicans close to him say he's not reading too much into losing this seat. There is plenty of data that shows Democrats winning judicial races in the spring and Republicans going on to have a good November.

Plus, the Wisconsin Republican Party is one of the most organized and effective state parties in the nation. It can arguably claim to have won Donald Trump the presidency in November.

But across the nation, Republicans are on the receiving end of warning signs that their party could be in for a terrible election year. And right now, Wisconsin is no different.


__________________________________________________________________________

• Amber Phillips writes about politics for The Fix at The Washington Post. She was previously the one-woman D.C. bureau for the Las Vegas Sun and has reported from Boston and Taiwan.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: What Democrats need to win the House

 • Wisconsin Republicans put Trump over the top. Now they're trying to prove it wasn't a fluke.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/04/04/democrats-just-won-another-big-race-in-wisconsin-and-republicans-are-panicking

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