Tariffs on China!

September 19, 2018

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china-tariffs/china-says-trump-forces-its-hand-will-retaliate-against-new-u-s-tariffs-idUSKCN1LX2M3

Monday evening, President Trump took the first meaningful step to extricate the U.S. from its decades-long trade policy nightmare that has wreaked havoc on the American people and economy.  He imposed a 10% tariff on $200 billion worth of imports from China, adding to the similar tariff he imposed earlier this year on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports.  His goal is to eliminate America’s massive trade deficit with China and restore a balance of trade.  When the Chinese failed to respond to the initial round of tariffs with voluntary measures to re-balance trade, the president was left with no choice but to take steps to assure that it happens.

Chinese reaction, and reaction by pro-trade lobbying organizations, has been predictable.  China threatened retaliation and yesterday announced small tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. exports.  Why only $60 billion?  Because that’s all that’s left after they already imposed tariffs on U.S. exports in response to Trump’s first round of tariffs.  In essence, they’re already out of ammo in the trade war.  Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said as much yesterday and Trump warned China that any retaliation against our farmers or industries would immediately result in tariffs on all remaining imports from China.

As reported in the above-linked Reuters article:

… Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a news briefing later that the U.S. steps have brought “new uncertainty” to talks between the two countries.

“China has always emphasized that the only correct way to resolve the China-U.S. trade issue is via talks and consultations held on an equal, sincere and mutually respectful basis. But at this time, everything the United States does not give the impression of sincerity or goodwill,” he added.

I can’t let that pass.  Let’s get one thing straight.  Red China is not America’s equal in any respect.  (I refer to them as Red China because their annointing of Chairman Xi as chairman for life proves that they are still nothing more than the totalitarian, communist regime that they were under Mao Tse Tung.)  Such regimes aren’t worthy of American respect.  Red China’s economy – formerly an economic backwater – has been propped up by dumb American trade policy.  It’s time to kick away that prop.

Business groups warned of disruptions to their supply chains.  Funny.  They had no problems with disrupting their long-standing American supply chains when they moved them to China in the first place.

Others warned of economic harm to American consumers:

“President Trump’s decision … is reckless and will create lasting harm to communities across the country,” said Dean Garfield, president of the Information Technology Industry Council, which represents major tech firms.

Seriously?  Recently, Trump was criticized for denying the death toll in Puerto Rico in the wake of hurricane Maria last year.  That death toll figure was arrived at by comparing the death rate in Puerto Rico to the death rate preceding the hurricane.  OK, let’s apply that same logic to American trade policy.  In the wake of engaging in free trade with China, Americans’ life expectancy has actually declined and death rates have risen as despair set into communities where one factory after another closed.  So, applying that same death toll methodology to U.S. trade policy, it’s clear that previous administrations are responsible for not a few thousand deaths, but millions.  And as the economy continues to recover in response to Trump’s trade policies, he can be credited with saving millions of lives.  Anyone with a brain can see that it was the export of American jobs to China that did “lasting harm to communities across the country.”  Reversing that process, as Trump is doing, can only be a huge boon to American communities.

One group has been conspicuously silent during this whole process and no one has reported on it.  For decades, American trade policy has been paralyzed by fear of the World Trade Organization.  Now we can see what an irrelevant, toothless tiger that organization is.  In Five Short Blasts, I pointed out that the WTO was actually powerless to do anything that nations weren’t already free to do before the organization existed.  Why have we waited all this time to take our trade policy back in our own hands and impose tariffs to restore a balance of trade?  Why have we stood idly by and racked up trillions of dollars of debt and devastated our communities out of fear of this organization?  Stupid.  There’s just no other word to describe it.

I honestly thought I’d never live to see the day when America would stand up for itself again.  It seemed that the sappy globalist mentality, reminiscent of the ’70s Coca Cola ad where everyone held hands and sang “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,” had condemned America to live out the rest of its existence as a sick host, lying helplessly as it’s fed upon by a horde of trade parasites.  But that day that I thought I’d never see came on Monday.  America has stopped being a trade chump.  There’s much more to be done.  The European Union has been as much of a trade parasite as China and needs to be dealt with in the same way.  So too does Mexico.  But this is a good start.

 

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Tariff Hysteria

March 3, 2018

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade/trade-wars-are-good-trump-says-defying-global-concern-over-tariffs-idUSKCN1GE1PM

Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you already know about the tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that Trump announced on Wednesday.  The reaction has bordered on mass hysteria, especially among “economists.”  I put that word in quotation marks because those who present themselves as experts in the field, but either lack the curiosity required to examine the effects of population growth, the biggest factor driving the global economy today or purposely avoid it because the findings would destroy their credibility, aren’t worthy of being dignified with the label.  One such “economist,” representing a “think tank” whose purpose it is to advance the cause of globalization (that is, the fleecing of Americans to prop up the economies of grossly overpopulated nations), described Trump’s tariff plan as a “return to 18th century trade policy.”  Apparently he doesn’t understand that the use of tariffs dominated U.S. trade policy through the first half of the 20th century, transforming the U.S. into the world’s preeminent industrial power and the world’s only “super-power.”

The reaction on Wall Street was swift, with market indexes falling several percent.  But not the stocks of U.S. steel producers.  Those actually rose several percent.  So what does that tell you?  Unlike “economists,” investors are people who put their money where their mouth is.  Investors fear what this move could mean for inflation and the broader economy, but they know very well it’ll be a big boost to steel and aluminum producers.  If tariffs are good for that industry, doesn’t it stand to reason that they’d be good for others if applied to those products as well?  How about autos?  Electronics?  Appliances?  The fact is that every U.S. producer of every category of product where the U.S. has a trade deficit would benefit from tariffs.

Virtually every media outlet since Trump “tweeted” about the tariffs soon after announcing them has quoted him as saying “… trade wars are good and easy to win …” in an effort to make him sound like a buffoon.  At least the above-linked Reuters article does provide the full quote further down in the article:

“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win,” Trump said on Twitter on Friday.

Put in the context of our massive trade deficit which, in terms of manufactured goods, isn’t just billions but is now approaching a trillion dollars a year, he is exactly right – a trade war would be a good thing and not only would it be “easy to win,” it’d be impossible to do anything but win and win big.  “Economists” and other countries don’t want you to know that.  They want to scare you with warnings of retailiation by other countries:

Europe has drawn up a list of U.S. products on which to apply tariffs if Trump follows through on his plan.

“We will put tariffs on Harley-Davidson, on bourbon and on blue jeans – Levi’s,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told German television.

Wow, that shows you how far down the list of products they had to go to find some that they actually import from the U.S.  And “blue jeans?”  Seriously?  Don’t they know that even Levis aren’t made in the U.S. any more?  Regardless, do you really want to go there, Europe?  Go ahead.  Slap tariffs on Harleys and bourbon.  We’ll retaliate with tariffs on cars.  See how you like that!  How long would Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen, Porsche and all the others survive without access to the U.S. market?

Another popular warning among the globalist fear mongers is that higher prices will be passed along to U.S. consumers.  The cost of every product that uses steel and aluminum will soar.  That’s utter nonsense.  When foreign steel producers have to raise their prices by 25% to cover the tariffs, will their customers continue buying their steel or will they simply turn to American suppliers that weren’t that much more expensive in the first place?  That’s the whole purpose of a tariff – not to collect revenue and make American consumers pay more, but to force the buyers of those products to switch to American suppliers.

There is a legitimate fear among manufacturers that forcing them to pay more for steel and aluminum, even if it’s only slighly more when they switch to American suppliers, will make them less competitive with foreign imports.  Here’s one example quoted in the article:

But home appliance maker Electrolux (ELUXb.ST) said it was delaying a $250 million expansion of its plant in Tennessee as it was worried U.S. steel prices would rise and make manufacturing there less competitive.

OK, Electrolux, would you change your mind if Trump also levied a tariff on imported appliances?  Not only would you go forward with your planned expansion, you’d probably rush to develop plans for more and bigger expansions.  My point is that these tariffs on steel and aluminum are a good start, but to have a real impact on the economy, they need to be levied on virtually every imported product so that, in every case, American consumers will choose the less expensive U.S.-made products.  Will that stoke inflation?  Sure, but not as fast as the demand for labor would send wages up.

Other fear mongers have raised the spectre of another scary scenario, where heavy buyers of U.S. debt, like China, would retaliate by dumping their bond holdings, driving up interest rates and inflation along with it.  Could they do that?  Sure, if they wanted to shoot themselves in the foot.  They’d be driving down the value of their biggest investments.  And let’s not forget that, as the U.S. trade deficit shrinks in response to the tariffs, the U.S. will be issuing less debt.  So the U.S. will be pulling bond issues off the table as fast as China and others try to sell theirs.  The end result is a wash and their “retaliation” will end up only hurting themselves.

The tariffs on steel and aluminum, on top of a few other small, targeted tariffs (like the recent tariffs on washers) are good, small steps.  But they’re nothing compared to what really needs to be done – the application of tariffs across the entire spectrum of manufactured goods.  To do that, the U.S. needs to withdraw from the World Trade Organization.  Or perhaps it doesn’t matter.  The only power the WTO has is to authorize other nations to retaliate – nothing more than they would do anyway, even if the WTO never existed.

A trade war?  We’ve been in a trade war ever since our country was founded.  The problem is that, with the signing of the Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1947 – the forerunner of the World Trade Organization – the U.S. gave up the fight.  The U.S. laid down and let others begin feeding on it like a swarm of parasites.  It’s high time we put up a fight again.


How’s Trump Doing?

October 3, 2017

With some slack time on a rainy day in the north woods, I thought I’d take a few moments to share some thoughts about Trump and his policies to date, as they relate to the economic problems wrought by worsening overpopulation: falling per capita consumption and the inevitable trade deficits caused by attempting to trade freely with badly overpopulated nations. So here goes:

Immigration:
Still no border wall. Other than that, I’ve been quite pleased with his other actions – the travel ban, the dramatic slowdown in visa processing, going after sanctuary cities, deporting illegal aliens, and so on. I also applaud him for his stance on the “dreamers,” those brought here as young children by their illegal alien parents. It may surprise you to learn that I’m actually in favor of allowing them to stay, even providing them a path to full citizenship. By all accounts, we’re talking about 800,000 people here. But it needs to be a one-time program. And it needs to be part of a bigger immigration reform that includes dramatic cuts in legal immigration – at least 50% (including student visas), and an end to the pyramid scheme of “family preferences” that, within a few generations, would make virtually every person on earth a candidate to become a permanent legal resident in the U.S. Trump is right to kick this issue back to congress and to demand action, but I don’t understand why he’s “selling it” so cheap. By demanding the above reforms, he could put an end to our out-of-control immigration. No senator or congressman would dare vote against it because all anyone would ever remember is that they voted against the “dreamer act” and in favor of deporting the dreamers.

Trade:
Here I have to say that I’m “hugely” disappointed in Trump’s failure to deliver on his promise to raise tariffs and/or border taxes in order to rebalance trade. But perhaps I’m impatient for action on this issue. His administration has taken some tough stances and is in the process of renegotiating NAFTA while also trying to reform the World Trade Organization. Last week it was revealed that the U.S. has been quietly blocking the filling of vacancies on the panel of appeals judges at the WTO and is now trying to assume a veto power if judges aren’t available. Reportedly, Trump told John Kelly, his new chief-of-staff, that he wants someone to bring him some tariffs. And most recently, when Boeing complained of Bombardier “dumping” planes on the U.S. market, the Trump administration promptly levied a 216% tariff on Bombardier planes. So there’s still reason for optimism.

Tax Reform:
Though this is the issue that excites the business community, the media and maybe even average Americans the most, for me it’s a non-issue unless a border tax is included as part of the reform. Dramatic cuts to corporate taxes, combined with some minimal cuts for average taxpayers, will blow a huge hole in the budget, just like it did when Reagan did the same thing back in the ‘80s. Sure, it’ll stimulate economic growth just a little, but no more than the amount of tax reductions that are plowed back into the economy. To expect a trillion dollar tax cut to generate economic growth of $4 trillion (the amount of growth it’d take to make it revenue-neutral) is a hocus-pocus fairy tale. And cutting corporate taxes that much will simply leave corporations with more money to invest in more job-killing manufacturing overseas. But all of that would change if a border tax were part of the package. Then it would truly be revenue-neutral and would fuel an explosion in economic growth. Trump is missing a huge opportunity by not insisting that a border tax be part of the package.

Paris Climate Accord:
Trump was 100% right to pull out of this agreement. Ask anyone and everyone the purpose of that agreement and every single person will tell you that its goal is to stop climate change. And every one of them would be wrong, because they haven’t read the stated mission of the accord, which is to merely slow climate change to a pace that would allow “sustainable development” to continue and, by the way, would essentially “tax” Americans to help fund that development in the rest of the world. “Sustainable development” is the very reason the world now finds itself in this global warming fix – because what world leaders thought was “sustainable” has proven not to be. So if global warming is slowed so that “sustainable development” can continue unabated, then every other problem associated with our exploding population – environmental and otherwise – will worsen, including mass extinction as habitat loss accelerates, more landfills, more trash in the ocean, more underground disposal of various hazardous wastes (including nuclear), and now a new one – the underground disposal of CO2 removed from exhaust streams. Where does it end? It needs to end now, and just maybe mother nature is doing us a favor by using climate change to wake us up. With all of that said, it disturbs me to hear that Trump may consider re-entering a renegotiated climate accord.

Repeal and replace “Obamacare”:
For me, this is another non-issue. The unaffordability of health care is a symptom of a deeper underlying problem, namely that every year the U.S. economy is drained of about $800 billion through the trade deficit, making everyone poorer and more dependent on deficit spending by the federal government to maintain an illusion of prosperity. Fix the trade deficit and the whole health care issue will go away.

So that’s it. Although I never really liked Donald Trump very much, and cringe at a lot of his “tweets” and some of the things he says, overall I’ve been pretty pleased with where the country is headed under his direction. But the trade/tariff/border tax issue is critical. If we don’t see action on reducing the trade deficit in manufactured goods, I fear that all will be lost. Like you told John Kelly, Mr. Trump, “we want tariffs and we want them now!”


Manufactured Goods Deficit Rises to 2nd Worst Level of Obama’s Administration

July 12, 2012

On the surface, yesterday’s release of May trade data sounded like good news.  The trade deficit fell for the 2nd consecutive month to $48.6 billion after hitting $52.6 billion in March, preceded by the worst level of the Obama administration in January – $53.0 billion. 

Good news?  Not so fast.  Nearly all of the decline was due to a drop in oil prices.  That in itself is good news, but what would make oil more affordable for all of us is if jobs were plentiful and incomes were rising.  So what happened in May regarding the more important category of manufactured goods, where the jobs are to be found?  There, the news is grim.  The deficit in manufactured goods rose to the 2nd worst level of the Obama administration – $41.3 billion.  (That’s an annual rate of nearly $500 billion and represents a loss of about 7 million manufacturing jobs.)  And, for the 8th consecutive month, manufactured exports lagged the president’s goal (set in January of 2010) of doubling  in five years.  Here are  charts of the balance of trade in manufactured goods and a chart of manufactured imports and exports vs. President Obama’s goal:  Manf’d Goods Balance of Trade     Manf’d exports vs. goal

Overall exports, including all goods and services, failed to meet the president’s goal for the 10th consecutive month.  Here’s the chart:  Obamas Goal to Double Exports.  And here’s a chart of the total trade deficit since President Obama set that goal, the cornerstone of his economic policy, in January, 2010:  Balance of Trade.  As you can see, judging by total trade, May was merely a “one-step-forward” month in the “one-step-forward, two-steps-back” decline in manufacturing that has persisted not just for two years, but for decades. 

As I predicted, this “plan” to double exports in five years, the cornerstone of President Obama’s economic plan, is already proving to be an abysmal failure.  Merely saying that we will double exports in five years was no plan at all.  It was wishful thinking.  Assembling a team of CEO’s of “American” manufacturing companies to address the issue of exports wasn’t a strategy, it was a show.  There is nothing that anyone can do to boost exports, since exports are driven by foreign demand and no one in America has any control over that. 

“Nonsense,” you might counter.  “There’s a lot we can do to make ourselves more competitive.”  True, but there’s nothing you can do to stop foreign competition from working just as hard to remain competitive, as they surely do and will.  The end result is no change in our competitive position and no change in foreign demand for American-made products.  Imports, on the other hand, are totally within our control, which means that the ability to force a return to domestically manufacturing the products we consume is also totally within our control, if only we choose to exercise that power, through the use of tariffs, quotas and other import controls.

“We can’t do that; international law prohibits it” you might say.  Baloney.  There is no such thing as “international law.”  There are only obligations that go along with the terms of agreements, treaties and international organizations.  It is completely within our power to terminate agreements and withdraw from treaties and international organizations (like the World Trade Organization) any time we want.  Sure, it would result in some turmoil.  But when did Americans vote to cede their rights to international organizations in order to avoid a little turmoil?  The point is that there are plenty of actions the president can take to immediately have a major impact on jobs and the economy, even without the consent of Congress,  if only he had the intestinal fortitude.  He doesn’t.  He’s content to paper over our problems with more deficit spending designed to obscure the fact that, thanks to decades of idiotic trade policy, America is in decline and Americans are growing poorer. 

* * * * *

My charts on trade in manufactured goods contain a major revision this month.  I discovered that my data was understating the size of the deficit in manufactured goods by the amount of the surplus in services.  I had been subtracting from the total trade deficit the balance of trade in food, feeds and beverages and in petroleum products to arrive at a figure for manufactured goods, forgetting that services were included in the total balance of trade.  I should have been using the balance of trade for goods alone, a larger deficit than the total deficit because of the surplus in services. 

* * * * *

This post is my first since returning from a 3-week hiatus at my north woods retreat, where internet access is available only by taking a 13-mile drive to town, time that is better spent in my little fishing boat, jigging for walleye and bass.  I have a lot of catching up to do, so stay tuned.  Here it comes. 

 


Where Does the TEA Party Stand on Trade?

September 3, 2011

As I was commenting on some editorial the other day, I began to wonder where the TEA Party stands on the issue of foreign trade.  The TEA Party has been extremely effective in driving the debate on debt and government spending.  If the TEA Party ever aspires to become a real force in American politics in general, it has to have a position on every issue, especially one as important to the American economy as trade.

So I visited their web site to learn more.  For starters, here’s how their banner reads:

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY * LIMITED GOVERNMENT * FREE MARKET

Hmmm.  “Free Market.”  What does that mean?  Searching further on the site, here’s their explanation:

… we support a return to the free market principles on which this nation was founded and oppose government intervention into the operations of private business.

What exactly does this mean?  It sounds like it’s focused more on intervention in the market by the federal government.  But what about intervention by world government, which is exactly what the World Trade Organization does, stripping the U.S. of its right to set trade policy and manipulating international trade in favor of developing nations.  When the TEA Party says “… free market principles on which this nation was founded …,” does it understand that our founding fathers relied heavily on tariffs to protect our fledgling economy and build it into an industrial powerhouse?  Does it realize that “free market principles,” at least as they relate to “free trade,” didn’t even exist in the late 1700s when our nation was founded?  It wasn’t until 1812 that economist Ricardo came up with his “principle of comparative advantage,” laying the foundation for free trade theory.  And it wasn’t until 1947 that we were bamboozled by economists into giving it a try.

So I used their web site’s contact form to submit to them the following question:

I run a blog that’s dedicated to a new economic theory and its ramifications for trade policy.  I’m interested in learning the TEA Party’s stance on U.S. trade policy.  In its banner, the TEA Party champions “Free Markets.”  Does that apply only to government interference in markets or more broadly to international trade in general?  Does the TEA Party support America’s membership in and deference to the World Trade Organization, or does it support America’s right to set trade policy in its own best self-interest?

If the TEA Party supports U.S. membership in the WTO, then I’d like to understand how the TEA Party reconciles that stance with the fact that deficit spending is necessary to offset the negative consequences of a trade deficit?  Also, does the TEA Party believe that it’s possible to balance the federal budget while enduring a continuing trade deficit?

Thanks.  I look forward to your reply.

I hope I get a response.  I suspect that the TEA Party hasn’t really given foreign trade much thought.  If they did and if they came to realize that membership in the WTO is “government intervention” in the extreme, and that trade deficits only exacerbate deficit spending, I believe they could become a formidable force in the move to take back our right to manage trade in our own best self-interest.


An Interview with the Leader of the World Trade Organization

September 2, 2011

http://www.cnbc.com/id/44352671

Here’s something rich!  Yesterday, the leader of the WTO (World Trade Organization) stated that there’s no way that the world can return to “protectionism.”  (See the above link.)  If only the CNBC reporter who took the interview was well-versed enough to know that the WTO is the world’s biggest practitioner of protectionism, the interview could’ve gotten interesting.  Perhaps it’d have gone something like this:

CNBC:  But Mr. Lamy, doesn’t the WTO actually use protectionist policies to the benefit of undeveloped and developing nations, including China?

Lamy:  No, no.  Those policies are what we refer to at the WTO as “developmentism.”

CNBC:  So “developmentism” works well for these nations?

Lamy:  Oh, very well, indeed!  Just look at how successful it has been in China.  Millions of people have been lifted out of poverty.

CNBC:  But “developmentism” isn’t applied evenly.  What do you call the policies applied to other nations, the U.S. being the prime example?

Lamy:  That’s free trade.  Free trade is a marvelous thing that has been very beneficial for the U.S. in many ways.

CNBC:  In what ways, exactly?

Lamy:  Many ways.  Ways that are difficult to quantify and thus difficult for the average American to comprehend. 

CNBC:  So developmentism works well for some nations while free trade is better for others?

Lamy:  I guess you could put it that way.

CNBC:  So when does “developmentism” stop being the right trade policy for a nation as opposed to free trade?  Have any nations developed yet to the point where they graduate from “developmentism” to free trade?

Lamy:  No.

CNBC:  I’m confused.  If “developmentism” helps a nation develop, then wouldn’t the continued use of “developmentism” by wealthy nations allow them to develop even further? 

Lamy:  No.  The use of “developmentism” by wealthy nations is actually “protectionism.” 

CNBC:  How does that work?  How does “developmentism” morph into “protectionism” when it’s actually the same set of trade practices? 

Lamy:  Oh, look at the time.  I’ve got to run.  I’m late for a dinner with Chinese trade delegates.  We must talk more again some time. 

There are actually a couple of aspects of this article that I found encouraging.  First, that Lamy is jittery enough about the potential for a return of protectionism in the U.S. that he feels it necessary to speak out against it.  Secondly, read the comments by readers.  (My own is amongst them.)  With one exception, readers were unanimous in their criticism of Lamy and the WTO. 

I also found it interesting that, shortly after I posted my comment, the article was yanked from CNBC’s front page and I actually had to do a word search to find it again.  Not that my comment alone was responsible, but the tidal wave of negative comments. 

As I wrote my comment, a thought occurred to me that will be the subject of an upcoming post.


Here They Come: More Free Trade Deals

November 4, 2010

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6A270720101103

Does anyone recall the electorate clamoring for more trade deals before the election?  No.  That’s not what the Republicans have been sent to Congress to do.  Wasn’t it all about creating jobs and cutting spending?  Nevertheless, here they come.  (See the above-linked Reuters article.)

Although President Obama welched on his promise to scrap NAFTA and has failed to respond to Mexican tariffs, Japanese dumping and China’s currency manipulation, give him credit for at least tabling any new free trade deals.  But all that is over now.  Republicans are already licking their chops at the prospect of moving forward the free trade deal with South Korea.  More will soon follow. 

The stated goal is to “open new markets to U.S. exports.”  But has anyone ever seen a trade deal that didn’t begin with the U.S. first opening its market to those nations’ imports?  And can anyone recall the U.S. ever following through to assure that U.S. exports get fair treatment?  Do people understand that the terms of free trade deals are dictated by the World Trade Organization and are stacked against the U.S., enforcing protectionism in favor of most nations while banning such practices by the U.S.?  Do they understand that, even if the playing field is level, disparities in population density and per capita consumption make trade with overpopulated nations a sure-fire loser? 

No, they don’t understand such things, but they do understand that, for whatever reason, our manufacturing jobs have been lost to such trade deals and they want it stopped.  No one sent Republicans to Congress to go back to their old ways of cutting lopsided trade deals as payback to their corporate benefactors.  If this is the mandate they think they’ve been given, they’re sorely mistaken.