Can Congressional Republicans Talk Trump Down From Starting A Trade War With Mexico?

McConnell and Child by Nancy Ohanian

With Señor Trumpanzee away making a fool of himself in Europe, Senate Republicans are hissing and snarling in a way they would never do if he were in town. Even the queen of toadies, Mitch McTurtle, warned that Senate Republicans-- he believes he, rather than Trump-- speaks for them oppose his threats to levy a massive tax on the American people via a system of economically unjustifiable tariffs against Mexico. On Tuesday, McTurtle was unimpressed by a couple of random White House left-behinds-- deputy counsel Pat Philbin and Assistant Attorney General Steve Engel-- who laid out the case for tariffs. John Kennedy (R-LA), basically said the two schlemiels were a joke. "Both bright guys, but they don’t have decision-making authority. What I’m hoping we can do is when the president gets back from the U.K. we can all sit down and try to figure out how to move forward together." McTurtle's #2, John Cornyn (R-TX), agreed: "The problem is we didn’t have the decision makers there. The president and half his Cabinet [are] over in Europe, and obviously the clock is ticking. Time’s wasting. What we need to do is get in front of the president and have that conversation."

When McTurtle left, he told reporters "there is not much support in my conference for tariffs, that's for sure." One of his cronies from Oklahoma add that Trumpanzee "is trying to use tariffs to solve every problem but HIV and climate change." (I would love to hear Pelosi or Chuck recycle that one some time.) Ron Johnson (R-WI) warned that this time the Senate will override his veto, boasting that Trump "ought to be concerned about another vote of disapproval on another national emergency act, this time trying to implement tariffs. Tariffs are not real popular in the Republican Conference. This would be a different vote… This would certainly give me great pause."

Romney went even further: "When it comes to applying a tariff to Mexico, I for one would not support that. I do not favor tariffs being applied to friends like Mexico. If there’s a vote I think it’s a very difficult vote for those of us who oppose tariffs. I would not be inclined to vote [for] a tariff against a friend."

Over in London, Trumpanzee, claimed the tariffs will go into effect on Monday and that he has "tremendous Republican support." Ted Cruz told the two Trump messenger boys that the tariffs have virtually no support. This was also when he was claiming massive crowds turned out to cheer his arrival in London:

Bloomberg News' two Jennies reported that McTurtle told the two goof balls at the White House that Trump must hold off on the tariffs until Senate Republicans can sit him down face to face and educate him on what they would mean politically and economically. Trump claims this is a quote from poor Kevin McCarthy, who never said any such thing. But now McCarthy doesn't have the cajones to stand up for himself and publicly say what he's already saying privately-- that Trump made up the quote out of the blue and didn't even run it by him!

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is a far worse toadie than even McTurtle and he urged his conference to stop criticizing the Trumpanzee trade wars in a blur of convoluted reasoning: "At the end of the day we should support the president so we can get an agreement so we don't have tariffs. Them talking about not supporting him undercuts his ability to do that." In other words: just let join do whatever he wants; he's much smarter than we are. Ironically, McCarthy's own state would be hurt far worse than most states in the trade war with Mexico gets rolling-- hundreds of dollars annually in extra costs to families and at least 50,000 lost jobs.

At one time-- way back in 2015/16-- it might have been Larry Kudlow who could talk Trump down. At the time, he was taped saying Trump's trade policies would lead to a depression and cause "incalculable damage" to the economy. "Donald Trump, he is a protectionist. He will jack up tariffs and those are higher tax rates and they will pose incalculable damage on our economy. He will destroy the dollar. That's basically been his message, if anybody cares to look at it... "You slap a 25%, 35% tariff on our leading trading partners like Mexico and China. We may not like them, sir, but tariffs and protectionism is not the answer... It will do incalculable damage to the American economy. Okay? We will cut off our nose to spite our face and that is not the right policy... We don't need this. This will backfire on America and the rest of the world... "He wants to stop trading with China. He wants to stop trading with Mexico. Lord knows who else he wants to stop trading with. These are huge trading partners of ours. There are political issues that need to be resolved, but you never cut off your nose to spite your face, do you? That's what Trump is doing. Too many Republicans are flirting with protectionism. Protectionism is anti-growth, protectionism, protectionism led to the depression of the 1930s. Lower tariffs equals lower taxes equals growth. In the 1930s high tariffs, Smoot-Hawley tariffs, equals high taxes, equals depression. It's that simple. Too many Republicans on the campaign trail are flirting with protectionism. Trump is the worst, but he's not the only one... This anti-immigration thing has gone way too far. For example, Donald Trump is blaming the government of Mexico several times for sending us these terrible people. First of all, the government of Mexico has nothing to do with sending us anybody. It's not the government of Mexico, let's remember this before we get so protectionist, the United States and Mexico have very close relations. They're an important partner. They are our second biggest export market, right? Our third biggest trading market after Canada and Japan and China rather. And literally, literally millions of Americans go to Mexico for tourism and vacation and millions of American retirees live in Mexico because it's cheaper and rather pleasant. How's this guy going to negotiate with anybody, whether it's China, whether it's Vladimir Putin, whether it's the mullahs. He can't even get the story right on Mexico. He can't even distinguish between the good and bads on Mexico." 

Kudlow, now Trumpanzee's chief economic advisor, is singing from a very different hymnal these days.

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