And They Called It THE FART ACT
Jiminy Fucking Christmas, these people are stupid! Axios got hold of a draft law cooked up by the White House Brain Trust called The Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act (FART). (Yes, really.) And it reeks!
The plan is for Congress to grant Trump blanket authority to impose tariffs on individual countries at will. So if Chile pisses us off, we'll tax Chilean grapes. If Angela Merkel looks at Trump sideways, we'll slap tariffs on BMWs. And if Bangladesh wants to sell us cheap clothes, they need to cough up for some Chevy Tahoes OR ELSE. Because trade wars are "easy to win," so why not weaponize our tariff system to beat the shit out of smaller countries?
The problem with this plan is that it violates every trade agreement America ever signed. The US is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which bars countries from singling out one country for higher or lower tariffs than the others. We can enact multilateral agreements like NAFTA, where we agree to a system of tariffs across the continent, but we can't just decide we're going to whack Canada by taxing the shit out of their steel. Which is why the Trump administration has at least made half-hearted efforts to pretend that these latest steel tariffs are because of -- ahem, cough, eyeroll -- "national security."
Moreover, the WTO puts a ceiling on tariffs by product, and we agreed to abide by those rules. But Trump would like Congress to please sign this permission slip allowing him to ignore all our treaty obligations and hit countries with a 1000 percent tariff if they dare to piss us off. That way we can nominally remain in the WTO, receiving benefits when other countries follow the rules, while picking off member states and bullying them individually to buy shit from us. Cool, huh?
We're already trying to murder the WTO by blocking replacement of retiring trade judges. By next year, the WTO will lack a quorum and be unable to adjudicate trade disputes at all. Can't be found in violation of WTO rules if there's no policeman, right? And if we destabilize the international order and small countries get taken advantage of by their neighbors, well, not our problem. Because we are psychopathic assholes!
Sentient persons in the White House point out that the GOP is already getting hammered on steel tariffs, with GM and Toyota promising the cost of each car will go up by a thousand dollars. GOP senators are already making noises about curtailing the president's tariff powers. So how does the White House plan to get this POS bill through Congress? Never fear! That crank Peter Navarro, Trump's Director of the National Trade Council, has A PLAN.
In a White House meeting to discuss the bill earlier this year, Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short bluntly told Navarro the bill was "dead on arrival" and would receive zero support on Capitol Hill, according to sources familiar with the exchange.
Navarro replied to Short that he thought the bill would get plenty of support, particularly from Democrats, but Short told Navarro he didn't think Democrats were in much of a mood to hand over more authority to Trump.
That's right, they're going to pass it with Democratic support. Forget about the Pedophile Wrestling Coach Rule and the fact that the GOP controls both Houses of Congress. Democrats will be only too delighted to hand Trump a blank check to blow up international trade and destabilize the world economy right before the midterms. It's so obvious!
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.