A Reckoning for Trump

Wednesday, July 5, 2017Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 8.18.01 AM

Good Wednesday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • The Trump administration confirmed North Korea’s claim that it had launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, and it told Pyongyang that the United States would use “the full range of capabilities at our disposal against the growing threat.”
  • President Trump’s warnings to North Korea on its missile program have bumped up against reality: American policy has had little effect so far as Pyongyang built up its arsenal. A North Korean ability to reach the United States, as William J. Perry, a former defense secretary, said, “changes every calculus.”
  • Independence Day parades are normally a fat pitch down the middle for politicians. But this year, with voters angry over health care, many Republicans stayed away.
  • After backing Mr. Trump, some Iraqi Christians who fled persecution and worse could be deported as part of the president’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
  • downturn in car sales after two record years is prompting companies to scale back domestic production, particularly for smaller vehicles.
 The First Draft Team
The Upshot

Confidence Boomed After the Election. The Economy Hasn’t.

By NEIL IRWIN
After Donald J. Trump won the presidential election, Americans’ optimism about the economic future soared. But midway through the year, that optimism has not translated into concrete economic gains.
This seeming contradiction exposes a reality about the role of psychology in economics — or more specifically, how psychology is connected only loosely to actual growth. It will take more than feelings to fix the sluggishness that has been evident in the United States and other major economies for years. Confidence isn’t some magic elixir for the economy: Businesses will hire and invest only when they see concrete evidence of demand for their products, and consumers intensify their spending only when their incomes justify it.
The sharp rise in economic optimism after the election came through no matter how the question was asked or who answered, whether the survey was intended to capture consumer confidence or consumer comfort or consumer sentiment. It was true in surveys of small-business owners and of C.E.O.s of some of the biggest companies in the world. And the rise during the winter months in these surveys has mostly been sustained in the months since.
But the economy is plodding along at the same modest rate it has for the last eight years nonetheless — at least when you look at “hard” data around economic activity instead of “soft” data like surveys, as analysts put it.
President Trump said on Twitter on Sunday that the stock market was at an “all-time high” and that unemployment was at its lowest level in years, both of which are true (he added that wages would start going up, which is certainly possible).
But in overall measures of economic activity, the expansion looks much as it has for years, with steady growth of around 2 percent. The Trump economy so far looks an awful lot like the Obama economy.
Read more »
The Coast Guard cutters Stratton, left, and Munro, docked at Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif.

Coast Guard Faces Challenges at Sea, and at the Budget Office

By RON NIXON

Halting drugs is becoming increasingly difficult for the Coast Guard, which has operated with flat budgets even as its mission has expanded.

Mahmoud Esmaeili, a software engineer from Iran, took part in a naturalization ceremony at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s historic home in Virginia, on Tuesday. “I want to cry,” he said. “I feel like, wow, my dream has come true and I’m a real American now.”

‘I’m a Real American Now’: New Citizens Take the Oath, Trump in Mind

By AVANTIKA CHILKOTI

One hundred immigrants, including some from countries targeted in the president’s travel ban, celebrated their new citizenship in a ceremony tinged with mixed emotions.

Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois, center, with the state’s Republican legislative leaders, Senator Christine Radogno and Representative Jim Durkin, at the Capitol in May. On Thursday, Ms. Radogno abruptly resigned.

Illinois Moves a Step Closer to Ending Its Budget Deadlock

By JULIE BOSMAN AND MONICA DAVEY

The Illinois Senate voted to override the governor’s veto of a budget deal that raises taxes in an attempt to end an impasse that has imperiled the state’s fiscal future.

Steel pipe destined for export at the port of Lianyungang, China, in May.
ECONOMIC SCENE

Trump’s Trade Choice: Follow the Postwar Order or Blow It Up

By EDUARDO PORTER

In acting on his protectionist campaign pledges, the president could play by multilateral rules or seek bilateral deals and invite retaliation.

WHITE COLLAR WATCH

What Constitutes Obstruction? A Tax Case May Narrow the Definition

By PETER J. HENNING

The Supreme Court, which has been critical of white-collar prosecutions brought under broad provisions, has agreed to review the conviction of New York State businessman.

Photographers and journalists looking at the new Lexus LS during a news conference in Tokyo last week. The trade deal between the European Union and Japan would eliminate a 10 percent duty that the European bloc imposes on Japanese car imports, while removing obstacles that European automakers face in Japan.

E.U. to Unveil Outline of Trade Deal with Japan on Eve of Trump Visit

By JACK EWING AND JONATHAN SOBLE

The European Union said that political agreement on trade terms would be announced on Thursday, the day before Group of 20 leaders gather in Germany.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
• Jonah Goldberg in National Review:
“Heads will turn your way if you pour a bowl of hot soup in your lap. And if turning heads is your metric of success, well, voila.”
Mr. Goldberg describes the relationship between President Trump and the news media as codependent, arguing that no one relishes the president’s crude tweets more than the very object of his scorn. And as for whether the president is acting presidential, Mr. Goldberg explains that Mr. Trump has “literalness […] on his side”; whatever the president does, is by definition, presidential. Read more »
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From the Left
• Frank Rich in New York Magazine:
“The news value of last week’s tweets should not be underestimated.”
Mr. Rich doesn’t believe that the president’s comments on Twitter are a sophisticated strategy to distract from a week of bad policy news. “The tweets are news in themselves,” he writes, and they demonstrate a “new level of Trump mental instability.” The news media has an obligation to cover them; in the case of the supposed blackmail effort to use the National Enquirer as a “cudgel” against the television hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, news outlets have an obligation to follow up. Read more »
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