Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Trump has put US companies on alert that he might force them to withdraw from China, where they have $256 billion invested. He says he is given this power by the 1977 law called the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, or IEEPA.
The Republican Party has spent over a century warning against government involvement in the private sector, but now their leader is doing it big time. Trump ordering companies around about where they can invest is a form of fascism or rightwing national socialism. Left socialism is about public sector economic activity for the good of people. National socialism is the state usurping economic resources on behalf of a small corporate and high-official elite.
The US Congress has given up many of its constitutional prerogatives over the years to the imperial presidency, something connived at by major party leaders such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Trump should not have the ability to set tariffs on foreign countries by tweet. The regulation of interstate commerce is a congressional prerogative.
Tara Golshan at Vox explained how Trump unilaterally raised China tariffs in the first place by 25% (he is threatening to go to 30%):
- “Trump’s White House cited Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, a provision that gives the secretary of commerce the authority to investigate and determine the impacts of any import on the national security of the United States — and the president the power to adjust tariffs accordingly.”
So one thing that is going on is that measures passed by Congress for limited and extreme situations are being misused by presidents for everyday policy-making.
- “Article I, Section. 8: The Congress shall have Power…To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”
Some of it is cowardice, since tariff decisions can be unpopular among some sectors. Why not let the president take the heat?
Because the president is a single person not 535 elected representatives, and the president might be stark raving mad sometimes.
One thing the Trump presidency should have taught Congress is that it needs to take back all its constitutional prerogatives as soon as possible. Maybe the House should go ahead and establish an ad hoc committee to review legislation that unconstitutionally gives away prerogatives to the imperial presidency.
The architects of presidential power from the Ford era onward were often reacting against the Watergate-era reforms. The US right always did want a king, regardless of the constitution. So many right wing projects that benefit a small sliver of elite Americans in tuxedos could not pass through Congress, making it very useful to have an all-powerful president who half the time will be from the party of plutocrats.
The Watergate reforms clearly did not go nearly far enough. Even Republican senators should recognize this by now.