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 Richmans' Trade and Taxes Blog

Peter Morici: Trump's Got It Right on Trade
Howard Richman, 1/30/2016

U. of Maryland economist Peter Morici, former chief economist at the USTR, endorsed Trump's trade plans, in a commentary this week. Here's how he begins:

Donald Trump has been savaged by economists and media aligned with establishment candidates for tough positions on trade — including a 45 percent tariff on imports to force China to the negotiating table.

Actually, he’s got it right.

Establishment Democrats and Republicans embrace free trade because it puts free markets first with benefits any decently trained economist should extoll. Unfortunately, trade with China and many nations is hardly market-driven.

It hurts U.S. growth and victimizes America’s families.

He estimates that just this year, the growth in the U.S. trade deficit with China cost by $25 billion cost an additional 200,000 U.S. jobs:...


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How to remove moderator bias from the presidential debates -- we're published in American Thinker this morning
Howard Richman, 1/29/2016

We begin:

The 2016 presidential primary debates are arguably at a breaking point.  Donald Trump's refusal to participate in Thursday night's Fox News/Google debate raises to a new level expressions of candidate dissatisfaction with debate questions and debate format. 

The problem is that the current format gives moderators and the news organizations that they represent way too much power.  They engineer the questions to be asked.  They control which candidates have an opportunity to answer what question, and for how long, and at what time.  They even pick members of the public to ask biased questions.  As a result, debates have gotten quite unfair.  For example:

  • Donald Trump.  The leading candidate in the Republican race pulled out of Thursday's debate after Fox News included Megyn Kelly as a questioner over Trump's objections, which stemmed from the question that she asked at the outset of the first debate.  In addition, some argue THAT Fox News and Google stacked the deck against Trump in advance of this week's debate with questions to be asked by an illegal immigrant U.S. Army veteran and by a Muslim-American – both young women.
  • Jim Webb.  The lone moderate in the Democratic Party's race dropped out of the Democratic campaign almost immediately after a frustrating first Democratic debate in which he felt he was ignored and poorly treated. 
  • Bernie Sanders.  According to Dick Morris, the format of CNN's final Democratic primary debate kept Bernie Sanders from challenging Hillary Clinton's lies.  And one of the "town hall" questioners revealed that he had been told to ask the softball question for Hillary that he asked.
  • Mitt Romney.  CNN moderator Candy Crowley and President Obama enacted what appeared to be a prepared script to get Obama off the hook for misleading the American people about the terrorist nature of the Benghazi attack, which left several dead Americans.
As these examples demonstrate, moderators and the organizations that they represent use their power over the process to tip the scales in favor of one candidate or the other.  Anti-establishment candidates appear to get targeted during the primary election debates, while Republicans get targeted in the general election debates. 

To read the rest, follow the following link:



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Climate change commitments to be added to NAFTA not TPP
Howard Richman, 1/25/2016

An article from IBTimes quotes the top U.S. trade official saying that the Paris climate commitments would not be added to TPP, because doing so could kill TPP:

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said Friday an embattled 12-nation trade deal was not an appropriate vehicle for fighting climate change.

But it then quotes the top Canadian trade official saying that, instead, strong North American commitments on climate would be added to NAFTA:...


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US-China Trade: National Review is the "buffoon" not Trump -- Ray and I are published in the American Thinker this morning
Howard Richman, 1/25/2016

We begin:

In one of National Review’s hit pieces against Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump (What Trump Doesn’t Understand – It’s a lot about our Trade with China), correspondent Kevin D. Williamson called Trump a “dangerous buffoon” because he would threaten tariffs upon China’s products, and thus risk a trade war with China. But it’s not Trump that is the buffoon on trade; it is the National Review!

Trump plans to take on the huge U.S. trade deficit with the world, and especially with China. He threatens to place upon Chinese products a tariff that is like the 45% tariff that China recently placed upon some U.S. cars. Such a threat could lead to negotiations between the U.S. and China about balancing trade, and Trump wrote the book on negotiations.

When an article tears into a candidate for having his facts wrong, the magazine that prints it probably should check to make sure that the candidate is actually wrong. But National Review failed to fact-check this piece. Its correspondent Kevin D. Williamson wrote:

China did put a punitive retaliatory tariff on some cars made by GM and Chrysler…. That was a 12.9 percent tariff, incidentally, nothing like the 45 percent that Trump imagines, and it is being withdrawn. Chinese buyers in fact love American cars — a Buick is a much bigger status symbol in China than in New Jersey.

But Chinese tariffs on big-engine American-made cars were in addition to China’s already existing 25% tariff on all U.S.-made vehicles. The Guardian, a British newspaper, got it right when the new tariff was announced. It reported on December 14, 2011:

General Motors faces the greatest impact, almost 22% extra on some sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and other cars with engine capacities above 2.5 litres. Chrysler faces a 15% penalty, while a 2% levy will be imposed on BMW, whose US plants make many of the cars it exports to China.

Existing taxes and duties already push up the cost of US imports by 25%, and the new levies make it even more expensive for Chinese consumers to buy American.

Let’s add up the numbers. China’s base tariff on American vehicles is 25%. In 2011 it announced that it would add an extra 22% on some cars. If you add 22% to 25%, the total is 47%, which is much closer to the 45% that Trump stated than to the 12.9% claimed by the National Review.

The U.S.-China Trade Relationship

The unwritten rule of U.S.-China trade is simple. The U.S. buys Chinese products, but China won’t buy American products unless they can’t be produced in China. As a result, the U.S. trade deficit (goods and services) with China has been growing, ever since President Bill Clinton gave China “most favored-nation” status and WTO membership in 2001, in return for reductions in China’s tariff rates.

During the year from October 2014 to September 2015, as shown by the right-most line in the graph below, the U.S. trade deficit with China was a record $338 billion:

To read the rest, go to:



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Sarah Palin to endorse Donald Trump at Iowa rally tonight
Howard Richman, 1/19/2016

According to the New York Times, Sarah Palin is going to endorse Donald Trump at a rally in Iowa tonight. Palin, like Trump, advocates balanced trade. Here's what I wrote in a a post on this blog on June 7, 2011:

The Los Angeles Times reports that Governor Palin met with Donald Trump during a May 31 visit to New York. In her remarks, she told reporters that she advocates balanced trade arrangements:

"What do we have in common? Our love for this country, a desire to see our economy put back on the right track," Palin told reporters. "To have a balanced trade arrangement with other countries across this world so Americans can have our jobs, our industries, our manufacturing again. And exploiting responsibly our natural resources. We can do that again if we make good decisions."...


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Had Pres. Bill Clilnton Banned Muslim Travel to the USA 9/11 Would Not Have Occurred
Raymond Richman, 1/5/2016

Candidate Donald Trump called for the United States to bar all Muslims from entering the country until the nation’s leaders can “figure out what is going on”. Saying that “hatred” among many Muslims for Americans is “beyond comprehension,” Mr. Trump said in a statement that the United States needed to confront “where this hatred comes from and why.” “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,” Mr. Trump said.

According to the New York Times, “Repudiation of Mr. Trump’s remarks was swift and severe among religious groups and politicians from both parties. Mr. Trump is “unhinged,” said one Republican rival, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, while another, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, called the ban “offensive and outlandish.” Hillary Clinton said the idea was “reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive.” Organizations representing Jews, Christians and those of other faiths quickly joined Muslims in denouncing Mr. Trump’s proposal…Mr. Trump made his remarks a day after President Obama delivered a national address from the Oval Office urging Americans not to turn against Muslims in the wake of the terrorist attacks.”

All seem to have forgotten that Muslims from many Mid-east countries participated in terrorist attacks in the U.S., attacks on U.S. passenger airplanes, attacks in friendly countries like the Philippines and France. The Muslim terrorists involved in those attacks came from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait, Pakistan, Chechenia, and others with Muslim populations.

Had the ban been imposed by Pres, Clinton after the first bombing of the Word Trade Center in 1993 and after the warnings he received from the Philippine Police after the attacks in the Philippines in 1995, we would have avoided the attacks of Muslims in the U.S. during the past two decades and saved thousands of American lives. According to Wikipedia, the following Muslim attacks took place in the U.S. since 1993:...


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Only Modest Tax Reforms Are Needed to Get Domestic Industry Growing Again
Raymond Richman, 12/24/2015

John H. Cochrane, senior fellow of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and formerly of the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, writing in and op-ed in the WSJ, 12-23-2015, entitled “Here’s What Genuine Tax Reform Looks Like” states that,  “The first goal of taxation is to raise needed government revenue with minimum economic damage.”  No, the first goal of taxation is to distribute the burden of taxation equitably, i.e., fairly. Minimizing economic damage is a very important goal.

Another important goal is adequacy to fund the functions of government without causing an undesirable level of inflation. Governments may impose fees and taxes based on the so-called benefit principle, such as court fees, charges to record transfers and ownership of property, and taxes on motor vehicles to finance the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges. Minimizing economic damage also includes avoiding excessive disincentives to work, invest, and save. There is nothing in Cochranes’ writing to indicate that he is an expert in the economics of public finance.

He prescribes a number of reforms, some of which I agree with. First and foremost is his proposal to abolish the corporate income tax. He is correct that “With no corporate tax, arguments disappear over investment expensing versus depreciation, repatriation of profits, too much tax deductible debt, R&D deductions, and the vast array of energy deductions and credits.” He does not conclude that corporate earnings should be taxed, instead, under the personal income tax, as I have proposed in recent publications.

Instead, he proposes that “government should tax consumption, not wages, income or wealth”, not inheritances, nor capital gains. Doing so, he argues, would eliminate the need for the “complex web of shelters”, including IRAs, health savings accounts, life insurance exemptions, and the “panoply of trusts that wealthy individuals use to shelter their wealth and escape the estate tax”. He would reduce the progressivity of the personal income tax, eliminate “All the various deductions, credits, and exclusions”....


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Does Nike's stock price fall indicate that TPP is dead?
Howard Richman, 12/24/2015

Why did Nike stock price just fall by 9.5%? According to zero hedge, Nike just released an earning report that was quite positive.

The explanation could come from this Market Realist article from back in March. Here's a selection:

Nike (NKE) is the world’s number one athletic footwear brand. It clocked $16.2 billion in global footwear sales. Nike’s footwear is manufactured abroad. This includes factories located in Vietnam and Malaysia—members of the TPP. It’s important to note that ~68% of Nike’s footwear is manufactured in these countries. Nike has 67 factories in Vietnam, including 26 footwear factories.

Other companies in footwear and sportswear include Skechers (SKX), Under Armour (UA), and Timberland (VFC). They also have factories in Vietnam. They would be affected by the TPP.

The stocks of all the other companies that produce shoes in Vietnam are also down:...


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Will the Trans-Pacific Partnership Force Us to Fund the Paris Climate Agreement? -- we're published in American Thinker this morning
Howard Richman, 12/20/2015

In this commentary, we respond to a CATO Institute critique (that appeared in American Spectator) of two of the arguments that we had made in an earlier commentary. We begin:

In a commentary in the American Spectator on December 16, "No one is Going to Enforce The Paris Climate Treaty through TPP," K. William Watson of the Cato Institute contributed to the ongoing discussion of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).  Watson addressed two of the arguments that we had made in our American Thinker commentary "What's Actually in the Trans Pacific Partnership?"  Although Watson made some useful points that highlight important nuances, at best, he defeated a straw man that was not our argument....

Watson saw the part of the environmental chapter which enforces multilateral environmental agreements (such as the Paris Climate Agreement) as "hortitory fluff."  He had written:

Article 20.4 in the Environment Chapter does not require the United States to abide by any international environmental agreements. It merely states that each party "affirms" its commitments under such agreements. The provision is legally meaningless hortatory fluff. In fact, one of the biggest complaints about the TPP from environmental activists is that it does not do what this theory claims. The last four U.S. free trade agreements before the TPP did require parties to abide by their environment commitments under other treaties subject to dispute settlement. The TPP intentionally does not.

But we demonstrated, by quoting the agreement, that it is enforceable:

The Commission could issue an interpretation that this provision of TPP includes the Paris Agreement.  The Environment Chapter of TPP begins with a definition that explicitly includes regulations promulgated pursuant to an international agreement as part of the environmental law that this chapter of TPP focused on enforcing.  Specifically, Article 20.1 states:

For purposes of this Chapter: environmental law means a statute or regulation of a Party, or provision thereof, including any that implements the Party's obligations under a multilateral environmental agreement, the primary purpose of which is the protection of the environment, or the prevention of a danger to human life or health[.]

And Article 20.23 of the Environment Chapter explicitly provides for dispute resolution:

If the consulting Parties have failed to resolve the matter under Article 20.20 (Environmental Consultations), Article 20.21 (Senior Representative Consultations) and Article 20.22 (Ministerial Consultations) within 60 days after the date of receipt of a request under Article 20.20 (Environmental Consultations), or any other period as the consulting Parties may agree, the requesting Party may request consultations under Article 28.5 (Consultations) or request the establishment of a panel under Article 28.7 (Establishment of a Panel).

Any country that is a party to TPP can charge any other country with violating TPP.  After evidence is presented to an arbitration panel and after due deliberations, the panel would issue a final report, which would determine whether the charged country was out of compliance.  Article 28.18 specifies:

If in its final report the panel determines that:  (a) a measure at issue is inconsistent with a Party's obligations under this Agreement; (b) a Party has otherwise failed to carry out its obligations under this Agreement; or (c) a Party's measure is causing nullification or impairment in the sense of Article 28.3(c) (Scope); the responding Party shall, whenever possible, eliminate the non-conformity or the nullification or impairment.

If the charged party fails to come into compliance with TPP, Article 28.19 specifies that the panel can levy fines.  Specifically:

If a monetary assessment is to be paid to the complaining Party, then it shall be paid in U.S. currency, or in an equivalent amount of the currency of the responding Party or in another currency agreed to by the disputing Parties in equal, quarterly installments[.]

Click here to read the entire commentary.


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Book Review: Peter Navarro, Crouching Tiger, What CHINA’S MILITARISM Means for the World,(Amherst, NY, Prometheus Books, 2015)  
Raymond Richman, 12/19/2015

Peter Navarro is a professor in the School of Business at the University of California. Irvine campus. He has written previous books about China including Death by China, Seeds of Destruction, Always a Winner, and The Coming China  Wars. In the prologue he writes the “each chapter that follows will provide and important clue presented in the form of a key question leading off each chapter. Each question will then be followed by possible answers across the range of opinion and thought”.

Ch 1.” Based on the historical record, how likely is war between a rising power like China and an established superpower like the United State?” As Thucydides wrote in his History of the Polynesian War, “What made the war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta.” The war destroyed both states. Citing the competition between England and  Germany for hegemony as the cause of WWI, he concludes that war between China and the U.S.A. is likely but not inevitable.

Ch. 2. Which countries have invaded China over the past two hundred years? France, Germany, Britain,. Japan, Russia, and the USA, an “indelible history of humiliation”. “China’s military buildup is not the end of our detective story—it is simply the beginning.”

Ch.3. “Is China building up its military to guard the trading routes and global investments it needs for robust economic growth.” China embarked on a mercantilist “state capitalism” strategy, encouraging exports and restricting imports. China’s huge oil imports and its exports move through the Malacca Strait.

Ch. 4. “Should China truly fear an oil embargo by the United States and its allies?” The U.S. did that to Japan and it led to our war with Japan. The USA also imposed an embargo on U.S. trade will China which lasted twenty years after China invaded Korea. And more recently, it imposed sanctions on Russia for its annexation of the Crimea. Similarly, China has to fear the closing of the Suez Canal to Chinese shipping. And the U.S. maintains dozens of naval and air bases in the countries surrounding China.

Ch. 5. “Will China become a 'revisionist' power or a 'status quo' power?”...


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How to make the presidential debates work better: make the clock a moderator (WAPO)
Jesse Richman, 12/16/2015

In my just-published piece "How to improve our presidential debates in one easy step: Make the clock a moderator" on the Washington Post website I begin:

At their best, debates serve democracy: They highlight candidates’ strengths and flaws and provide a forum for candidates to explain their positions or debunk the claims of others.  Unfortunately, in the minds of many Americans, debates fall short of these ideals.

Last night’s Republican debate was likely no exception, as it encountered many of the same problems as those of previous debates.  Candidates talked over each other and the moderators in pursuit of precious camera time.

So it’s time we gave debate rules and technology some closer thought. I propose creating a market or auction for debate time that makes the clock a moderator.

Here’s how it works. Each candidate will enter the debate with a known and finite amount of time to speak.  The choice of when to utilize that time to speak will be at the discretion of the candidate.  As a result, candidates will have an incentive to use their time more wisely, knowing that it could run out.

To read the rest, go to 


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Sessions slams talk of trade deal until after elections
Howard Richman, 12/16/2015

On December 10, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned President Obama that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) could be voted down if brought up before the elections. According to  The Hill:

President Obama is risking defeat of his signature trade deal if he tries to push for passage before a lame-duck session next year.

“It certainly shouldn’t come before the election," McConnell told The Washington Post in an interview

"I think the president would be making a big mistake to try to have that voted on during the election. There’s significant pushback all over the place," he said.

On December 11,  The Hill reported Senator Sessions response to McConnell:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Friday slammed suggestions that Congress wouldn't take up President Obama's signature trade deal before the 2016 elections, calling a lame-duck vote an attempt to sidestep voters. 

"It seems clear the goal of [Trans-Pacific Partnership] supporters is to hold the vote when the public will be least able to hold their representatives accountable, because the pact’s boosters know that it is deeply unpopular," Sessions said in a statement, adding that its not Congress's job to "help the president to bypass voters."

On December 12, I contributed my analysis in the American Thinker blog:

Senator McConnell and the rest of the Republican establishment in Washington have a huge problem. They have to sneak in their anti-American votes after elections, or they would get turned out of office. The donor class that they serve can't marshal votes, since most of their employees are foreigners who work in factories abroad.

Obama may or may not go along with McConnell's request to put off the TPP vote until after the election. An early vote on TPP would give him enough time to add the Paris climate agreement to TPP before he leaves office and would help him suppress Republican voter turnout.

The Obama administration has claimed that the Paris climate agreement does not require ratification by Congress since there are no enforcement mechanisms within that agreement. This is nonsense. The Paris  agreement requires that countries involved make commitments and strengthen those commitments periodically. They are never permitted to loosen those commitments. Whatever Obama promises will be binding on all future U.S. Presidents; any reduction to Obama's draconian CO2 cuts would violate the Paris agreement. 

If the Paris agreement were meant to be non-binding, it would have been called a "Declaration." It called itself an "Agreement," which means that it is one of the multilateral environmental agreements that is supposed to be added to TPP by the TPP Commission, according to the TPP agreement itself....


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Pat Buchanan: Will elites blow up the GDP?
Howard Richman, 12/15/2015

Pat Buchanan had a great commentary yesterday called Will Elites Blow Up the GOP? about the discussions within the Republican establishment about how they could deny the nomination to Donald Trump. Here's how Buchanan concludes:

What the Republican collectivity has to realize is that it is they and the policies they produced that are the reason Trump, Carson and Cruz currently hold an overwhelming majority of Republican votes.

It was the elites of both parties who failed to secure our borders and brokered the trade deals that have de-industrialized America and eviscerated our middle class....


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Pacific Trade Deal would Bind Congress -- an account of Jesse and my appearance on Laura Ingraham show yesterday at 10:30am
Howard Richman, 12/11/2015 includes a description of what Jesse and I said on the Laura Ingraham show yesterday. Here's how it begins:

As detrimental as the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership may be for American workers, what many might not realize is that it could get worse over time.

Jesse Richman, a political science professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, said Thursday on “The Laura Ingraham Show” that the 12-nation trade pact gives unelected international bureaucrats the ability to make changes to the trade rules.

“This is a living treaty in the sense that the commission for the TPP can modify it any way it chooses over time,” he said.

Jesse Richman and Howard Richman, the latter an economist with the Ideal Taxes Association, co-wrote the 2014 book, “Balanced Trade: Ending the Unbearable Costs of America’s Trade Deficits.” They have done something that few Americans have — they’ve read the 5,444-page trade deal. Congress must accept or reject that pact in whole and cannot make changes.

Howard Richman said the agreement goes far beyond other trade deals in giving foreign governments the right to sue one another over trade disputes, and it grants a commission authority to impose billions of dollars in fines.

“It’s unprecedented as far as we can tell,” he said. “Congress would be forced to do whatever (President) Obama agreed to do.”...


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Obama will use TPP to Enforce his Climate Agreement -- we're published in the American Thinker this morning
Howard Richman, 12/5/2015

We begin:

Little appreciated in the current debate on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the dramatic way the TPP will abrogate legislative authority permanently from the U.S. Congress to the president. TPP creates a commission with full power to amend the agreement, and an arbitration mechanism with the strength to enforce such amendments. The House and Senate gave up their rights to amend TPP, but they can still vote it down when it comes up for up-or-down votes in both chambers next year.

Although many people still labor under the delusion that TPP is a free trade agreement, the 5,544 page TPP regulates trade, the environment, immigration, patents, copyrights, and labor laws among the 12 countries that are participants and the additional countries that are expected to join. Consequently, in a post-TPP world, U.S. presidents could force almost any alteration in U.S. law simply by achieving support in the TPP commission for a U.S. specific modification to the TPP. Case in point today, Obama’s climate ambitions.

Environmentalists are not happy. Republicans are not happy. Only Obama seems happy. Why is he the only one happy with the climate change agreement that he is currently negotiating in Paris? Because that agreement, when combined with the already-negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), would complete his fundamental transformation of U.S. politics and the U.S. economy.

We don’t yet know the terms of the climate change agreement, but we do know that each country will be held to different carbon emission standards. President Obama released the likely U.S. and Chinese standards in a November 11, 2014, White House press release:

To read the rest, go to:



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Rick Manning: Obama's Paris Climate Treaty Spells Doom for TPP
Howard Richman, 12/1/2015

Writing for The Hill (Obama's Paris Climate Treaty Spells Doom for TPP), Rick Manning of Americans for Limited Government argued that Obama's Paris treaty spells doom for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

He begins by noting that Obama plans to enforce the climate treaty without bringing it before the Senate. He asks how Obama plans to accomplish this:

Why is the lame-duck Obama emboldened to flout the Constitution on this landmark treaty?

The answer lies in Congress's attempt to force the president to bring his Iran deal to the Senate for ratification. When Republicans decided to "assert their authority" by passing legislation requiring that Obama submit the nuclear deal to Congress in a form that could only be rejected if a two-thirds majority in both chambers were willing to override his veto, the seeds were sown for Obama's complete disregard for constitutional treaty powers.

His prediction of how things will play out is quite interesting:...


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TPP supporters planning to postpone vote
Howard Richman, 11/30/2015

According to DTN Washington Insider, supporters of TPP are planning to postpone the vote, which could have taken place as early as January. This could mean that TPP would go down to defeat if the vote were to be taken before the elections. Here's a selection:...


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Time to End the “Free Trade” Ideology and Substitute “Balanced Trade” Economics Instead
Raymond Richman, 11/23/2015

In his essayThe Consequences of Neglecting Manufacturing(4/20/15), Robert E. Scott of the Economics Policy Institute, compares trade in goods exports, goods imports, and the ratio of imports to exports for the United States and its top three international competitors, China, Germany, and Japan in the year. The smallness of the ratio of imports to exports, the more likely the country is restricting imports and subsidizing exports, a practice called mercantilism. He writes, “Overall, the United States had a trade deficit of $67.4 billion in [the] top 30 exporting industries. The top 30 exporting industries in those other countries had sizeable trade surpluses that ranged from $223.2 billion in Japan to $285.3 billion in Germany to $647.7 billion in China.” The trade deficits the U.S. has been experiencing for the past two decades has caused the displacement of millions of U.S. workers in manufacturing and has contributed to the weakness of the U.S. economy and caused the U.S. becoming the world’s leading debtor nation.

Here are the facts as Scott details them.

Without exception, the top 30 export industries in China, Japan, and Germany were all manufacturing industries. Six of the top 30 U.S. export industries were primary commodity exporters including grains, seeds, and nuts. This commodities sector was responsible for a trade surplus of $69.7 billion. The United States also had a trade surplus in aircraft and parts (two sectors) of $76.2 billion. However, these surpluses were more than offset by trade deficits in two other sectors, motor vehicles and parts, with a trade deficit of $117.2 billion, and electronics, with a trade deficit of $110.2 billion, both important U.S. manufacturing industries. ...


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What's actually in the Trans Pacific Partnership -- we were published today on the American Thinker website
Howard Richman, 11/20/2015

We began:

On November 5, the White House released the text of the 5,544 page Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that President Obama had just finished negotiating under the FastTrack authority that Congress gave him. That trade pact can no longer be amended. The up-or-down votes in the House and Senate will take place as early as January 2016.

So what’s in the TPP? Here’s a quick summary:

  1. A legislative body superior to Congress
  2. A vehicle to pass Obama’s climate change treaty
  3. Increased legal immigration
  4. Reduced patent protection for U.S. pharmaceuticals
  5. Quotas on U.S. agricultural exports
  6. Increased currency manipulation
  7. Reduced U.S. power

That’s the summary. Here are the details.

To read the rest, go to:



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Cracks in the Left-Right Political Alignment
Jesse Richman, 11/13/2015

The current political division is (roughly) between those who favor socially conservative and small government policies, and those who favor socially liberal and large government policies.  An alternative alignment would pit those who see globalization as a threat to be confronted through national solidarity, and those who see globalization as an opportunity for inter-cultural and inter-economic collaboration...


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A Summary of Modern Economic History
Howard Richman,

After Spain discovered the New World and started to ship lots of gold back from it, it became the most powerful country in the world. It could pay for new weapons with gold. It could pay for new ships with gold. It could outfit military expeditions with gold. So the other countries of Europe decided that they wanted to get Spain's gold and in the 16th and 17th centuries they invented mercantilism, the strategy of maximizing exports and minimizing imports in order to obtain Spanish gold....


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Trump on TPP: "'Why can't they just put it off until I become elected?' -- we're published in the American Thinker this morning
Howard Richman, 10/30/2015

We begin:

In his October 24 speech in Jacksonville, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump discussed the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the trade pact which President Obama just finished negotiating.  Trump asked a key question of the Republicans in Congress: “Why can’t they put it off until I become elected?”

If Congress votes it down this winter, then the next President will be able to renegotiate the deal with the same fast-track authority that Congress gave Obama. Trump says that if he renegotiates: “Believe me, it will not be that deal, believe me.”

Last June, the Republican Congress trusted President Obama’s negotiating skill so much that it gave up its power to amend any trade treaty that Obama or his successor negotiates. Maybe they were relying upon Obama’s outstanding success in past negotiations:

In order to read the rest, go to:


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Dick Morris calls for a redefinition of what is conservative trade policy
Howard Richman, 10/29/2015

In his October 28 commentary, Dick Morris called for a redefinition of the word "conservative" as far as trade policy is concerned. He wrote (Redefining the Right):

China and trade. The administration’s refusal to name China as a currency manipulator, as well as its demand for passage of trade agreements that do not circumscribe China in the least, has opened the door to the right. We must not let our commitment to free trade get in the way of a strong attitude toward China; Beijing’s currency manipulation is to blame for much of our loss of manufacturing jobs. By keeping the yuan about 30 percent below its reasonable value, China has, in effect, imposed a 30 percent tariff on American imports and given its own exports a 30 percent incentive. The way is open for the right to occupy this ground. Just as the left has used outsourcing as an issue, the right can cite currency manipulation as a top cause of unemployment....


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  • [An] extensive argument for balanced trade, and a program to achieve balanced trade is presented in Trading Away Our Future, by Raymond Richman, Howard Richman and Jesse Richman. “A minimum standard for ensuring that trade does benefit all is that trade should be relatively in balance.” [Balanced Trade entry]

    Journal of Economic Literature:

  • [Trading Away Our Future] Examines the costs and benefits of U.S. trade and tax policies. Discusses why trade deficits matter; root of the trade deficit; the “ostrich” and “eagles” attitudes; how to balance trade; taxation of capital gains; the real estate tax; the corporate income tax; solving the low savings problem; how to protect one’s assets; and a program for a strong America....

    Atlantic Economic Journal:

  • In Trading Away Our Future   Richman ... advocates the immediate adoption of a set of public policy proposal designed to reduce the trade deficit and increase domestic savings.... the set of public policy proposals is a wake-up call... [February 17, 2009 review by T.H. Cate]