After scathing op-ed, Trump defends leadership by taking credit for Obama’s economic policies

After the publication of a scathingly critical essay purportedly from an anonymous senior administration official, President Donald Trump used a series of morning tweets to defend his leadership, citing strong economic data and praise from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted. “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

The New York Times published an op-ed Wednesday that it said was from a senior official who described the president as erratic and amoral and said staff worked to thwart “misguided” decisions they feared would be detrimental to the country.

In the hours after the Times posted the story Wednesday afternoon, an angry Trump criticized the newspaper for not identifying the author. He demanded that the Times out him or her and suggested that the person should be investigated.

In a third post, Trump returned to the economy, proclaiming “consumer confidence highest in 18 years, Atlanta Fed forecasts 4.7 GDP, manufacturing jobs highest in many years.”

[USA Today]

Trump celebrates as youth unemployment hits half-century low

President Trump on Friday celebrated summer youth unemployment reaching the lowest rate since 1966.

“Just announced, youth unemployment is at a 50 year low!” Trump tweeted Friday morning.

The Bureau of Labor statistics reported Thursday that the youth unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in July 2018. The number signified the lowest summer youth unemployment rate since 1966.

The youth labor force consists of 16 to 24-year-old who are seeking work. The youth workforce swells each summer as high school and college students seek summer jobs, and new college graduates pursue permanent employment.

[Washington Examiner]

Reality

But the labor-force participation rate stands at 60.6 percent, far below its peak of 77.5 percent in July 1989, the BLS added. This rate illustrates the share of 16 to 24 year olds who are working or looking and available for work.

For 16-to-19 year-olds in particular, participation is at a record low. Just 35 percent of that age group is looking for work or working—the lowest figure since record-keeping started in 1948.

Sanders cites inaccurate numbers to claim Trump has created more jobs for African-Americans than Obama

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday cited inaccurate data that she claimed showed President Trump has created hundreds of thousands of more jobs for African-American workers than former President Obama did in his entire term.

Sanders drastically deflated the number of jobs Obama created for African-Americans as part of a broader response to questions about whether Trump had ever used the “N-word.”

Asked if she could guarantee Americans will “never hear” Trump say the racial slur on a recording, Sanders said she “can’t guarantee anything” before highlighting economic gains made under Trump.

“This is a president who is fighting for all Americans, who is putting policies that help all Americans, particularly African-Americans,” Sanders said. “Just look at the economy alone.”

She claimed that the economy has added 700,000 new jobs for African-Americans in Trump’s first 18 months in office, which is accurate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Sanders then said Obama only oversaw the creation of 195,000 jobs for African-Americans during his eight years in office.

The latter number is far from accurate. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the economy added roughly 3 million jobs for African-Americans during Obama’s time in office.

Sanders did not immediately respond to questions from The Hill about the inaccurate information, or whether she meant to cite a different timeframe.

Bloomberg first reported on Sanders’s exaggerated answer from the podium.

Tuesday’s press briefing was largely dominated by questions about Trump’s rhetoric toward African-Americans, and particularly toward former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman.

Manigault Newman’s new book, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” alleges Trump is a racist and a misogynist. She claims there are tapes of Trump using the “N-word” on the set of “The Apprentice.”

Trump has denied such tapes exist and tweeted Monday night that the racial slur has never been part of his vocabulary. He went on to attack Manigault Newman, who was once the highest ranking black official in his White House, as a “dog,” a “lowlife” and “wacky and deranged.”

[The Hill]

Media

Trump encourages boycott against Harley-Davidson

President Donald Trump said it’s “great” that consumers might boycott Harley-Davidson if it moves some motorcycle production overseas.

The President tweeted about the potential boycott on Sunday

“Many @harleydavidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas. Great!” Trump wrote. “Most other companies are coming in our direction, including Harley competitors. A really bad move! U.S. will soon have a level playing field, or better.”

Harley-Davidson did not respond to request for comment on Sunday.

Trump’s remark came after the President hosted “Bikers for Trump” supporters at his golf club in Bedminister, New Jersey, over the weekend.Dozens of bikers descended on the posh club house, where Trump shook hands, posed for selfies and delivered an enemy-bashing speech to a cheering crowd, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Tensions between the administration and Harley-Davidson have brewed for months.

It started when Trump imposed hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports earlier this year in an effort to bolster domestic manufacturing. The European Union responded by pledging to raise tariffs on a list of goods that are imported from the United States, including Harley motorcycles.

American demand for motorcycles has waned while foreign interest has grown. So, that wasn’t good news for the Wisconsin-based bike manufacturer.
Harley said it stands to lose as much as $100 million a year, and the company pledged to shift some of its production abroad so that it could avoid the added tariffs on motorcycles sold in the EU.

Trump accused Harley of using the European retaliatory tariffs as “an excuse” for moving manufacturing abroad. Trump, echoing a top union for Harley workers, claimed the company planned to shift some operations to Thailand before the tariffs were announced.

Harley acknowledged it already had been moving some production abroad, but said moving more production overseas was the “only sustainable option” in the face of a trade war.

The President also said last month his administration was “working with other Motor Cycle companies who want to move into the U.S.”

[CNN]

Trump keeps bragging about 7 new U.S. Steel plants. There’s just one problem.

During his speech Thursday night in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, President Trump touted seven new steel plants he claimed U.S. Steel is opening.

If true, Trump’s claim would be huge news, as according to PolitiFact, U.S. Steel only operates four steelmaking plants in the entire country at present. The development would represent a benefit of the steel and aluminum tariffs Trump imposed that launched a trade war and have sparked concerns about inflation.

“I’ll tell you what I’m really proud of now. About five months ago — it took a while to get all the statutory approvals — we’re putting our steel workers back to work at clips that nobody could believe,” Trump said on Thursday. “U.S. Steel is opening up seven plants.”

It wasn’t the first time Trump touted new steel plants. During a speech on Tuesday, Trump bizarrely said that “U.S. Steel just announced that they are building six new steel mills. And that number is soon going to be lifted, but I’m not allowed to say that, so I won’t.”

The number varies from speech to speech. On July 27, Trump claimed U.S. Steel was going to open seven plants. Twice in June, he hyped six new ones.

But there’s a major problem — Trump’s claim is a fabrication. U.S. Steel is not “opening up seven plants.” In fact, the company hasn’t publicly announced it is opening any new plants at all.

Following Trump’s speech in Pennsylvania, U.S. Steel provided CNN with a statement saying the openings of new plants “would be publicly announced if they happen.”

That accords with what the company told PolitiFact.

“All of our operational changes have been publicly announced and all information shared with the federal government has been properly disclosed and made available on our website,” a spokesman for the company said.

Trump is in the habit of making stuff up to make himself look good.

[Think Progress]

Media

No, U.S. Steel is not opening six new mills as Donald Trump said

President Donald Trump has boasted about big growth in the steel industry at campaign-style rallies this summer.

“U.S. Steel just announced that they are building six new steel mills,” Trump said July 31 in Tampa. “And that number is soon going to be lifted, but I’m not allowed to say that, so I won’t.”

Trump repeated the company would open six major facilities at a roundtable in Minnesota on June 20 and again at a lunch with members of Congress on June 26.

That was one mill down from when he said the company was going to open seven on July 27.

That would be huge news, given the company only has four steelmaking facilities in the United States. But there’s no evidence on their website that any new mills are on the horizon.

Meghan Cox, a spokeswoman for U.S. Steel, told us that Trump wasn’t privy to any exclusive information.

“All of our operational changes have been publicly announced and all information shared with the federal government has been properly disclosed and made available on our website,” Cox said.

(The White House did not respond to our request for comment.)

Cox pointed to several projects U.S. Steel announced this year. That includes plans to invest $275 million to $325 million in capital projects, announced in February; to construct a new steel-coating line to help PRO-TEC, a subsidiary, make cars in Leipsic, Ohio; and to restart two blast furnaces that will create 800 new jobs at an integrated steel-making plant in Granite City. The company idled those furnaces in 2015, laying off about 2,000 workers.

Mills are complex operations, so we asked William Reinsch, a trade expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, whether a single plant might be easily mistaken for multiple plants.

[Politifact]

Trump: I’ve accomplished more in my first 500 days than any other president

President Trump on Monday touted his first 500 days in the White House, saying “many believe” he has achieved more than any of his predecessors in that same time frame.

“This is my 500th. Day in Office and we have accomplished a lot – many believe more than any President in his first 500 days,” the president wrote on Twitter.

Trump pointed to the GOP tax cuts, “lower crime,” passing the “right to try” bill, his confirmed judicial appointments and his immigration policy as accomplishments.

“Massive Tax & Regulation Cuts, Military & Vets, Lower Crime & Illegal Immigration, Stronger Borders, Judgeships, Best Economy & Jobs EVER, and much more,” he added.

[The Hill]

Reality

Not really.

Trump made a series of claims about his first 500 days in office, celebrating his economic policies, touting his success in adding jobs, and claiming to have made communities safer.

‘America’s economy is stronger … thanks to President Trump’s pro-growth agenda’

CLAIM “Three million jobs have been created since Trump took office,” booms Trump’s news release. He made the same claim at a rally in April.

REALITY What Trump does not tell people is that the rate of job creation under him is actually slower than the last four years under Obama. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.188m jobs were added in 2017. Obama added 2.3m in 2013, 2.99m in 2014, 2.71m in 2015, and 2.24m in 2016.

Trump claimed that the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.8%. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics did indeed report the unemployment rate for May was 3.8%.

But what Trump ignores is that the unemployment rate is declining in part because of large numbers of people leaving the workforce rather than getting jobs. The percentage of workers in jobs or looking for work dropped from 62.9% in March, to 62.8% in April to 62.7% in May. Those levels have not been seen since the 1970s.

CLAIM “American families received $3.2tn in gross tax cuts.”

REALITY Trump has been making this claim since 2017, when he signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law. In fact, the bill delivers $1.5tn in tax cuts – and that number includes cuts that corporations will receive.

The disparity is because Trump does not include aspects of the bill which will actually increase taxes. Factcheck.org pointed out that the non-partisan joint committee on taxation estimates the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will result in $1.456tn less in taxes over the next 10 years.

Some of that comes from the corporate income tax rate being cut from 35% to 21%, while the tax rate for wealthy individuals has been cut from 39.6% to 37%. The tax cut for corporations is permanent; the tax cuts for individuals will expire in 2026.

The bill is projected to add $1.46tn to the nation’s debt over the next decade. And the Washington thinktank the Center for American progress predictsthat Trump will save $11m to $15m a year under the tax bill, while Jared Kushner will save between $5m and $12m per year.

CLAIM “President Trump has rolled back unnecessary job-killing regulations such as the Clean Power Plan.”

REALITY Trump hails the government’s October 2017 decision to scrap the Clean Power Plan, which was introduced by Obama and was designed to cut US carbon dioxide emissions by 32% by 2030.

The Environmental Protection Agency had previously estimated the plan would prevent 90,000 child asthma attacks and 3,600 premature deaths a year by 2030.

While Trump claims the Clean Power Plan has already been rolled back, as of May 2018 the EPA was yet to finalize its repeal, and 19 states are challengingthe government’s move to scrap the plan – giving hope that Trump and Pruitt could be thwarted, or at least delayed.

‘America is winning on the world stage’

CLAIM “The president has taken action to confront aggression by Iran and its proxies.”

REALITY Trump has withdrawn from the landmark international deal on Tehran’s nuclear programme. In doing so he drew condemnation from the leaders of the UK, Germany and France, who made clear that Iran was abiding by the terms of the agreement.

‘America’s government is more accountable’

CLAIM “President Trump has confirmed the most circuit court judges of any president in their first year.”

REALITY Unfortunately for those not aligned with the president’s political views, this is correct. Republicans have rushed through the appointment of 21 such judges, and Trump plans to add 20 more by the end of 2018.

Most of those appointments are white men, and almost one-third have anti-LGBT records. The majority of Trump’s appointments are under 50 – meaning they could influence decision-making in the US for decades to come.

‘America’s communities are safer and more secure’

CLAIM Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Ice – has “made 110,568 arrests of illegal aliens – a 42% increase for the same timeframe in 2016”.

REALITY There is no mention of the disruption this has had on communities across the country – and on the terrible toll Trump’s actions have had on families.

Between 6 and 19 May, 658 children were taken away from their parents at the border, after the Trump administration announced that parents detained while entering the US without documentation would be separated from their children and prosecuted.

Trump imposes steel, aluminum tariffs on U.S. allies and Europe retaliates

President Trump followed through on a threat to impose steep metal tariffs on U.S. allies Thursday, a long-awaited decision that analysts said moved the country closer to a trade war.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that Canada, Mexico and the European Union would be subject to a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum beginning at midnight on Thursday. Brazil, Argentina and Australia agreed to limit steel exports to the U.S. to avoid tariffs, he said.

“The president’s overwhelming objective is to reduce our trade deficit,” Ross said.

The decision was the latest by the Trump administration to project a more protectionist stance amid ongoing trade negotiations with China and other countries. But it drew a sharp rebuke and promises of retaliation from longstanding allies.

“These tariffs are totally unacceptable,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday. “These tariffs are an affront to the long-standing security partnership between Canada and the United States.”

European trade officials have previously threatened to respond to Trump’s move with  duties on U.S.-made motorcycles, orange juice and bourbon, among other things. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, reiterated that position Thursday, saying Europe would impose duties on “a number of imports from the U.S.”

“This is protectionism, pure and simple,” he said.

The Mexican economic ministry said it would move to place tariffs on U.S.-made pork, flat steel, apples, cheese and other products.

Trump announced the tariff and aluminum tariffs in early March but offered temporary exemptions to the European Union, Canada, Mexico and a number of other allies. He extended those exemptions in late April, noting at the time it would be the “final” delay unless the countries agreed to other concessions.

“We are awaiting their reaction,” Ross said of the other countries. “We continue to remain quite willing, indeed eager, to continue discussions.”

The move promoted criticism from a number of Republicans on Capitol Hill, especially those with large agricultural industries.

“This is dumb,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. “Europe, Canada and Mexico are not China, and you don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents.”

The decision comes days after the Trump administration announced $50 billion of new tariffs on Chinese imports, after officials had earlier said it was “putting the trade war on hold” with Beijing. Ross is set to travel to China this weekend to continue trade talks.

The Trump administration has relied on a 1962 law that allows countries to impose trade restrictions for national security purposes. The president has also justified the tariffs by pointing out “shuttered plants and mills” and the decades-long slide of manufacturing.

Several analysts said they are concerned the approach will have the opposite effect.

“The initial blows in the trade wars have finally landed,” said Eswar S. Prasad, former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division and a professor at Cornell University. “It is now clear that Trump’s threats about trade sanctions are more than just bluster and are to be taken seriously.”

Prasad said the hard line approach might net Trump some short-term wins, but said “it could eventually result in the U.S. playing a diminished” role in global trade.

“He doesn’t have a strategy that’s going to lead to making American manufacturing great again,” said Robert Scott, a trade expert at the Economic Policy Institute. “There will continue to be a series of tit-for-tat battles.”

The U.S. imported 34.6 million metric tons of steel last year, a 15% increase from 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Canada was the top source of U.S. imported steel, accounting for 77%, according to the International Trade Administration. Mexican steel accounts for about 9% of U.S. imports.

The majority of that metal is used in construction, auto manufacturing and appliances.

The tariffs, as well as export controls agreed to by Brazil and others, will raise the price of steel and aluminum in the U.S., making domestic producers more competitive while adding to the price buyers of the metals must pay.

“We think that’s going to put the industry in real peril,” said Jerry Howard, president of the National Association of Home Builders. “We were very excited by the tax bill, but it turns out the tax bill giveth, and tariffs taketh away.”

Ann Wilson with the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association said its members are already paying tariffs on many of the components they import to make auto parts. Imposing additional barriers on the metals used to make those parts, she said, amounts to a “double tariff.”

“There is little doubt that the uncertainty and added costs the administration is creating will put U.S. investments and jobs at risk,” Wilson said.

Steel trade with Canada and Mexico is covered under the North American Free Trade Agreement, but the president is relying on a provision of U.S. law that allows him to claim the imports represent a threat to national security.

Many observers believe the announcement Thursday is the latest effort to prod stalled negotiations over rewriting NAFTA, which Trump repeatedly promised to do during his campaign for president.

“This really is an attempt to strengthen the negotiating power of the U.S. when it comes to renegotiating NAFTA,” said Ned Hill, who teaches economic development at Ohio State University. “This is just very public, bare-knuckle negotiating.”

[USA Today]

Reality

Trump promised he would go after countries who “cheated” in trade, but we do not have a major trade imbalance with our friends and allies.

Trump breaks the law and jolts markets by teasing secret jobs numbers

President Donald Trump moved markets and busted norms on Friday morning with a tweet about the May employment report more than an hour before the numbers came out.

The post appeared to skirt strict rules on government employees not commenting on the highly sensitive economic data until an hour after its public release at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.

Trump, who received the numbers Thursday night on Air Force One, did not include any of the jobs data in his tweet. But it appeared positive enough to suggest to Wall Street that a good number was coming Friday morning.

“Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning,” the president tweeted at 7:21 a.m.

And the numbers were in fact quite good, showing a better than expected gain of 223,000 jobs and a dip in unemployment to 3.8 percent, the lowest level since April of 2000, sending Dow futures higher.

But markets were already moving before the release and popped immediately after Trump’s tweet, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note moving higher along with stock market futures. The rise in the 10-year yield suggested traders assumed Trump’s tweet meant the jobs number would be strong and push the Fed to raise interest rates more quickly.

Former Obama administration officials pounced on Trump’s tweet even before the public got to see the numbers, saying it violated rules banning federal employees with access to the jobs data from saying anything at all about it until 9:30 a.m. Eastern time.

The one-hour lag is meant to allow the jobs data—compiled by non-partisan career employees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics—to stand on its own without any immediate spin from elected officials.

“We took the one-hour delay 100 percent seriously,” Jason Furman, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, said in an interview. “There were times when there was a good number and they wanted to send the president out to talk about it, but Air Force One was scheduled to leave at 9:15 a.m. and we would tell them to delay the flight until after 9:30 a.m.”

Furman suggested Trump should no longer get the numbers in advance.

[Politico]

Trump wants a total ban on German luxury car imports

US President Donald Trump wants to escalate his trade war to include a total ban on German luxury cars, says a report in WirtschaftsWoche. According to the German publication, which says its report results from talking to several unnamed US and European diplomats, during French President Macron’s recent visit to Washington Trump told him that he would “maintain his trade policy until no Mercedes models rolled on Fifth Avenue in New York.”

This news follows news last week that Trump had already asked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to launch an investigation into the national security threat posed by imported cars, trucks, and auto parts, as well as wanting to add 25 percent tariffs on imported vehicles. WirtschaftsWoche‘s article points out that just prior to his inauguration in 2017, Trump railed against the Mercedes-Benz vehicles he saw in New York.

When you walk down Fifth Avenue, everyone has a Mercedes-Benz in front of their house.” But that’s not reciprocity. “How many Chevrolets do you see in Germany? Not too many, maybe none at all, you do not see anything over there, it’s a one-way street,” said the real estate billionaire. Although he is for free trade, but not at any price: “I love free trade, but it must be a smart trade, so I call him fair.

The US market is extremely important for luxury German automakers, and a ban on importing new vehicles would be devastating for brands like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. But even if Trump gets his wish, an import ban is highly unlikely to have the effect he’s looking for. Both BMW and Mercedes-Benz maintain large manufacturing presences here in the US, in part because any vehicles they build and sell here are exempt from existing import tariffs.

BMW’s factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, employs over 10,000 workers and produced more than 371,000 cars in 2017. The Mercedes-Benz factory in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, builds a similar number of vehicles, and just last year parent company Daimler invested $1.3 billion expanding the facility. Daimler also has a new factory in Charleston, South Carolina building Sprinter vans.

Daimler declined to comment on the proposed ban, but a spokesperson pointed out that the company supports more than 150,000 jobs here, and 22.8 percent of Daimler’s shareholders are from the US. Audi and BMW had not responded to a request for comment by the time of publication.

[Ars Techina]

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