Monthly Archives: March 2018

Even a Stopped Clock Is Right Twice a Day

President Trump gets almost everything wrong. But once in a while he does something approximately right. Exhibit A: Trump and his trade team have re-aligned U.S. trade policy, from pursuit of a wishful fantasy called universal “free trade” to a realistic recognition that other nations use protectionism to their advantage. The real task is to negotiate a fair balance of different national economic systems. Though Trump, with his usual bombast and theatricality, began stupidly with universal tariffs on steel [...]

By | 2018-03-30T16:34:37+00:00 March 30th, 2018|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

When Trump Does Something Right

The trade deal with South Korea is a model for future trade agreements. What a pity that it fell to a lunatic like Donald Trump to bring it about. Credit mainly goes to Trump’s trade advisers, especially Peter Navarro and Robert Lighthizer. The deal exempts South Korea from the steel tariffs, in exchange for an agreement by the Koreans to cut steel exports to the U.S. by about 30 percent. Past investigations have found that Korean steel is heavily subsidized. The deal also commits [...]

By | 2018-03-28T16:20:42+00:00 March 28th, 2018|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Saturday Night Massacre—or Saturday Night Live?

Let’s review the bidding. The pundits keep warning that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s firing is imminent. Trump obviously seethes and keeps fantasizing about telling Mueller he’s fired. What next? If Trump does move to fire Mueller, he has to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein first. More precisely, he’d have to order Rosenstein to fire Mueller, give Rosenstein time to respond, then replace him, and go down the chain until he can find someone willing to fire the special [...]

By | 2018-03-28T10:16:10+00:00 March 26th, 2018|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

How the Globalists Brought Us Trump

The headlines today are filled with alarmist language about how Trump’s retaliatory tariffs against China risk setting off a trade war. He’s imposing up to $60 billion worth of tariffs against an array of goods to compensate for a range of Chinese predatory tactics, including theft of intellectual property, subsidy of production below cost, and coercive “partnerships” with U.S.-based companies seeking to do business in China. Here’s the pity of it all. The financial and political elite had this coming, [...]

By | 2018-03-28T10:31:53+00:00 March 23rd, 2018|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Pete Peterson Meets St. Peter

Name, Please? Peter G. Peterson. And what makes you think you deserve admission to the Pearly Gates? I’ve led a virtuous life, made billions, and gave most of it to charity. What sort of charity? Well, I gave over $1 billion to create the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, to warn Americans about the dangers of deficits and debts, and the excesses of Social Security and Medicare. Yes? And where’s the charity part? Too much spending will bankrupt America, especially [...]

By | 2018-03-21T11:03:55+00:00 March 21st, 2018|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Odd Couple

The pattern of Russian lying, in this case to deny any involvement in the murder of a former Russian double agent in Britain, sounds faintly familiar. The British government has identified the weapon as a military-grade nerve agent called Novichok, a compound made only in Russia. On Sunday, Putin called the claim “total rubbish, drivel, and nonsense.” (They don’t edit him for redundancy.) Putin went on to insist that Russia had destroyed all of its chemical weapons, as required by international treaty, [...]

By | 2018-03-19T16:26:32+00:00 March 19th, 2018|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

How the Press Drinks the Kool-Aid—and Passes It On to You

It’s maddening how the mainstream press absorbs and replays ruling ideology as fact. You have to be paying attention, or you don’t see it. Exhibit A is a seemingly neutral New York Times reporting piece on challenges facing Angela Merkel in her new term. The title is a little suspicious: “As Merkel Begins New Term, Compromises Could Pose Threat.” What fatal compromises? The writer, Jack Ewing, goes on to warn—remember, this is a news piece, not an op-ed—“She had to bend to demands [...]

By | 2018-03-16T15:51:55+00:00 March 16th, 2018|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Tom Friedman and the Reality Club

It was only a matter of time before reality hit Tom Friedman over the head. Or did it? After a long, long delay—decades actually—Friedman’s Wednesday column in the Times concedes that he might have been wrong about China moving to join the ranks of market democracies. His title is, “Some Things Are Right Even If Trump Believes Them.” Friedman writes: For those of us who believe in free trade—and that China and America can both thrive at the same time—but who are convinced that [...]

By | 2018-03-15T10:10:11+00:00 March 15th, 2018|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Spinning the Pennsylvania House Race

The special election to fill a vacant House seat is Tuesday, and polls show the race in a dead heat. A loss, or even a near-miss would be devastating to Republicans, since Trump carried the longtime GOP seat by about 20 points. A Democratic pickup would portend major Democratic gains November. The district, in greater Pittsburgh, is exactly the kind of territory where blue-collar voters deserted Democrats in droves—and are now coming back. Democrat Conor Lamb is a social conservative—he defends gun [...]

By | 2018-03-12T15:28:33+00:00 March 12th, 2018|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Spare Us the Ghosts of Smoot and Hawley!

One of the enduring myths of American economic history is that the Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1930 deepened the Great Depression. Here’s James B. Stewart in Friday’s New York Times. After Smoot-Hawley was passed, Stewart solemnly warns, other nations retaliated and exports “plunged 61 percent from 1929 to 1933. … [T]he ensuing trade war exacerbated and prolonged the hardships of the Great Depression.” The only problem with this received wisdom is that it has been thoroughly debunked by the respected dean of trade historians, [...]

By | 2018-03-12T10:07:23+00:00 March 9th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments