Tariff like it's 1897, Trump's Great Economy, Maybe the Best Ever


I suppose that’s true, it just so BS, it gets everybody upset, pisses of the Canadians, and Mexicans, and saddles us with unpronounceable name, all for Trump’s absurd ego.


That’s how we MAGA baby! His base will eat it up.


Every time I see that acronym, I am going to think of the Fonz. “United States Marine Corps, Aaaaaaay!”


Could be worse, you could be thinking of the Village People singing it.



Yeah, it’s a weird one. On the one hand, it’s a pretty good deal, especially by Trump White House standards. The US got a bunch of (mostly fairly minor) concessions which are generally good in their own right, in return for basically nothing other than not abandoning NAFTA entirely, which would have been an own goal. In that sense, it’s an unequivocal win and at least on the face of it a vindication of his strategy. On the other hand, the deal is in the grand scheme of things functionally identical to NAFTA other than dairy, and yet he repeatedly called NAFTA the worst deal ever.


I think Trump’s main advantage in trade negotiations is that it is very easy to imagine him scoring this own goal. Just due to the size of the economies involved, ending free trade would be much more painful for Mexico and Canada than the US.


True enough. Trump walking away from NAFTA is a lot more credible as a threat than, say, a no-deal Brexit is for the UK.


(Joe Walsh, what a timeline.)


Except Trump can’t walk away from squat on his own. Everything has to go through Congress. Which is why what we got is mostly the same old same old but with “NAFTA” crossed out and “DONNIE’S AWSUM TRADE DEAL” penciled in. It’s all he can get past the legislative.

The real question is why, knowing this, Mexico and Canada pursued a deal when they probably could have stood pat. No doubt they reckoned that if they allowed Donnie to do his victory dance over minor tweaks, his attention would drift away from them to other countries and other things.

(Which is probably true, so far as it goes. The problem is that it doesn’t go very far. Donnie is so unfocused that next week he may have forgotten all about his “win” and decide to impose 200% tariffs on Canada because someone said Justin Trudeau is prettier than him.)


My understanding is that it’s not quite so simple. He can walk away, but Congress can force him to walk back, effectively. See here for instance;


Trump was free to impose steel and aluminium tariffs without Congress (on falsified national security grounds). I think his big stick in the negotiations was imposing similar tariffs on cars. That would be bad the the US but a far bigger problem for Canada and Mexico.


The sub-head is excellent summary of the WSJ editorial board view.

The new deal is worse than the status quo, but disaster was avoided.


I’d encourage any real lawyers to weigh in on this.

But my interpretation is that section 301 of the Trade act of 1974, which has been periodically extended many times,(last time on 3/18 for 5 years) authorizes the President or the US Trade Representative (USTR) to impose tariffs, or other measures on countries, which the USTR has determined are acting unfairly.

It seems to me that Congress could simply revoke the extension and Trump’s trade powers go away. I’m not sure if the President could veto the revoking or not.


Isn’t it the Trade Promotion Authority that is renewed? That is what empowers the USTR to sign trade agreements which congress can only vote up or down on (no amendments). USTR still exists without TPA but is much less effective.

Section 301, used against China currently, and Section 232, used or threatened on global steel and auto exporters, are separate executive powers from the TPA that require USTR research to implement. AFAIK, IANAL.


I think the whole 1975 trade agreement, which include the TPA and sections 301, and 232, gets renewed. But it is a long ass-bill and with 40 odd years of amendments, its beyond my comprehension skills and interest to try and figure it out. But you may be right.


To be clear, the 1974 Trade Act is a law passed by Congress, not a trade agreement with any other party.

I just reviewed and it looks like you’re right that the TPA, 301, and 232 were all created by under that law. But only the TPA needs to be renewed, and has been allowed to lapse occasionally.




Iowa’s GDP will be 20% federal welfare before this is all over.