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Trump Trolls for Trouble, but Trade Tricked him!

29 Jan 2018

pigs at the trough

Ok, I promise I’ll stop quite the # of posts with “TR”, but this is a good counter to the bad news on trade we discussed last week.  On Friday of last week, the U.S. International Trade Commission dealt a blow to Cronyism, Mr. Trump and that largest of corporate cronies, the Boeing Corporation.

In a surprise decision, the U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled against aerospace giant Boeing in a bitter trade case it brought against Bombardier over passenger jets its Canadian rival sold to Delta Air Lines.  The 4-0 decision is defeat for Boeing, which had argued that Bombardier’s trade practices were illegal and harmful to its business and means that nearly 300 percent duties recommended by the Trump administration last year won’t be applied to the planes.

So first of all, let’s rejoice that Mr. Trump’s anti-competitive instincts can still be stopped by other parts of our government.  Despite some fears on the left, we have not elected a dictator.  Informed opposition to foolish policies can still make a difference.

But second, let’s consider that the applicant was Boeing.  Now one of the many special pleadings in favor of intervening in trade is to protect small and weak domestic producers.  But Boeing is the last company that ought to be asking for favors, and certainly ought to be the last company granted favors in trade.  That is, if those decisions were based on even the fallacious “infant industry” argument.  But we know why Boeing continues to gain favor, even if they didn’t win the victory in this case–they play the crony capitalist game very well.  A quick review over on Opensecrets reveals the magnitude of their financial giving and lobbying,  with ~ $20M in the 2016 election cycle, with some of the winners listed below:

Top Recipients

Recipient Total From Indivs From Orgs
 Clinton, Hillary $209,059 $209,059 $0
 Sanders, Bernie $98,293 $98,293 $0
 Democratic Congressional Campaign Cmte $72,387 $42,387 $30,000
 Republican National Cmte $55,350 $20,350 $35,000
 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte $53,894 $23,894 $30,000
 Cruz, Ted $50,195 $50,195 $0
 Security Is Strength $50,000 $0 $50,000
 National Republican Congressional Cmte $44,321 $14,321 $30,000
 Murray, Patty $40,272 $40,272 $0
 Trump, Donald $39,424 $39,424 $0


Of course, Crony Capitalism is a bi-partisan pig fest, and likely the only reason Mr. Trump so trailed Mrs. Clinton is the low probability of his election (and to some degree the Boeing Corporation’s locations in Washington State and Illinois).  But this ought to give pause to progressives who have unending faith in government to help the “little guy.”  I continue to see that when government goes outside its biblical role of the bearer of the sword, it tends to gravitate to supporting the politically powerful at the expense of the politically weak.   Who are the politically weak in this case?  The millions of rationally ignorant flyers who won’t know why their tickets cost a few dollars more to make up for the higher costs of the Boeing aircraft.

And we haven’t even touched on the travesty that is the import-export bank, aka Boeing’s bank.  But let’s not think about that right now.  Rather, let’s celebrate the occasional rebuke when the pig at the trough gets a little too greedy.