Trump threatens Harley-Davidson: If it moves operations overseas, ‘they will be taxed like never before!’

President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday that Harley-Davidsonwill be “taxed like never before” if the motorcycle maker moves production overseas. He claimed that the iconic U.S. company was using increased trade tensions as an excuse to justify planned changes in manufacturing.

“A Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country-never! Their employees and customers are already very angry at them. If they move, watch, it will be the beginning of the end – they surrendered, they quit! The Aura will be gone and they will be taxed like never before!” Trump said in a tweet.

Harley said Monday it was moving some production overseas due to increased costs from the EU’s retaliatory tariffs against the Trump administration’s duties on steel and aluminum. No production will be moving to Europe as a result of the tariffs, according to the company. Harley’s overseas manufacturing plants are in Brazil, India, Australia and Thailand.

[CNBC]

Kudlow: ‘Don’t blame Trump’ for the trade conflicts he created

Top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow contended Wednesday that President Donald Trump should not be held responsible for mounting trade conflicts with American allies, as the president gets set to face world leaders angered by tariffs imposed by the U.S.

“Don’t blame Trump. Blame the nations that have broken away” from fair trade practices, he told reporters. The global trade system “is broken and President Trump is trying to fix it. And that’s the key point,” Kudlow added.

The National Economic Council director downplayed concerns about tensions with key American allies ahead of Trump’s trip to Canada at the end of the week for a summit with leaders of the Group of 7 economies. Trump recently imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from countries including the other six members — Canada, FranceGermanyItalyJapan and the United Kingdom — prompting retaliatory measures against the U.S.

The developments have prompted concerns about a trade war that could damage the U.S. economy or cause frayed relations with allies. The tariffs have sparked backlash not only abroad but at home, where Trump is trying to stop an effort from free trade Republicans to push back against the measures. Both U.S. lawmakers and foreign officials have questioned Trump’s national security justification for imposing the tariffs.

Ahead of Trump’s G-7 meetings, Kudlow, a former CNBC senior contributor, downplayed the prospect of a “trade war” with allies — calling the tensions “disputes that need to be solved.” He said he hopes the summit, where Trump will have bilateral talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron, will lead to substantive discussions on trade.

Last week, the Trump administration said it would not exempt Canada, Mexico and the European Union from tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The decision came as the U.S., Canada and Mexico have faltered in efforts to strike a revised North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump has long pledged to crack down on what he calls unfair trade practices and bad trade deals. He contends foreign countries had punished U.S. companies and stolen jobs away from American workers — one component of the appeal that carried him to the White House. Ultimately, he wants to increase U.S. exports and reduce trade deficits.

While numerous Republicans who support Trump — and Democrats who typically do not — have backed tough responses to alleged trade abuses by China, the tariffs on the key American allies brought the harshest response yet to Trump’s trade actions both domestically and abroad. Trudeau reportedly said he wanted to have “frank” talks with Trump during the G-7 meetings.

Asked whether Trump had damaged relations with Canada, Kudlow answered that he was not worried about temporary tensions.

“I have no doubt the United States and Canada will remain firm friends and allies,” Kudlow said.

The White House economic advisor also denied reports that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pushed for a tariff exemption for Canada during a meeting this week. Kudlow said both he and the Treasury secretary attended the meeting and did not say a word.

The U.S. has also sought help from allies as it tries to reach a deal to reduce trade deficits with China and stop alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property by Chinese companies. The U.S. has reached neither a broad deal with China to avoid potentially damaging tariffs, nor an agreement to revive Chinese telecommunications company ZTE, according to Kudlow.

He said he believes the rest of the world agrees with Trump about Chinese trade practices.

[CNBC]

Trump’s phone call with Macron described as ‘terrible’

A call about trade and migration between US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron soured last week after Macron candidly criticized Trump’s policies, two sources familiar with the call told CNN.

“Just bad. It was terrible,” one source told CNN. “Macron thought he would be able to speak his mind, based on the relationship. But Trump can’t handle being criticized like that.”

A short White House readout of last Thursday’s call said the conversation was focused on trade and immigration.

“Both leaders discussed the migration problem in Libya, and timelines to solve it. President Trump underscored the need to rebalance trade with Europe,” the readout states.

The call came the same day the United States announced a unilateral decision to slap steel and aluminum tariffs on American allies, including Mexico, Canada, and the European Union.

In a statement issued by the Elysee Palace ahead of the call, Macron said he “regrets the US decision to confirm tariffs in steel and aluminum.”

“This decision is not only illegal, it is a mistake on many points. It is a mistake because it responds to a worldwide unbalance that exists in the worst ways through fragmentations and economic nationalism,” the statement continued, with Macron adding that “if these kind of things impacted our relations, it would have been the case since day one because he has decided to leave the Paris (climate) agreement.”

“I prefer to say things directly and not through the press; and I will tell him what I told you, which are my convictions that he knows already,” he said in the statement.

Thursday’s strained call is particularly notable because Macron is arguably the European leader to whom Trump is closest. In an interview with the BBC in January, Macron said he had a “very direct relationship” with his US counterpart.

“I’m always extremely direct and frank. He is. Sometimes I manage to convince him, and sometimes I fail,” Macron said at the time.

Trump can expect a similar call from British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday, sources tell CNN. It’s not her style to be combative, but one source said May is expected to be direct in her criticisms and that Trump could expect a tough conversation.

[CNN]

Fact-checking Trump’s Nashville speech

The good news about President Donald Trump’s speech in Nashville last night was that he didn’t mention Roseanne Barr, which could have made that controversy much, much worse. The bad news? Try all of the false, misleading and dishonest claims he made.

“[There’s] never been an administration — and even some of our enemies are admitting it — that has done what we’ve done in the first year and a half. Think of it”

The tax law has been Trump’s only major legislative achievement, and he ranks behind other past presidents in bills signed into law.

“We’ve created 3.3 million new jobs since Election Day. If we would have said that before the election — I’m going to create 3.3 million new jobs — would never have [survived the] onslaught from fake news. Wouldn’t have accepted it, said no way you can do that”

While there have indeed been 3.3 million jobs created in the 18 months since Election Day 2016 (Nov. 2016-April 2018), there were 3.9 million jobs created in the 18 months before Election Day (May 2015-Oct. 2016) — when Trump was criticizing the state of the U.S. economy.

“Wages for the first time in many years are finally going up”

That is false; wages also increased during the final years of Obama’s presidency, per PolitiFact.

“[Nancy Pelosi] loves MS-13”

Pelosi was objecting to Trump calling undocumented immigrants “animals”; the White House says he was referring to MS-13 in his “animals” remarks. Pelosi never said she loved MS-13.

“So how do you like the fact they had people infiltrating our campaign? Can you imagine? Can you imagine?”

On Fox News last night, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said the FBI’s use of an informant for the 2016 Trump campaign was appropriate (see below for more).

“Mexico, I don’t want to cause a problem. But in the end, Mexico’s going to pay for the wall”

Mexico once again said it wasn’t paying for Trump’s wall. Here’s Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto: “President @realDonaldTrump: NO. Mexico will NEVER pay for a wall. Not now, not ever. Sincerely, Mexico (all of us).”

“We passed largest tax cuts and reform in American history”

By either inflation-adjusted dollars or as a percentage of GDP, the tax legislation Trump signed into law last year ranks well below other tax laws, including those under Reagan or even Obama.

For an even more thorough account on Trump’s claims from last night, check out the feed from the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale.

[NBC News]

Media

Ivanka Trump’s clothing company will be spared from tariffs, thanks to her dad

The steel and aluminum industries in China will soon be slapped with tariffs up to $50 billion by President Donald Trump. On Thursday, after China announced their intentions to retaliate against the United States with $50 billion in tariffs of their own against U.S. goods, Trump warned that his administration would respond with another set of tariffs, this time targeting $100 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Exempt from the proposed tariffs against China, however, is the clothing manufacturing industry.

U.S. officials say they used an algorithm to determine which goods to exclude from new tariffs. According to the Washington Post, the list was drafted to achieve “the lowest consumer impact,” ensuring goods like clothing and toys were excluded so as not to raise the cost on domestic consumer goods.

Exempting clothing from the tariffs provides a big break to American clothing companies that hold trademarks in China. One of those clothing companies belongs to the First Daughter of the United States, Ivanka Trump.

A recent report by the Huffington Post found that the president’s daughter and closest adviser rakes in a total of $1.5 million a year from the Trump Organization while still working at the White House.

Her dual role as adviser to the president and private business executive has continuously raised ethical red flags. No one can be entirely sure that public policy by this administration isn’t being driven by business motives, or whether countries may pursue business deals with the Trump family as a means to curry political favor with the administration.

The clearest example of this ethical line-blurring comes from early in the Trump presidency, when Ivanka dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Trump family’s resort in West Palm Beach on the same day China approved three new trademarks for Ivanka’s company.

[ThinkProgress]

Trump renews call for internet tax, making a veiled threat against Amazon

President Donald Trump repeated an earlier call for an internet tax, in a thinly veiled shot at Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post.

“The internet — they’re going to have to start paying sales tax because it’s very unfair what’s happening to our retailers all over the country that are put out of business,” Trump said Wednesday.

Trump also reiterated concerns about Amazon’s effect on the U.S. Postal Service as it struggles to keep up with online orders.

The comments mirror tweets from the president in December that named the e-commerce giant.

“There’s always been a fear for players like an Amazon or a Google that something like this could actually get through,” Daniel Ives, head of technology research at GBH Insights, told CNBC. “We believe it’s more noise than a real threat.”

There’s been speculation that the president’s shots at Amazon are aimed at Bezos, whose newspaper has published stories critical of the president.

Amazon already collects sales tax on products it sells directly to consumers, but has faced challenges from states over its policy of allowing third-party vendors to charge varying levels of sales tax.

In June South Carolina filed a complaint against the online retailer, and Amazon agreed in November to take on additional third-party tax burden in its home state of Washington.
The issue has garnered more attention as Amazon continues to take a bigger share of overall retail sales. Amazon celebrated its “biggest holiday” shopping season at the end of last year.

There is an underlying movement among traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to more heavily tax Amazon, Ives said, so the discussion is “something you have to keep an eye on.”

But the likelihood that an internet tax would pass is small, he said.
“Listen they’ve [Amazon] significantly changed the retail landscape across the world,” Ives said. “I think it’s more of the same where they’re getting in the crosshairs.”
Trump spoke before media and members of the administration Wednesday evening during the signing of the Interdict Act, which seeks to reduce drug smuggling through the purchase of opioid sensors.
Amazon did not immediately return a CNBC request for comment.

[CNBC]

Trump Falsely Claims GOP Tax Bill ‘Repealed Obamacare’

The Republican tax-overhaul bill may have only ended the individual mandate aspect of Obamacare, but that won’t stop President Trump from gloating to his base that he “repealed” his predecessor’s signature legislation. “When the individual mandate is being repealed, that means Obamacare is being repealed,” the president told the press during a cabinet meeting. “Obamacare has been repealed in this bill.”

Contrary to his claim, however, the Affordable Care Act is still largely intact—from its Medicaid expansion to the insurance exchanges it set up to regulations on insurance companies, including those mandating coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Media

White House defends Trump claim tax plan will cost him ‘a fortune’

The White House defended President Trump’s assertion that the forthcoming tax reform bill will cost him a “fortune,” while admitting he could benefit from cuts to corporate taxes.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to repeated questions from reporters during Tuesday’s briefing about Trump’s assertion, which he made during a Nov. 29 speech in Missouri.

Sanders defended the president by arguing that he hasn’t been focused on himself, but instead on the impact the bill would have on everyday Americans.

“In some ways, particularly on the personal side, the president will likely take a big hit. But on the business side, he could benefit,” she said.

“The biggest focus for this White House is to makes sure all Americans are better off today when this tax package passes than they were before hand. We really focused on invigorating the middle class and making sure they get more of their hard-earned money.”

Multiple independent analyses show that Trump, whose net worth is pegged by Forbes at $3.1 billion, stands to benefit from GOP tax plan.

When reporters noted that the overall impact on Trump’s bottom line is unclear because he has not released his tax returns, Sanders said that Trump will not release his tax returns while they are under audit, which is the line that Trump took during the presidential campaign too. The IRS, however, has said an audit does not prevent an individual from releasing personal tax information.

Using information from a leaked portion of Trump’s tax returns from 2005, NBC News quoted a tax expert estimating that the combined estates of both Trump and first lady Melania Trump would save about $1 billion from the repeal of the estate tax. The expert also estimated that Trump would save $22.6 million thanks to the repeal of the alternative minimum tax, after capital gains taxes were taken into account. But without Trump’s most recent tax returns, or a more full glimpse at the 2005 return, the full impact couldn’t be nailed down.

The House passed the final version of the plan Tuesday afternoon, with the Senate expected to vote on the bill later that same day.

[The Hill]

Trump Tells Republicans to Cut Taxes for the Rich, Like Trump

President Donald Trump pushed Republicans on Monday to cut taxes on the rich by using money that’s slated to help lower-income Americans purchase health insurance.

Trump’s request, which the president relayed by Twitter from his trip through Asia, comes at a sensitive moment in tax negotiations. It also goes against his repeated insistence that tax legislation should be focused on providing middle-class tax relief rather than cutting taxes for wealthy filers like himself.

At times, the president has even predicted that he would pay more under a GOP plan (Trump has not released his tax returns, but multiple provisions in the House and Senate bills appear likely to benefit his business and family).

The House and Senate have released competing bills, neither of which ends the individual Obamacare mandate to maintain insurance coverage or lowers the top rate nearly as far as the president requested on Monday.

In the case of the House bill, the top rate would stay at the current 39.6 percent but would apply it to a higher income threshold: For married couples, it would only kick in after the first $1,000,000 in income versus $470,000 now.

The Senate bill would lower the top rate to 38.5 percent and also have a $1,000,000 threshold for married filers.

Republicans have weighed repealing the individual mandate in recent weeks, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates would free up $338 billion over 10 years for tax reform.

But the savings occur only because CBO predicts 13 million fewer people would have health insurance by 2027. It’s not clear whether that’s enough to reduce top rates to Trump’s desired levels or provide additional middle-class benefits.

In general, rich households already do well in analyses of the current tax plans thanks to provisions like ending the alternative minimum tax, reducing or repealing the estate tax, and cutting taxes for pass-through entities, all of which could potentially benefit Trump himself.

Under the new Senate bill, for example, the conservative Tax Foundation estimates the top 1 percent of taxpayers would see a 7.5 percent increase in after-tax income, versus less than 2 percent for the bottom 80 percent.

Democrats, who have spent weeks attacking the Republican tax bills as a boon to the rich, quickly seized on Trump’s remarks.

“Sooner or later, President Trump’s core supporters will realize that he’s selling them out,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “This proposal would send premiums for millions of Americans skyrocketing, all so that the wealthy can get an even bigger tax giveaway than they’d get under the original Republican plan.”

[NBC News]

Trump Tells Democrats He’ll ‘Get Killed’ Financially in GOP Tax Bill

President Donald Trump called 12 Senate Democrats Tuesday, hoping to sway them in favor of the Republican tax cut bill, and told them he would personally “get killed” financially by the GOP bill. He said the wealthy need a repeal of the estate tax, according to multiple people who were present.

“My accountant called me and said ‘you’re going to get killed in this bill,'” the president said during a phone call from his trip in South Korea. He was apparently trying to increase Democratic support by claiming the bill would hurt wealthy taxpayers like himself, making the point that only the repeal of the estate tax would provide him any benefit.

Many of those Democrats are from states Trump won in 2016.

After the call with Trump ended, the meeting, which included his legislative affairs chief Marc Short and economics adviser Gary Cohn, turned into a sparring match between Democrats and White House officials over a politically broken Senate and who is to blame, multiple senators who attended the meeting said.

Short confirmed the president’s remarks and said they were part of a discussion on the elimination of individual deductions in the tax bill. Short said the estate tax was a separate issue.

Trump told the Democrats on the phone that he wanted a repeal of the estate tax in the bill because they had to give something to rich people, people in the room said.

“I think that we’ve been advocating for the elimination of the death tax for a while,” Short told NBC News, using the favored Republican term for the estate tax.

Trump, a billionaire, has not released any tax returns and so it has not been possible for the public to assess how this plan could benefit him personally and his family. Senate Republicans are rushing to release their tax cut bill later this week.

Asked to comment on the president’s remarks to the group, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, “The president did call in and urged senators to support the bill.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said the president told the Democrats “this bill is terrible for rich people, and we (Democrats) don’t really agree.”

An analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation found that after 2023, people making between $20,000 and $40,000 would see a tax increase. People making $200,000 to $500,000 per year would also see a tax increase after 2023 under the current GOP plan. A repeal of the estate tax would give the wealthy an additional $300 billion dollar tax break.

The House is amending its version of a tax overhaul initially released last week and the Senate is expected to unveil its version of a bill on Thursday. The Senate Finance Committee is expected to move quickly, advancing the measure though the committee process starting Monday, a timeline that Democrats say shuts them out of the process.

Senate Democrats complained about components of the House bill during the meeting, but Short and Cohn told them that the Senate bill will be much different than the House version and that the Senate bill is the one that matters.

The hour-long meeting became increasingly testy when Democrats complained about the process. Republicans have been crafting a bill behind closed doors and have sought no Democratic input.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., grew frustrated and got into a heated back and forth with Short.

“Give us your input now,” Short told Tester, according to the Montana senator.

Democrats continued to complain about Republicans locking them out of the process, making the argument that true bipartisan tax overhaul should get the support of 70 senators.

But Short responded to their concerns by blaming Democrats for Senate dysfunction because they have held up Trump’s nominees.

[NBC News]

Reality

Donald Trump stands to save over $1 billion dollars in taxes, with his tax reform.

1 2