Headlines: June 7, 2019
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The White House has said that President Donald Trump could change his mind on tariffs aimed at Mexico over the weekend. Trump, who has just returned from a week long trip to the UK and Europe, angered lawmakers including his own Republican colleagues with the surprise unilateral announcement of using tariffs as a way to threaten Mexico into preventing Central American migrants and refugees from entering the US. Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence spoke to reporters on Friday about negotiations between the two nations saying, “I think that there is the ability, if negotiations continue to go well, that the president can turn that off at some point over the weekend.” Kevin Hassett, White House Chief Economic Advisor also addressed reporters attempting to explain the President’s thinking. Meanwhile Mexico’s foreign minister announced on Thursday that his nation plans to deploy its National Guard to the southern Mexican border with Guatemala as part of its effort to stem the flow of refugees from Central America.
The Jobs report for the month of May was just released and the figures are far less rosy than expected. The US economy added only 75,000 jobs in May, a huge drop from the 224,000 added in April. The Washington Post explained that, “Manufacturing and construction saw anemic job growth in May with fewer than 5,000 jobs added in each sector, one of the clearest signs that Trump’s tariffs are having a negative impact on blue-collar sectors the president has been trying to boost.” There are reports that investors are now looking to the Federal Reserve to ease the negative impact of Trump’s tariffs by reducing interest rates. The irony is that Trump has denigrated the Federal Reserve for months but it may now be the agency that can salvage the economy from his actions – despite the fact that it would be highly unusual for the Fed to respond to specific Presidential actions.
Trump and his family are coming under fire for their vacation-like jaunt to the UK and Europe this week that was conducted at taxpayer expense but seemed optimized to promote Trump’s businesses on the continent. Trump took all four of his adult children with him who also happen to run his various real estate and resort businesses. The Trump children Instagrammed their fun, blurring the line between official business and a business/pleasure trip.
President Trump’s ego appears to have suffered a deep bruise at reports of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying she wanted to see him in prison after being prosecuted for his crimes after leaving office. The man who popularized chants of “lock her up” aimed at Hillary Clinton lashed out at the House Speaker in a Fox News interview from Europe name-calling the House Speaker after hearing that Nancy Pelosi wants to see him imprisoned for his crimes.
An internal watchdog at the Department of Homeland Security visited several facilities holding immigrants in detention and found unacceptable conditions. The Office of the Inspector General just released its report based on unannounced visits to several detention centers in California, Louisiana, Colorado and New Jersey conducted last year. The report said, “Our observations confirmed concerns identified in detainee grievances, which indicated unsafe and unhealthy conditions to varying degrees at all of the facilities we visited.” Among the conditions detailed were “spoiled and moldy food,” and “inappropriate segregation practices” that “infringe on detainee rights.” Meanwhile the federal government opened a new facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas to hold up to 1,600 teenage migrants and refugees traveling unaccompanied. The facility once provided housing for oil field workers. There are several other new facilities for immigrant minors that the government is on the verge of opening. According to AP, “All the new facilities will be considered temporary emergency shelters, so they won’t be subject to state child welfare licensing requirements.”
Presidential candidate Joe Biden has reversed his position on the Hyde Amendment after coming under pressure from women’s rights groups. The Hyde Amendment bans the use of federal funding for abortions and up until this past Wednesday Biden had said that he supported the measure. But at a Democratic National Committee event on Thursday night Biden decided to change course. One attendee captured his remarks changing his position on the Hyde Amendment after facing strong criticism. He refused to apologize for holding his previous position.
Meanwhile a major Democratic presidential candidate event is taking place in Iowa over the weekend, expected to be the biggest such gathering so far. Nineteen candidates are expected to attend, with Biden yet again being the most prominent no-show. The candidates will give rapid-fire speeches to the 1,400 people in attendance as a key deadline to fundraise approaches. Reuters reports that Senators Corey Booker and Kamala Harris are planning to hold rallies ahead of the event, while Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will lead a march of McDonald’s workers. Sanders has demanded that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allow the Senate to take up the Raise the Wage Act which would increase the $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
US Automakers have written a letter to President Trump over fuel economy standards, urging his administration to work out a deal with the state of California. General Motors, Ford, and Toyota were among the dozen or more corporations that signed on to the letter. The White House has proposed lowering regulations for fuel economy standards while California has kept its strict standards in place, leaving automakers saying they will have trouble planning for their bottom line. Automakers have lobbied against California’s rules for years but Trump’s roll-back appears to be too extreme even for them.
And finally French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Friday that he wanted to organize a summit of the G-7 this August in France to discuss the steps nations are taking on climate change. Macron said it was important to, “understand where our differences lie” and “how we can overcome them.”