Another Trump Fail

Trump Maladministration

Trump blew the Friday deadline for sending a revised “just don’t call it NAFTA” deal to Congress. As explained a few days ago, if Trump’s going to get a new NAFTA deal before the new Mexican president is inaugurated, he needed to get something to Congress to approve by yesterday. And he didn’t.

The sticking point appears to have been some Trump tough talk about Canada that leaked out. A “just don’t call it NAFTA” deal could still be salvaged if he can get the complete text of a final deal — not a preliminary one — to Congress by the end of September, this article says. But if he can’t get Canada on board he can kiss that off. It’s unlikely Congress would approve a “half NAFTA” deal, and the current president of Mexico has indicated he wants Canada in on the current deal.

Daniel Dale wrote for the Toronto Star:

Trump made his controversial statements in an Oval Office interview with Bloomberg News on Thursday. He said, “off the record,” that he is not making any compromises at all with Canada — and that he could not say this publicly because “it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal.”

“Here’s the problem. If I say no — the answer’s no. If I say no, then you’re going to put that and it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal … I can’t kill these people,” Trump said of the Canadian government.

In another remark he did not want published, Trump said that any deal with Canada would be “totally on our terms.” He suggested he was scaring the Canadians into submission by repeatedly threatening to impose tariffs on imports of Canadian-made cars.

“Off the record, Canada’s working their ass off. And every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala,” Trump said. The Impala is produced at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ont.

Bloomberg agreed to the off-the-record request. Nobody has said how the Toronto Star got the quote. But then the box of rocks for brains in the White House tweeted:

Pretty much confirming that, yeah, that’s what he said.

Trump wants to believe he doesn’t need Canada.

Days of high-stakes talks between Canada and the US have faltered, failing to yield a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) before a Friday deadline set out by Washington.

On Saturday morning, Donald Trump tweeted: “There is no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal. If we don’t make a fair deal for the U.S. after decades of abuse, Canada will be out. Congress should not interfere w/ these negotiations or I will simply terminate NAFTA entirely & we will be far better off.”

The next question is, can he do that? Unlike the Paris climate agreement, NAFTA is legislation passed by Congress. And for that reason, it appears Congress could block him.

Under NAFTA rules, Trump can unilaterally withdraw from the agreement by giving Mexico and Canada six months’ notice. But Congress also has a say, since it ratified and implemented the agreement through legislation. Congress can fight to keep that legislation — the rules governing the way that the US trades with Mexico and Canada under NAFTA — intact. It can also pass new laws designed to boost its own authority over trade agreements. It may even be able to pass a law that preemptively eliminates Trump’s ability to unilaterally give Canada and Mexico notice of withdrawal.

If Congress was able to pass any of these bills, Trump would be in a tough situation. He’d risk a rupture with huge swaths of the GOP if he vetoed the bill. And if they formed a veto-proof majority, he’d be neutered by his own party on one of his key policy priorities.

And Republicans don’t want NAFTA to end. They really, really don’t; their corporate backers and armies of lobbyists are striving mightily to keep NAFTA alive. Democrats are said to be more ambivalent (I question that), but even those who don’t love NAFTA don’t want it to end abruptly because of the chaos that would cause.

Seems to me Trump is setting himself up for a cascading and catatrophic fail. Without Canada, he’s probably screwed with the “just don’t call it NAFTA” project. Congress could very well decide not to approve a “half NAFTA.” Mexico might even decide to withdraw from the preliminary agreement without Canada, in which he wouldn’t even have a side deal. If he tries to withdraw unilaterally, Republicans in Congress are going to have to choose between the corporate donors/lobbyists and Trump.

I believe Trump would lose that one, although it’s hard to say. How much political capital does he have right now? The events surrounding John McCain’s death have highlighted how abnormal he is. Polls are not exactly doing in his direction. More bombshells from the investigations will go off. But enough congressional Republicans may want to hang in with him until after the midterms that they won’t want to cross him on this.

From my Facebook friend Jeff Tiedrich:

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. doug  •  Sep 1, 2018 @3:25 pm

    As Nazi Germany found out – you can build a machine that can beat anybody but that machine can't beat everybody, Show me the list of friends and allies Trump is building. He's got a 90% approval rating with GOP voters which doesn't count for sh@t internationally. 

    We're not feeling the effects – yet- of an international trade war. I think it's a delayed reaction thing. We haven't run out of stuff went in by China. The full effects of a Canada embargo haven't hit. Congress isn't setting up a welfare state for the victims of Trump's trade policy. Soybeans harvest season starts in late Sept. China is buying from Russia and the farmers will get killed. 

    Trump will (I think) shut down the government before the Nov elections if the GOP doesn't fund the wall. All of this will not make Trump any friends with voters or in Congress.

  2. Billikin  •  Sep 1, 2018 @3:39 pm

    FWIW, NAFTA is an agreement, not a treaty. It was passed by both houses of Congress, like regular legislation. Treaties are ratified by ⅔ of the Senate; the House has no say.

  3. maha  •  Sep 1, 2018 @3:54 pm

    Billikin — thank you for the correction.

  4. Bonnie  •  Sep 1, 2018 @4:39 pm

    Knowing the shallowness of trump, I believe his basic problem with Canada is that Justin Trudeau is too good looking and younger.  His ego just can't take even being in the same picture as Trudeau.  That is also his problem with Macron–he's too young and too handsome and French, too.  Someone needs to do a poll to see who is considered the best looking leader of the world.  I doubt if trump could beat Merkel.

  5. grannyeagle  •  Sep 1, 2018 @8:38 pm

    Bonnie:  You are so right.  Both Trudeau and Macron are very handsome and speak French which is such a romantic language.  OO-LA-LA  Trump is an ugly old man and what Swami calls him.

  6. Swami  •  Sep 2, 2018 @12:45 am

    grannyeagle.. Do you mean a big bag of shit? I know it's not exactly eloquent speech…but it does have a completeness in capturing the essence of spirit and the substance of character of what and who Trump really is. Not to mention his stunted intellect.

     

  7. csm  •  Sep 2, 2018 @11:11 am

    If that moron wanted to do a "just don't call it that" type of play, he should have done it with the ACA.  Just leave it intact, call it Trumpcare or some such flag waving ridiculous name the GOP seems expert in coming up with, take credit and call it a day.  Win-win for everybody.

    But no, this is the stable genius with the best words; the "Art of the Deal," who, like a smart person has a gut that tells him everything, of which no one can tell him anything.

    What an embarrassing f**k up; he's spent his entire privileged, pampered life being told how great he is by people paid to tell him that, by kids who know he's out to lunch but say otherwise for fear of losing the trust fund, and by integrity-challenged white house staff who lie to him daily that he's the greatest president that ever lived, knowing if they don't tell him that he'll fire them and no one else will hire them at the level he has because they are incompetent.  But they are "the best people."

    Its truly mind-boggling that we've gone from Obama to Trump.  What have we gotten ourselves into?  

  8. grannyeagle  •  Sep 2, 2018 @1:17 pm

    Yes, Swami, that's exactly what I mean.  I am reminded of a patient I had when I worked as a psych nurse.  She told me of a really obese person which she didn't like and she had a dream  in which this person got on an elevator alone and when the elevator door opened up, there was just a big blob of grease.  So, imagine Trump getting on an elevator and what you would see (and smell) when the door opened.  He is truly rotten inside.  That's why someone said everything Trump touches dies. 

     

  9. paradoctor  •  Sep 2, 2018 @11:32 pm

    He had a "powerful understanding" with Bloomberg? He did not understand, and he had no power.