Oct 1, 2018

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Situational awareness: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising a Kavanaugh vote this week. Go deeper.

1 big thing: Can you pronounce USMCA?

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

It's been about 16 hours since North America agreed on a rebranded NAFTA, and we're starting to get a sense of what's actually in the deal.

Why it matters: Rather than opening another front in a broader trade war, negotiators have secured modest changes that preserve the free trade status quo in North America.

What Trump is saying: “For 25 years as a civilian, as a businessman, I used to say: How could anybody sign a deal like NAFTA?"

  • "Without tariffs, we wouldn’t be talking about a deal... Just for those babies out there that keep talking about tariffs.”

Between the lines: "[USMCA] makes a series of changes to areas like intellectual property and the digital economy, including protections for patents and domain names," the N.Y. Times' Alan Rappeport reports.

  • "[I]t's state of the art, this will be the best in the world. This will be our model going forward," Trump trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer told reporters today.

Where each side wins:

  • U.S. wins: Canada opens up its dairy market and its wine rules. More auto parts must be produced in North American factories, along with more built by labor that makes more than $16/hour. Nothing preventing future aluminum and steel tariffs. Strengthens copyright protections for U.S. creatives. Lowers border crossing duty thresholds.
  • Canada wins: Protected from U.S. auto tariffs. Long sunset clause of 16 years (U.S. wanted 5). Retained 2 of 3 NAFTA provisions allowing dispute panels with other 2 countries. 
  • Mexico wins: Protected from U.S. auto tariffs. Long sunset clause of 16 years (U.S. wanted 5).

The bottom line: If Congress signs off, NAFTA 2.0 allows Trump to enter the midterms with a major win on trade, without the pain of a trade war next door.

Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump awards the Medal of Honor to Ronald J. Shurer II during an East Room ceremony today.

  • "Shurer, a Special Forces combat medic, and his team of commandos were attacked by an enemy force of more than 200 fighters in April of 2008 in Afghanistan's Skok Valley. After sprinting through enemy fire to treat and evacuate five wounded soldiers down a shear 60-foot cliff, he then took command of his squad and headed back to the fight."
2. What you missed
  1. Trump wants a "comprehensive" FBI investigation on sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, but said he will ultimately defer to Senate Republicans. Go deeper.
  2. The White House has directed the FBI to interview any witness it deems relevant as long as the probe is wrapped up by Friday, reports the New York Times.
  3. Barack Obama announced another round of endorsements ahead of next month's midterm elections. The list.
  4. Longtime Facebook executive Adam Mosseri will lead Instagram. Go deeper.
  5. The #MeToo movement makes Donald Trump, Jr., more scared for his sons than his daughters, worrying that politically motivated claims of sexual misconduct or assault have the potential to ruin lives. Go deeper.
  6. P.S. The new anti-Kavanaugh strategy is to portray him as an angry drunk. Go deeper.
3. 1 fast thing

Japan's Aspark thinks it can get 50 people to shell out $3.6 million for a supercar that can go from 0 to 100 kilometers an hour in less than 2 seconds, Bloomberg reports.

  • "That face-flattening performance is fueled by an electric powertrain that promises to deliver a minimum 1,150 horsepower and 885 Newton meters of torque, according to an official spec sheet."
  • "The Owl will be on display at the Paris Motor Show that begins this week, and the company will start taking non-refundable €1 million deposits there. You won’t be able to test drive it for another year or so, though—the show car is basically a shell, and the test car is back at a warehouse in Japan."
Mike Allen