Donald Trump in his first full day on the job put a headstone on the grave of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The move, accomplished by signing an executive order removing the United States as a signatory to the 12-nation pact, was no surprise. Trump made his opposition to the deal a central feature of his pitch to workers displaced in part by globalization. On Monday, he simply formalized what appears to be a break with decades of Republican thinking that’s favored freer trade as a boon to American business.
Still, business groups that have invested millions of dollars over the last two years trying to drum up support for the TPP were oddly quiet about its funeral. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers said nothing. The Business Roundtable, which coordinated the lobbying effort for the pact, issued a statement from Cummins CEO Tom Linebarger that didn’t mention the TPP by name and made it tough to tell whether anything had happened at all. “We are encouraged by the Administration’s commitment to pursue trade agreements,” it said in part, noting only that separate deals that the Europeans and Chinese are chasing in the region “will make it even more difficult for the United States to compete.”
The business lobby isn’t typically so coy about saying what it wants from Washington, so what’s going on? In part, their reticence reflects a fear of antagonizing a president who’s demonstrated he doesn’t take criticism well. It also stems from a hope, encouraged by the Trump team, that the new administration won’t see the issue in binary terms. That is, while the TPP’s multilateral approach is a no-go, there may be a way to patch together the market access it achieved through one-off agreements with the same countries. One well-placed Senate Republican source says to look for those talks to kick off with Japan, once Robert Lighthizer, Trump’s trade ambassador, is confirmed. And negotiations with the U.K. on a bilateral deal will likely begin later this week when British prime minister Theresa May pays Trump his first visit in office from a foreign head of state. “It will probably take more time. But you’re achieving the same result, which is greater interdependence among friendly governments that will benefit the American consumer and American businesses,” the Senate source says. It’s a consolation prize that business groups would be happy to claim.
Things are off to an exceedingly bumpy start in the earliest days of the Trump presidency.
Trump pledged to impose a “substantial border tax” on those moving production abroad.
Ajit Pai, Trump’s pick to lead the commission, has said he wants to take a “weed whacker” to FCC regulations, including net neutrality.
Some prominent fund managers think that the broad outlines of the Affordable Care Act will remain in place and are investing in health sector companies they see as unfairly dinged by the political uncertainty.
Republican Senators are warning Trump not to pull the U.S. out of the landmark trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.
The Alabama senator has historically taken a hard line against corporate lawbreakers.
Number of the Day
The number of ballots Trump falsely claimed — during a closed-door huddle with Congressional leaders on Monday evening — that illegal immigrants cast for his opponent in the presidential election. There is no evidence for the allegation, and Trump’s obsession with the popular vote totals, and his popular support generally, at a time when he should be focusing on organizing his government is, at best, a major distraction.