Posted by DanielS on Friday, 30 December 2016 04:07.
Tory MP Philip Hollobone said: “Migration Watch’s forecasts have always been thoroughly reliable.”
Express, “BREXIT WARNING: 12 MILLION more migrants to arrive in UK in 25 years without hard Brexit”, 29 Dec 2016:
MASS immigration will continue at “unacceptable” levels for at least two decades unless Britain makes a full break with Brussels, a report predicted last night.
Figures showed that annual net migration to the UK from EU countries would be unlikely to fall below 155,000 in the “medium term” if the country stays in the EU’s Single Market.
And the Government’s ability to reduce the influx will be “extremely limited” as long as the EU’s free movement rules remain in force.
The disturbing forecast of near-record levels of migration for years ahead was set out in a report from the population think tank Migration Watch. It was being seen last night as a devastating blow to campaigners for a so-called “soft Brexit” that retain the UK’s full Single Market membership.
“An increase of anything like 12 million in just 25 years is, quite simply, unacceptable to the British public and certainly not what they voted for in the referendum.”
Tory MP Philip Hollobone said: “Migration Watch’s forecasts have always been thoroughly reliable and are the best we are going to get from anyone.
“The picture they paint is completely unacceptable.
“We simply can’t stay in the Single Market if it means we are going to get that sort of level of immigration.
“Above all, people voted in the referendum for a change in our approach to immigration.”
“Total net immigration will add 12 million people to the population in just 25 years, more than the equivalent of the entire current populations of Bulgaria and New Zealand.”
He added: “Theresa May needs to set out in no uncertain terms that when the UK leaves the EU it will also cease to be a member of the Single Market.
Rex Tillerson, the businessman picked by Donald Trump to be the next US secretary of state, is the long-time director of a US-Russian oil firm based in the tax haven of the Bahamas, leaked documents show.
Tillerson – the chief executive of ExxonMobil – has been a director of the oil company’s Russian subsidiary, Exxon Neftegas, since 1998. His name – RW Tillerson – appears next to other officers who are based at Houston in Texas; Moscow; and Sakhalin, in Russia’s remote Far East.
The leaked 2001 document comes from the corporate registry in the Bahamas. It was one of 1.3m files given to Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung by an anonymous source. The registry is public but details of individual directors are typically incomplete or missing entirely.
Though there is nothing untoward about this directorship, it has not been reported before and is likely to raise fresh questions over Tillerson’s relationship with Russia ahead of a potentially stormy confirmation hearing by the US senate foreign relations committee.
ExxonMobil’s use of offshore regimes – while legal – may also jar with Trump’s avowal to put “America first”.
Tillerson’s critics say he is too close to president Vladimir Putin – and that his appointment could raise potential conflicts of interest.
ExxonMobil is the world’s largest oil company and has for a long time been eyeing Russia’s vast oil and gas deposits. Tillerson currently has Exxon stock worth more than $200m.
Since his nomination, Tillerson’s Russia ties have become a source of bipartisan concern. In 2013 Vladimir Putin awarded him the Russian Order of Friendship. Tillerson is close to Igor Sechin, the head of Russian state oil giant Rosneft and the de facto second most powerful figure inside the Kremlin. A hardliner, Sechin is ex-KGB.
It was put on hold in 2014 after the Obama administration imposed wide-ranging sanctions against Russia. The sanctions were punishment for Putin’s Crimea annexation that spring and Russia’s undercover invasion of eastern Ukraine.
The ban covers the US sharing of sophisticated offshore and shale oil technology. Exxon was supposed to halt its drilling with Rosneft. The firm successfully pleaded with the US Treasury department to delay the ban by a few weeks, with the Kremlin threatening to seize its rig. In this brief window Exxon discovered a major Arctic field with some 750m barrels of new oil.
Tillerson has criticised the US government’s policy on Russia. In 2014 he told Exxon’s annual meeting that “we do not support sanctions”. He added: “We always encourage the people who are making those decisions to consider the very broad collateral damage of who they are really harming.”
It is widely assumed by investors that the new Trump administration will drop sanctions. This would allow the Kara joint venture to resume, boosting Exxon’s share price and yielding potential profits in the tens of billions of dollars. According to company records, Tillerson currently owns $218m of stock. His Exxon pension is worth about $70m.
The senate foreign relations committee is currently split 10 to 9 between Republicans and Democrats. But several heavyweight Republicans, including John McCain, have raised doubts about Tillerson’s nomination and his lack of experience to be America’s top diplomat after four decades spent exclusively in the oil industry.
Republican senator Marco Rubio – who sits on the committee – said on Tuesday that he had “serious concerns” about giving Tillerson the job. Rubio praised him as a “respected businessman” but said that the next secretary of state “must be someone who views the world with moral clarity [and who] has a clear sense of America’s interests”.
Tillerson is likely to get rid of his Exxon stock if the narrowly Republican-majority Senate confirms his appointment.
Today’s revelation sheds light on the use by multinational companies of contrived offshore structures, now under scrutiny following April’s massive Panama Papers leak.
Exxon Neftegas’s most important oil and gas project is Sakhalin-1. It is located in the sub-Arctic, off the frozen and difficult-to-access north-east coast of Russia’s Sakhalin island. This is 10,700km (6,650m) away from the subsidiary’s official business home in Nassau, the warm semi-tropical capital of the Bahamas. The Bahamas is notorious for secrecy. It has a corporate tax rate of zero.
The documents from the Bahamas corporate registry were shared by Süddeutsche Zeitung with the Guardian and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington DC. They show that Exxon registered at least 67 companies in the secretive tax haven, covering operations in countries from Russia to Venezuela to Azerbaijan.
Exxon Neftegas features in about 25 leaked offshore documents. The oil firm was incorporated in 1998 by a law firm in Nassau, Higgs & Johnson. Another veteran law firm, Lobosky Management Ltd, subsequently took over as registered agent. Company secretary Sophia Kishinevsky signed the paperwork and made annual filings.
Exxon said it had no comment on whether Tillerson should now divest his Exxon holdings and resign from his positions with all Exxon entities. It said the oil firm had incorporated some of its affiliates in the Bahamas because of “simplicity and predictability”.
“It is not done to reduce tax in the country where the company operates,” Exxon said. It added: “Incorporation of a company in the Bahamas does not decrease ExxonMobil’s tax liability in the country where the entity generates its income.”
The firm was one of the largest taxpayers in the world, with an effective global tax rate in 2015 of 34%, it said. Its effective tax rate over the past three years – 2013, 2014, 2015 – was 43%, it added. This compared favourably with other Fortune 100 companies which “have substantially lower effective tax rates than ExxonMobil”.
And if you think that’s interesting, there will be more later.
Posted by DanielS on Wednesday, 14 December 2016 14:46.
Bloomberg, “Dollar Rises, Treasuries Fall With Stocks as Fed Raises Rates”, 14 Dec 2016:
- FOMC lift interest rates for only second time since 2006
- Officials signal steeper path for borrowing costs in 2017
The dollar rose and two-year Treasury yields reached the highest in seven years as the Federal Reserve signaled a steeper path for borrowing costs in 2017 after raising rates for the first time this year.Stocks pared declines as Chair Janet Yellen said changes in rate projections were ‘very modest.’
“The bottom line is that this is more hawkish than the markets expected,” said Dennis Debusschere, a senior managing director and global portfolio strategist at Evercore ISI in New York. “I don’t think the shift higher in the dots was priced in. The consensus going in was that they’d wait until they had details of the fiscal program before they actually raised the rate forecast, and they did that before they saw the details.”
The Fed’s path to tighter monetary policy has been delayed throughout 2016, as first instability in Chinese markets, then the shock votes for Brexit and Trump, put policy makers on the defensive. After Wednesday, traders see a two-in-three chance of additional rate increases from the Fed by June, futures show.
Posted by DanielS on Monday, 12 December 2016 06:23.
Update: New York Times, “Trump Picks Rex Tillerson, Exxon C.E.O., as Secretary of State”, 12 Dec 2016:
WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump on Monday settled on Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, to be his secretary of state, dismissing bipartisan concerns that the globe-trotting leader of the energy giant had forged a too-cozy relationship with Vladimir V. Putin, the president of Russia, transition officials said.
Mr. Trump planned to announce the selection on Tuesday morning, finally bringing to an end his public and chaotic deliberations over choosing the nation’s top diplomat — a process that at times veered from rewarding Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of his most loyal supporters, to musing about whether Mitt Romney, one of his most vicious critics, might be forgiven.
Russia’s Prime Minister Putin speaks with Tillerson in Sochi in 2011
President-Elect Trump ‘will name Exxon CEO with close links to Putin as his secretary of state’, snubbing Mitt Romney.”
Trump is expected to name Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.
Exxon Mobil chief emerged on Friday as the leading candidate.
Favored status was revealed as Giuliani withdrew.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is expected to name the chief executive of Exxon Mobil as the country’s top diplomat, NBC News reported Saturday.
Exxon chief Rex Tillerson emerged on Friday as Trump’s leading candidate for U.S. secretary of state and is expected to meet with him later on Saturday, a transition official told Reuters.
NBC News cited two sources close to the transition team in reporting that Tillerson will be named as secretary of state.
The president-elect had interviewed 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney twice – taking him to a three-Michelin starred dinner on one of those occasions.
Should Tillerson be nominated, his business ties, too, will come under scrutiny. Exxon Mobil has operations in more than 50 countries and boasts that it explores for oil and natural gas on six continents.
In 2011, Exxon Mobil signed a deal with Rosneft, Russia’s largest state-owned oil company, for joint oil exploration and production. Since then, the companies have formed 10 joint ventures for projects in Russia.
In 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Tillerson his nation’s Order of Friendship.
‘He has had more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American with the exception of Henry Kissinger,’ John Hamre, a deputy defense secretary to Bill Clinton told the Wall Street Journal.
But U.S. sanctions against Russia for its incursion into Crimea cost Exxon Mobil dearly, forcing it to scrap some projects and costing it at least $1 billion in losses. Tillerson has been a vocal critic of the sanctions.
Trump has spoken of wanting warmer relations with Moscow, which has sparked concerns in Congress that he could lift or loosen some of the sanctions on Russia.
Tillerson has been chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil since 2006. He is expected to retire from the company next year.
Should Tillerson be nominated, climate change could be another divisive issue. The company is under investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office for allegedly misleading investors, regulators and the public on what it knew about global warming.
Breitbart, “Germany: Nearly 40 Per Cent of Under Fives Now ‘Migrant Background’, 21 Sept. 2016:
Following the release of figures which reveal almost four in ten children under five have foreign roots, Michael Paulwitz says the demographic change will be the death of Germany’s welfare state.
The journalist and historian predicts that “hard struggles” over resources will take place when ethnic Germans are a minority, and that native Germans “will inevitably lose out”.
Mr Paulwitz’ article follows the release on Friday of official figures from the Federal Statistics Office. While they show 21 per cent of the total population currently have a migrant background he notes that such people are disproportionately represented in the younger age cohorts.
One in three people aged under 18 who are resident in Germany have foreign roots, and the number jumps to 36 per cent among people under five.
This, he ominously points out, “allows one to appreciate where [Germany] is headed”. Mr Paulwitz points to the demographics of Berlin, where people with a migration background comprise 30 per cent of residents.
Mr Paulwitz also mentions that ethnic Germans are already minority in the district centre and many of the surrounding central districts.
With these trends in mind, he observes: “First in the cities, later throughout the country, ethnic Germans are to become a minority in their own city and in their own country.
“Will Germany still be, in the coming years and decades, the land of the Germans when immigration of people from non-European cultures continues at a high level?” Mr Paulwitz asks.
The historian writes that “one does not need much imagination to imagine how profoundly the population picture will change within the next two decades”.
He calls attention to the fact that in this timeframe many current pensioners will die and that the, mainly German lineage, cohort of 45 to 65 year olds — those “at the peak of their working lives” with regards to paying taxes — will have withdrawn from the workforce.
The demographic statistics for this year also show that people with foreign roots are twice as likely to be unemployed than Germans and are significantly more likely to have been educated to only a lower secondary school level, or have no education background at all.
Mr Paulwitz writes: “The social and redistributive state as we know it will no longer be affordable at its present level when the population is no longer dominated by ethnic Germans, and is a multicultural population mix.”
Collected in mid 2015, the Federal Statistics Office data fails to reflect the more than 1.6 million migrants who arrived in 2015 and the first half of 2016, or the huge number of estimated illegal immigrants living in Germany.
Mr Paulwitz points out that while Angela Merkel’s open door policy was a “dramatic escalation” of previous policies, even before she “opened the lock” a quarter of people aged between 15 and 45 had foreign roots in 2014.
He contends that these demographic trends can only increase as, “through family reunification, this number [1.6 million] is expected to at least double if not multiply”.
Furthermore he observes there is an “inexhaustible supply” of Arabs and Africans who want to move to Germany. The historian typifies them as “second, third and fourth sons” of families, who are “demanding” but “lack the education or drive to create their own wealth”.
Taking all of this into account, Mr Paulwitz diagnoses a grim future for Germany and its native population. He forecasts “hard struggles over resources will be the result” and contends that ethnic Germans are “pacified” and “ageing”.
Considering the huge number of people with foreign roots already present, their far higher fertility rate and no sign of an end to the country’s policy of importing hundreds of thousands of migrants a year, Mr Paulwitz says indigenous Germans “will inevitably lose out”. He also foresees that “the sexual assaults, a result of the surplus men imported, will increase”.
Mr Paulwitz concludes: “A government that decides to change the ethnic and cultural structure of the country without asking its people violates the principle of popular sovereignty, constitutional lawyer Dietrich Murswiek has said … It’s surprising that citizens have begun to fight it at the ballot, but more surprising is that so few are doing so.”
Posted by DanielS on Wednesday, 30 November 2016 05:51.
As Trump shows his right wing and Jewish-collaborative colors the dubiousness of White Nationalist support is highlighted.
Mnuchin led the 2009 mortgage bailout of failed subprime mortgage lender IndyMac, now known as One West - the bank received 900 million in federal bail-out money.
Minuchin helped back the construction of Trump International Hotel in Chicago. Trump later sued him to secure more favorable terms.
Minuchin also has interests in the film industry.
Minuchin donated to both Republicans and Democrats in the past, including to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Washington Post, “Trump expected to name financier Steve Mnuchin to Treasury”, 29 Nov 2016:
President-elect Donald Trump is planning to name investor and former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary, opting for an industry insider with no government experience to helm the agency in charge of the nation’s finances, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mnuchin (pronounced mah-NEW-chin) joined Trump’s whirlwind campaign in May as finance chairman, despite the fact that he had never worked in politics and that he had donated to Democrats in the past. He quickly earned Trump’s trust as he worked closely with the Republican National Committee to raise substantial amounts of money in a short period. On policy issues, he was instrumental in crafting the details of Trump’s proposal to overhaul the tax code.
“He’s an expert on finance issues,” said Stephen Moore, who worked with Mnuchin as an adviser to the president-elect on the campaign trail. “He clearly, like Donald Trump, understands that the number one goal for this administration is going to be to grow the economy and get jobs.”
The president-elect scored an early victory Tuesday night when air-conditioning manufacturer Carrier announced that it would reverse plans to move one of its factories from Indiana to Mexico. The company, which is owned by United Technologies, said about 1,000 U.S. jobs would be preserved.
Trump’s tough talk on trade during his campaign helped cement his populist appeal. But Trump — a real estate developer famous for his flashy style — appears to be staffing his Cabinet with advisers who also have amassed extraordinary wealth. Trump is expected to nominate industrialist billionaire Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department, and Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos was named as Trump’s pick for education secretary last week.
Wallsreet Journal, “Treasury Pick Steven Mnuchin Bet on Donald Trump and Won”, 29 Nov 2016:
Posted by DanielS on Thursday, 17 November 2016 00:01.
DAILYKENN.com—Donald Trump has promised to provide vouchers to inner city children, allowing them to attend high-quality private schools rather than being locked in to government schools dominated by teachers’ unions.
President-elect Donald Trump. (AP)
(CNSNews.com) - Trump’s Education Plan: School Choice for ‘Every Single Inner City Child in America”, 11 Nov 2016:
As presented on the campaign trail and detailed on the Trump-Pence website, President–elect Donald Trump wants to implement school choice programs in all 50 states that will allow students and their parents to pick the school that works best for them, and the money to pay for it will follow the student, not the school bureaucracy.
“If we can put a man on the moon, dig out the Panama Canal, and win two World Wars, then I have no doubt that we, as a nation, can provide school choice to every disadvantaged child in America,” said Trump in a Sept. 8 speech in Cleveland, Ohio.
The proposal calls for using $20 billion in federal funds to incentivize the states to start (or expand their existing) school choice programs.
From there, “if the states collectively contribute $110 billion of their own education budgets toward school choice,” said Trump, “on top of the $20 billion in federal dollars, that could provide $12,000 in school choice funds to every K-12 student who today lives in poverty.”
“The money will follow the student,” he said. “That means the student will be able to attend the public, private, charter, or magnet school of their choice – and each state will develop its own system that works for them.” Trump reportedly has added home schools to the proposal.
There are a some school choice programs in the United States, but they are limited and vary widely in terms of which schools a student may choose; who is eligible to participate; how many students may participate; and how much funding is available for each program.
For example, California does not offer private school choice, but it allows intra-district and inter-district open enrollment at its public schools, reports the Heritage Foundation. Texas offers the same as California. Virginia does not allow private school choice or public school choice and it has “weak charter school laws, reported Heritage.
In his speech, Trump emphasized the need to help American students in the inner cites to be offered the opportunity to pick their school, which will help them to get on the ladder to success.
“We are one nation, and when any part of our country hurts, our whole country hurts,” said Trump. “My goal as president will be to ensure that every child in the nation – African-American, Hispanic-American, all Americans – will be placed on the ladder of success: a great education, a great job.”
“The Democratic Party has trapped millions of African-American and Hispanic youth in failing government schools that deny them the opportunity to join the ladder of American success,” he said. “It is time to break up that monopoly.”
“I want every single inner-city child in America who is today trapped in a failing school to have the freedom – the civil right – to attend the school of their choice,” said Trump. “Our government spends more than enough money to easily pay for this initiative, with billions left over. It’s simply a matter of putting students first, not the education bureaucracy.”
He then explained that the United States, at the state and federal levels, spends approximately $620 billion on K-12 education each year. (The federal government kicks in $64 billion and states provide about $570 billion.) That averages to $12,296 for every student.
Chicago, for instance, spends about $11,976 per student, said Trump, and Los Angeles spends about $10,602. New York City spends $20,226 per student.
By offering $20 billion more in federal funds to encourage states to participate in school choice – to establish (or expand) their own programs for their citizens – “it would create a massive education market that is competitive and produces better outcomes,” said Trump. (Currently, only about $1.9 billion is spent on school choice programs nationwide.)
The $20 billion would be allocated to states that “have private school choice and charter laws, encouraging them to participate,” said Trump.
“These schools would then cater to the needs of the individual student and family, not the needs of the Teachers’ Union,” he said. “But the $20 billion is only the beginning,” said Trump. “As president, I will establish the national goal of providing school choice to every American child living in poverty…. Each state will develop its own formula, but we want the dollars to follow the student.”
“I will use the pulpit of the presidency to campaign for this in all 50 states,” he said, “and I will call upon the American people to elect officials at the city, state and federal level who support school choice.”
Way to go White Trump voters!
Trump, ever “the advocate of White working people,” has determined that it is teacher’s unions and the capacity for educators to be discriminatory (by the de facto means in this case, of pricing out the pattern) of black menace to White school children, that is the problem - not the blacks: Donald is all for this group of Americans: in fact, it is the only racial/ethnic group that he explicitly supports.
Posted by DanielS on Wednesday, 16 November 2016 02:24.
NPR, “Could Trump ‘Undermine The Legacy Of The Obama Presidency’ With The Stroke Of A Pen?” 15 Nov 2016:
New Yorker writer Evan Osnos talks about the executive orders and other actions that Trump can use to undo existing agreements on climate change, immigration and foreign policy.
DAVE DAVIES, BYLINE: Well, Evan Osnos, welcome back to FRESH AIR. How reliable are campaign promises as a predictor of a president’s agenda in office, and will Trump be different?
EVAN OSNOS: I assumed that, like, I think like a lot of Americans, that campaign promises are not very valuable in terms of actually predicting the course of a presidency. We - you know, we tend to remember when campaigns say things that they don’t then fulfill. But actually, the political science on this is pretty clear, and it tells a very different story, which is that if you go back over the history of the presidency, you find that presidents tend to achieve the majority - the overwhelming majority of the things that they set out to accomplish when they were candidates.
DAVIES: Now, when people look at Donald Trump, some would say it’s not clear that he has any deeply held political beliefs. I mean, he used to be pro-choice. He used to be a Democrat. He’s kind of been all over the place over the course of his business career, and a lot of what he says seems kind of improvised, but we have some clues. I mean, there are two big appointments just announced. The Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, will be Trump’s chief of staff, and at the same time, his campaign CEO, Steve Bannon, who is from the right wing Breitbart News, will be a senior adviser with equal status to Reince Priebus. What does this tell us about Trump’s likely agenda?
OSNOS: Right. Well, I think a lot of us were very wary of the idea that Trump as president would actually do a lot of the things that he said as a candidate partly because he was, you know, obviously from way outside the mainstream and - of previous presidents. So perhaps the political science was useless. But there are a couple of things that I think are important to keep in mind. One is that the appointment of Steve Bannon as chief strategist and a counselor to the president is an extension of something that was very clear when this piece was written, which was that Donald Trump will move around on a lot of issues. He’s fluid, for instance, on what he would do on the technical basis of an H-1B visa, for instance, or whether or not he would allow school teachers to carry guns in the classroom.
But on three core ideas, he has stayed completely consistent. One of them is his belief that the United States is fundamentally being damaged by immigration. Number two is his belief that trade deals have done more damage to the United States than they have helped. And number three is his belief that the United States does too much for the world. As he said in 2015, I want to take back everything that the United States has given the world.
Steve Bannon, in his career at Breitbart, really transformed that organization into the principal exponent of those three ideas. So what you see today is Donald Trump is trying to balance the strategic objectives that his campaign road to victory in the form of Steve Bannon with the practical necessity of how do you actually operate within Washington. And for that, Reince Priebus, the new chief of staff, is the ultimate Washington professional. He has been here for his professional life. He has really risen to the top ranks of the Republican establishment, and he’s now in the position to be able to try to help Donald Trump achieve his objectives.
DAVIES: You know, there’s a point of view that says, yeah, ideologues can have their say, but it’s the chief of staff who controls the president’s schedule that really moves the levers of power. Do you have an opinion about whether one will be more important than the other?
OSNOS: I think if you look at the way that those two roles have been used in recent history, you find that they are both important, and in many ways, that’s the design here. Steve Bannon has called Breitbart, which was his media organization, quote, “the platform of the alt right,” unquote. And that is the previously fringe movement on the conservative far-right edge, which was founded by Richard Spencer who lives in Montana and believes in the separation of the races. And that has now moved sort of further into the mainstream as a result of Steve Bannon’s rise within the Trump campaign and now his installation in the White House. But in order to get those ideas accomplished, you need somebody who really is just as skilled as anyone in sort of managing the levers of inside power in Washington, and that’s where Reince Priebus comes in.
DAVIES: OK, I want to talk about some of the areas of policy that will matter here. And we’ll try and figure out, you know, what Trump has said, what he believes, what he is really committed to and what he can actually accomplish by himself and what he needs congressional action for. One thing that people have talked about is that President Obama has done a lot with executive orders because of the gridlock in Congress and that President Trump, once he is inaugurated, can immediately undo a bunch of stuff simply by signing executive orders, repealing President Obama’s initiatives. Is that true?
OSNOS: Yeah, that’s true, and that’s an explicit part of the incoming Trump administration’s plan. Campaign advisers described it to me as a first-day project, by which they meant that on the first day or within a few days Donald Trump would seek to sign as many as 25 executive orders, or uses of executive power in other forms, that would, in the words of one adviser, erase the Obama presidency.
I should point out that every president when they come in uses executive powers in one form or another. Barack Obama, for instance, signed nine executive orders in the first 10 days. Doing 25 would be ambitious. People who have been through transitions before tell me that’s not realistic. But he could do several things that would significantly undermine the legacy of the Obama presidency. His team has talked about this since Election Day, that one of the things that’s important to them is to restart exploration of the Keystone Pipeline.
They will significantly expand the pace and intensity of deportations. They will seek to, if not formally remove the United States from the Paris climate agreement, then they will be able to take steps that basically undermine it so they can make sure the United States is not enforcing restrictions on carbon output. They can restrict funding and so on. So they can do things right away with the stroke of a pen that would pretty significantly undermine the legacy of the Obama presidency.
DAVIES: Is there some fine print here? I mean, I believe I’ve read that when some executive orders have gone past the rulemaking stage…
OSNOS: That’s right.
DAVIES: ...There’s a process. What does that mean?
OSNOS: Yeah, that’s right. The hyperbole in saying that they would undermine the Obama presidency is that once an executive order has gone beyond what’s known as the rulemaking stage, then that means that in order to undo it there has to be, for instance, a period of public comment. There has to be other bureaucratic steps. And that can take as much as a year or more depending on how efficiently the bureaucracy goes about it. And that’s meaningful because I think the question of how civil servants will interpret efforts to try to undermine previous initiatives matters. But the relevant point is that by issuing the executive order the clock on that process begins.
DAVIES: OK. Well, let’s look at some specific policy areas and figure out what might happen. Let’s start with climate change. You just mentioned that. Do we - what do we know about his views on climate change and the extent to which he is committed to them based on his appointments so far?
OSNOS: Well, as a candidate and before, Donald Trump has expressed a lot of skepticism about climate change. He’s called it a hoax. At one point, he described it as a hoax that was perpetrated by the Chinese in order to try to undermine American competitiveness. He later said that was a joke. Since Election Day, some of the appointments that he’s made have made clear that he’s going to make good on his belief that American energy policy and attempts to combat climate change are going in the wrong direction. So, for instance, Donald Trump’s transition team for the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency is run by somebody named Myron Ebell who has been really one of the most outspoken skeptics of climate change, runs a program here called the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and it opposes regulation. It’s not clear exactly who funds it, but in the past, it was funded by fossil fuel companies including Exxon Mobil and others.
So this would be, I think, safe to say a radical change in the way the United States has talked and thought about climate change. One of the people that he has also indicated could be powerful in terms of shaping energy policy is Harold Hamm who was a billionaire who founded the shale oil company Continental Resources. He’s been a big contributor to the Koch brothers fundraising network, and there is so far no indication that Donald Trump did not mean what he said when he talked about climate change being a hoax that has damaged American competitiveness.
DAVIES: Are there some specific things President Trump could do immediately to change the direction of climate policy?
OSNOS: Yeah, he could. The Paris climate deal is a formal matter, requires four years to unwind. So in the interim, he could immediately suspend American payments to the deal in effect. These are the payments that the United States would make to U.N.-affiliated agencies that would be in charge of both implementing the deal and then also helping developing countries pay for making some of the concessions and transitions that are required in order to implement it.
DAVIES: You talk to some experienced people in immigration for your piece in The New Yorker about what it would take to affirmatively go out and find millions of undocumented workers and get them out of the country. You want to share a bit of that with us?
OSNOS: Yeah. I spoke to Julie Myers Wood, for instance, who was the head of Immigration Customs and Enforcement under George W. Bush, and she is opposed to Donald Trump-stated policies on immigration in many ways. But she also said that it’s a big mistake to assume that his ideas are so radical as to therefore be impossible, and that was her major point to me was that there are tools that are at the disposal of a president that would allow them to do this dramatic escalation of deportation. For instance, a president could give the IRS files to ICE, to Immigrations Customs Enforcement. So IRS files are considered to be the most reliable source of home addresses because a lot of undocumented immigrants who pay taxes, for instance, put in a reliable home address so that they can receive their refund.
If the president allowed it, that would then make it much easier for enforcement agents to be able to go out and find people. Another thing that would be at the disposal of a President is what’s known as 287-G of the Immigration Act which would allow the local and state agents, basically cops of one kind or another, to be enlisted in service of the deportation project. So that’s how you begin to see, for instance, local police being brought in for the purposes of raiding farms or factories and beginning to achieve the deportation numbers that he’s talked about.
But in order to do so, it would take a significant escalation of manpower and also of resources. But what came clear from my reporting on the subject was that it’s a big mistake to assume that it’s - this is binary that you either will have the system as it exists today or you would have some completely unimaginable system that Donald Trump has talked about. There is in fact a spectrum in between that Trump could move fairly substantially down the road to achieving his objectives on immigration.
DAVIES: Let’s talk about trade and the economy. You know, one of his core principles you said is the belief that trade deals have harmed America’s economy and killed jobs. What authority would he have immediately to remake or undo American trade policy?
OSNOS: The president has broad authority on trade. So, for instance, right away, the president could end American participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I think it’s fair to assume that the TPP as it’s known is now dead. But beyond that, he could also force Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from it eventually.
There is a process in the case of NAFTA. He couldn’t just do it immediately. But when it comes to slapping tariffs, for instance, on other countries, there’s two ways to do it. One requires Congress and one doesn’t. If he goes after specific categories of goods - so if he says, for instance, that, you know, Chinese exports of one specific type, let’s call it, you know, chicken or tires or something like that, then he can use his own presidential power to do that sort of on an emergency basis. But if he’s going to try to impose a broad-based tariff against a country, that would actually require the consent of Congress.
But I think the important point is that he has the ability to change the tenor of the trade relationship with a country by talking about it in other ways. And as we all know, you know, he talked about China in very harsh terms during this campaign. My own sense based on talking to his trade advisers and his China specialists was that that was a kind of theater. I don’t believe that Donald Trump is prepared actually in any way to go to a trade war with China, I think, meaning that, you know, one of the things that his advisers said to me was that Donald Trump’s persona that he - you know, he’s confrontational, he says outrageous things, that that would have a chilling effect on the other side and that China would then fall in line. That’s their theory. They’re not actually prepared for the full economic consequences, which would be severe and profound, of a trade war with the world’s second-largest economy.
DAVIES: Well, this is an interesting and important question. And you can’t predict the future, but if, in fact, one of his core beliefs is that this is a big problem, we have to fix this to rebuild the American economy, what do the economists you talk to expect to happen? Are we going to have a trade war? What would it do?
OSNOS: A trade war could be a really dramatic turn in American economic history. If you talk to independent analysts, people who are not involved in either campaign, somebody - there’s a guy, for instance, named Mark Zandi, who’s an economist at Moody’s Analytics. And he’s worked for Republicans and he’s worked for Democrats in the past. And what he says is that Trump’s plan, if he actually did the things that he said he would and triggered a trade war with China that that would put probably somewhere around 4 million Americans out of work. And then over the ensuing recession that it would also cost the economy another 3 million jobs that would have been created otherwise.
Most economists broadly agree that a trade war would be hugely damaging to the United States.
DAVIES: One of the things he also says he wants to do is immediately cut the regulatory burdens on businesses on Wall Street. Can he do that himself?
OSNOS: He can. The president has authority, ultimate authority over 15 executive agencies. And he would be able to direct them to change the pace and spirit in which they are issuing regulations. He has said - I’m not clear on whether this is legally possible - that he wants to do a version of what Vice President-elect Mike Pence did in Indiana.
Pence created an agency that was dedicated to suspending the creation of all new regulations except for public health and safety.
DAVIES: He’s promised big tax cuts. Will they really happen?
OSNOS: That, I think, is one of his better bets. He’s got a Republican Congress on his side. And at this point, it’s hard to see them not doing it.
DAVIES: And what kind of tax cuts are we talking about? I mean, for those of us who haven’t carefully followed his campaign positions, are they upper income, middle income, everybody?
OSNOS: They provide the greatest relief to the upper stratum of the tax base, so the highest earners will do best. There is also tax relief for the sort of upper-middle-class. Then corporate tax rates will be substantially relieved.
DAVIES: Let’s talk about foreign and military policy. He’s criticized the deal with Iran. Can he scuttle that deal by himself?
OSNOS: Yes, he can. What he has said he wants to do is renegotiate the deal with Iran, and renegotiate is a sort of a flexible word. It’s not clear what he means entirely. But were he to try to reopen that deal, that could actually - that could really change the course of things more broadly beyond just the Iran deal because at that point what happens is that Iran - and Iran specialists told me as much months ago - would regard the United States seeking to renegotiate the deal as an abrogation of the deal.
At that point, they would say that the United States has basically not held up its end of the bargain, and they would have the right - the legal authority and the right - to restart the development of nuclear energy. So I think he’s going to find once he begins to get into the details of this that by simply announcing that he’s going to renegotiate that might not achieve the effect he has in mind. It might actually hasten the restart of the Iranian nuclear program.
DAVIES: When you wrote about Donald Trump and his policies towards the military and towards foreign affairs, the issue of temperament comes up. This is a loaded word. He hated being criticized for his temperament. But you have - you found a quote from his book “Think Like A Billionaire.” It can be smart to be shallow, that he has a penchant for making big decisions quickly, that he trusts his gut. Share what - some of what you learned about what that might mean from your conversations with military and intelligence officials.
OSNOS: Yeah. When you talk to a broad range of people who have been involved in the most sensitive national security questions, you know - these are the people who’ve been in the Situation Room at crucial moments particularly from Republican administrations what they’ll tell you is that the crucial ingredient is whether or not a president is impetuous, whether or not the president makes decisions before they have as much information and as many competing points of view as possible. And often as one - James Woolsey who is a former director of the CIA is now an adviser to the Trump administration - before he became an adviser to Trump, he said to me in an interview that very often the first information that a president receives is wrong. And we’ve seen that beginning all the way from Vietnam up to the present day. And part of the sort of crucial patience that’s required is the ability to both wait until you have a fuller picture and then also be prepared to act. But if you act on the basis of limited information, history suggests to us that we would have made a lot of catastrophic choices.
DAVIES: You know, last year, you wrote about white nationalist groups that have embraced Trump, and they feel he’s expanded their reach, given them some legitimacy and, of course, since the election there have been some very troubling cases of swastikas, racist graffiti, some assaults racist hate speech. You know, some would see this as just a fringe that is an embarrassment to most Republicans and conservatives I’m wondering what you make of this and what the impact will be of Trump being in the White House?
OSNOS: Well, in some ways, this was a storyline that I think people who generally covered politics didn’t initially embrace, you know, the idea that somehow the alt-right or the white nationalist world would be even talked about in a discussion of an incoming presidential. It was so ludicrous that we didn’t even really do it. And then it just became very clear early on in the Trump campaign that they were a part of this phenomenon. The neo-Nazi website endorsed him for president 12 days after he announced. And later you follow it all the way through 20 months later. He was endorsed by the newspaper the KKK. Steve Bannon has been - who is now chief strategist in the White House - has been really the sort of principal thinker in terms of how do you take ideas that exist way out on the far right and get them in front of people’s eyes that are more conventional readers?
And at Breitbart, that’s really what he did. He sort of - it became the platform for the alt-right. When I spoke on Election Day to a white nationalist leader named Matthew Heimbach as the sort of results became clear, I said, you know, how are you feeling? And he said vindicated. And what he said was that this campaign and that the victory of Donald Trump has shown that there is an appetite out there for his ideas, even if people can’t quite bring themselves to say so.
You know, I just have to say, I mean, this was so preposterous that we’d be talking about this a couple of years ago, that it’s a reminder of how much politics have changed and been changed by the candidacy of Donald Trump. Now, look, how that actually translates into a White House, we don’t yet know. But Steve Bannon is now a couple of steps from the Oval Office, and that’s - we’re in uncharted territory there.
DAVIES: Evan Osnos, thanks so much for speaking with us.