Mar 12, 2019

Turning Trump's trade weapons into climate tools

Representative Bill Pascrell. Photo: Michael Lofenfeld/Getty Images

Representative Bill Pascrell, a Democratic member of the House Ways & Means Committee that oversees U.S. trade policy, is expected to send a letter this week to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross asking his department to investigate whether “imports of carbon emissions” pose a national security threat.

The big picture: The largely symbolic maneuver highlights a new tactic among climate hawks: treating President Trump's aggressive use of executive powers as a template for action.

Details: Pascrell's request cites the authority granted under Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act, which Trump availed himself of to justify the imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from a variety of countries, including key U.S. allies.

Other global attempts to tie climate to trade policy, such as the EU's resolution to “make ratification and implementation of the Paris Agreement a condition for future trade agreements,” have been abandoned amid the exigencies of negotiating an agreement with the U.S. that would avoid damaging tariffs on European automobiles.

Why it matters: This isn't the first, nor will it be the last, such maneuver. Trump's declaration of a "national emergency" to fund a wall along the Southern border could set a precedent for a similar declaration around climate change.

  • A president acting on those grounds could fall back on nearly 150 special powers, including the suspension of some domestic oil drilling and the imposition of sanctions on fossil fuel–producing countries, regardless of whether such drastic actions are advisable.

David Livingston is the lead for climate and advanced energy and deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center.

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Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to keep his momentum after winning contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hopes to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates are just trying to hang on.What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination are in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They're talking about health care, Russian interference in the election, the economy, gun control, marijuana, education, and race. chevronGo deeper# of Words

  • Of note: Within two debates, Michael Bloomberg has emerged as a lightning rod for candidates hungry to distinguish themselves as challengers to President Trump, the other New York City billionaire in this race. A third billionaire, Tom Steyer, returns to the debate stage after a bye in Nevada.
Foreign policy

What they're saying:

  • Bloomberg and Biden said they would not allow Chinese firms to build critical U.S. infrastructure.
  • Bloomberg advocating for placing U.S. troops overseas to combat terrorism.
  • Buttigieg, in response: "I don't think we need to have ground troops anywhere terrorists can gather because terrorists can gather everywhere in the world."
  • Klobuchar did not say whether she would close the border to Americans who have been exposed to the coronavirus. On North Korea she said she would meet with leader Kim Jong-un, "but I would do it with our allies."
  • Biden touted his experience dealing with the Ebola outbreak: "I was part of making sure that pandemic did not get to the United States."
  • Steyer: "If you look at the biggest threats to the United States, we're talking right now about coronavirus that cannot be solved within the borders of the United States, we're talking about climate change which is a global problem where we need U.S. leadership for countries around the world."
  • Warren, on moving the U.S. Embassy from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv: "We should let the parties determine the capitals themselves."
  • Sanders: U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East should focus on "absolutely protecting the independence and security of Israel but you can not ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people.”

Catch up quick: Biden's foreign policy centers around restoring America's global leadership and alliances, while Sanders is more likely to condemn American imperialism and Warren contends that America has hurt itself by promoting globalization, Axios' Dave Lawler writes on top Democrats' plans for foreign affairs.

Russian interference in U.S. elections

What they're saying:

  • Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg: "The Russians want chaos."
  • Sanders: "Putin, if I'm president of the United States, you're not going to interfere in any elections."
  • Biden: "The fact of the matter is we didn't have the information in the end," he said,of the 2016 election. The Obama administration theoretically could have done more to respond to reports of Russia interfering in the 2016 election, he added, advocating for imposing sanctions on Russia now.

Catch up quick: Sanders told reporters at a campaign stop last week that he was briefed by U.S. officials "about a month ago" on Russia's attempts to assist his 2020 presidential campaign, AP reports. "It was not clear what role they were going to play," he added.

Marijuana

What they're saying:

  • "You're not going to take it away," Bloomberg said on states that have already legalized marijuana — but he insisted that with kids in their late teens, "it may be damaging their brains."
  • Sanders would "legalize marijuana in every state in the country" and help African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos "to start businesses to sell legal marijuana."
Education

What they're saying:

  • Warren: "My secretary of education will be someone who has taught in public schools," she said. "People across this country are being crushed by student loan debt."
  • Sanders pledged to "triple funding for low-income Title 1 schools, make public colleges and universities tuition-free" and improve teachers' wages.
  • Buttigieg: "We don't have an adequate mental health system to support kids," he said, also denouncing that teachers are expected to "somehow transform themselves into highly armed guards" in school shooting situations.

Catch up quick: Buttigieg supports free tuition at four-year public colleges for families earning up to $100,000. Biden has proposed a $750-billion plan to provide free tuition for community and technical college only, and Warren has pitched a $640-billion plan for public and private student-loan-debt cancellation.

Race

What they're saying:

  • Buttigieg said that Bloomberg's stop-and-frisk policy was "in effect" racist.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar agreed.
  • Buttigieg: "I’m conscious of the fact that there’s seven white people on this stage talking about racial justice."
  • Warren: "We can no longer pretend that everything is race-neutral," she said on creating affordable housing. "It is important to recognize the role the federal government played for decades and decades in discrimination against African Americans having an opportunity to buy homes."
  • Biden said he would "go after people" causing gentrification. "We've got to deal with the institutional racism."
  • Steyer said he believes he is the only person on-stage who supports reparations.

Catch up quick: The retired U.S. District Court judge who ruled in 2013 that New York's stop-and-frisk policy violated the rights of people of color refuted Bloomberg's statements during the last debate.

Gun control

What they're saying:

  • Biden, on Sanders's vote for a 2005 bill that shields gun makers and sellers from lawsuits: "That has caused carnage on our streets,"
  • Buttigieg: "A second school shooting generation has now been produced," adding that the weaponry he trained to use for war has "no business" being sold near U.S. schools or businesses.
  • Warren emphasized that pushing gun safety legislation relies on rolling back the filibuster.

Catch up quick: A chronic lack of gun violence research and data inaccuracies have hindered change to gun laws in the U.S. Mass shootings are also becoming deadlier: 10 years ago the deadliest shooting left 16 people dead; in 2017 a shooting at a Las Vegas hotel killed 59.

Health care

What they're saying:

  • Sanders, when asked to do the math to pay for Medicare for All's major components: "How many hours do you have?"
  • Biden: "That's the problem."
  • The candidates all jumped in, talking over each other to denounce the plan's cost.

Catch up quick: The Urban Institute, a nonpartisan Washington think tank, estimates the cost of Medicare for All to be between $32 trillion to $34 trillion over the first 10 years.

Economy

What they're saying:

  • Sanders, on how he would convince voters that a Democratic socialist can do better than President Trump with the economy: "Well, you're right. The economy is doing really great for people like Mr. Bloomberg and other billionaires."

Catch up quick: Trump claims to have revolutionized the U.S. economy as the job market expands. But, prospective homeowners are finding it harder to find houses, and if federal debt continues to grow at its current pace, incomes will drop and interest payments to foreign debt holders will increase.Go deeper: What to watch in tonight's Democratic debate

Coronavirus spreads to Africa as U.S. soldier in South Korea tests positive

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

A 23-year-old American soldier stationed at Camp Carroll in South Korea has tested positive to the novel coronavirus, as the outbreak spreads to more countries.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 80,000 others, mostly in mainland China. Public health officials confirmed Tuesday the U.S. has 57 people with the novel coronavirus, mostly those repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

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Bloomberg denies telling a pregnant employee to "kill it"

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the debate stage Tuesday denied telling a former employee to terminate her pregnancy.

Catch up quick: Per the Washington Post, a former saleswoman has alleged workplace discrimination against Bloomberg and his company and says Bloomberg told her to "kill it" when he learned she was pregnant. Bloomberg denied the allegation under oath and entered a confidential settlement with the woman.