Jan 13, 2019

Chuck Grassley talks trade

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Powerful Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who as Finance Committee chairman will oversee Trump's trade agenda, sat down with Axios on Friday to discuss this fraught moment in international trade.

Behind the scenes: Trump's principal trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer had just left Grassley's office as we entered, a Grassley aide told us, and we began the trade discussion by asking Grassley what he learned from that conversation with Lighthizer. Grassley said they discussed the ongoing China negotiations, the early moves toward a U.S.-Japan bilateral trade deal, and the USMCA (Trump's re-negotiated NAFTA, which Congress has yet to approve).

Highlights from our conversation:

On China negotiations: "I think I would make my comment based upon what I've read in the paper, which isn't a whole lot different than what maybe he [Lighthizer] told us. Progress made on a lot of little things, but on the structural things that we want progress made on, there hasn't been much progress made. ... And a conclusion I've drawn, that doesn't necessarily come from his conversation, is so China makes an agreement. How are you going to police it?"

  • Why it matters: Trump has been touting the progress he's been making with China, but China hawks are worried he's going to let Beijing off the hook by effectively letting them purchase away their problems.
  • The risk: Instead of stopping their bad behavior — including theft of U.S. intellectual property — the Chinese government would go on a short-term shopping spree, buying U.S. products. Such a deal might temporarily stimulate the U.S. economy, and therefore be politically tempting for Trump, but it wouldn't solve any of the major long-term problems with China.

On the USMCA: Grassley reiterated that Trump should "pull out" of NAFTA if the Democrat-controlled House doesn't ratify the deal signed by the U.S., Mexico and Canada last November.

On re-engaging with Asia: Grassley said it "was a mistake" for Trump to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal with 11 other countries. He said the first step to repairing Asian trading relationships would be to "start with Japan. ... If we get a good bilateral agreement with Japan ... I'll bet it'll make up 90% of the bad things that resulted because we pulled out of TPP."

On Trump's hawkish trade adviser Peter Navarro: "He's a professor. Professors often aren't practical. ... His way, I think the practical effect would be to move forward ideologically without any concern about impact on the economy."

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Top Trump ally sounds 2020 election alarm over coronavirus response

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

There is growing concern among top conservative leaders that the Trump administration isn't addressing the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus, several sources tell Axios. One top adviser said if the recovery is bungled it could cost President Trump the election.

What we're hearing: "The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets reelected," Stephen Moore, Trump's former nominee for the Federal Reserve board, told Axios. If the administration mishandles its economic recovery efforts, he said, Trump is "in big trouble."

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,600,427 — Total deaths: 95,506 — Total recoveries: 354,006Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 465,329 — Total deaths: 16,513 — Total recoveries: 25,410Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. 2020 latest: Top conservative leaders are concerned the Trump administration isn't addressing the virus' long-term economic impact.
  6. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  7. World latest: Lockdowns have led to a decline in murders in some of the world's most violent countries — Boris Johnson is moved out of the ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  8. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  9. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return this weekend in a remotely produced episode.
  10. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

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