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White House: “Fake news” to say new Trump tariffs will hurt U.S. consumers

Published: Friday, March 02, 2018 @ 10:46 AM

Facing criticism from Republican Governors and GOP members of Congress over President Donald Trump’s plans to slap new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, the White House on Friday afternoon said the plan would apply to all nations that send such products to the United States, arguing there would be “virtually no price impact” on consumers from either of the new trade duties.

“There seems to be a fake news thread here that somehow modest and measured tariffs on aluminum and steel are going to cause massive inflation downstream,” said a senior White House Official, who labeled press stories and criticism “hyperbole.”

“The reality here is that this 10 percent tariff on aluminum can only increase the price of an entire six pack of beer by a little over a penny,” the official said. “It’s virtually nothing.”

Along with the 10 percent tariff on imports of aluminum, there would be a 25 percent tariff on imports of steel.

While the President did not say this to reporters on Thursday, the official said Mr. Trump’s tariff decision will be “an across-the-board tariff with no exclusions,” applying to all other nations – and that it will only have positive economic effects.

“From an economic standpoint, there are virtually no impacts other than positive ones for two industries that we need,” the official said.

Outside of Washington, D.C., the view was much different.

“If the President wants to protect good-paying, family-supporting jobs in America, especially here in Wisconsin, then he should reconsider the administration’s position on these tariffs,” said Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

“I believe it invites a trade war that ultimately will work against American jobs and consumers,” said Gov. John Kasich of Ohio said of the tariff decision.

“Let’s be clear: The President is proposing a massive tax increase on American families,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE).

Farm groups were particularly alarmed by the President’s move, worried that they will be targeted first by countries which object to the new tariffs.

“These tariffs are very likely to accelerate a tit-for-tat approach on trade, putting U.S. agricultural exports in the crosshairs,” said Brian Kuehl, Executive Director for the group Farmers for Free Trade.

There were already reports of other nations considering retaliatory trade measures; Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau labeled the U.S. plan “absolutely unacceptable.”

Meanwhile in Europe, there were reports that Kentucky bourbon, Harley Davidson motorcycles, and other items might be targeted with import duties as payback.

If that sounded like the start of a trade war, that kind of talk didn’t phase top Trump advisers.

“All we’re doing here is defending this country against a global economic trading environment that disadvantages” the United States, the White House official said to reporters, repeatedly saying the extra tariffs would have no negative impact in the U.S. on consumers, trade or jobs.

Earlier on Friday morning, the President had made clear he was following through on his campaign pledge to shake up the global trading system, saying “trade wars are good, and easy to win.”

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Ohio lawmakers criticize separating kids from parents at border

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 12:57 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 12:57 PM

What You Need to Know: 'Zero Tolerance' Immigration Policy

Ohio Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown criticized President Donald Trump’s administration for separating children from parents trying to cross the border in the United States.

President Trump defended the policy Tuesday blaming Democrats, child smugglers and said Congress needs to take action.

In a statement Tuesday, Portman, R-Ohio, said “the policy is counter to our values. We can have strong border security without separating families at the border. They can be kept together and dealt with as a family unit.”

“The administration should change course immediately and use its executive authority to keep families together and expedite their cases,” Portman said. “If those changes aren’t made, Congress should act quickly on a legislative solution to fix this problem.”

RELATED: Hundreds of children wait in border patrol facility in Texas

Brown, D-Ohio, who is seeking re-election against Republican Jim Renacci, said “all children should be treated with compassion. Tearing families apart is wrong and will not fix our broken immigration system.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, went on CNN Tuesday and said he’s “opposed to the practice” of separating children from their parents.

“If the president has the ability, certainly the president should end the practice,” he said.

Turner and other House Republicans met with President Trump on the issue Tuesday night.

Turner says Speaker Paul Ryan is backing a bill that would move from a lottery to a merit-based immigration system, end the separations and deal with border security. He said he hopes President Trump will support the speaker’s bill.

“Immigration is the strength and the heart of our country,” Turner said. “We have a system that is absolutely broken.”

RELATED: Before Trump policy, immigrant families arrested at border were detained together

The House is expected to consider two competing immigration bills this week which could include language preventing the border separations. But there are deep doubts either bill can pass the House or Senate in part because Republicans are so divided on the issue and Democrats believe neither bill solves the problem.

U.S. Senate candidate Renacci, a House member from Wadsworth, said “protecting both American jobs and our security by securing our borders and fixing our broken immigration system must be a top priority,” and urged swift passage of a bill to “enforce America’s immigration laws” and prevent “the separation of children from their parents on our border.”

President Trump wants Congress to act

President Trump called for Congress to approve what he called a third option to address the family separations.

“So what I’m asking Congress to do is to give us a third option, which we have been requesting since last year, the legal authority to detain and promptly remove families together as a unit,” Trump said. “We have to be able to do this. This is the only solution to the border crisis.”

Under the current policy, all unlawful crossings are referred for prosecution — a process that moves adults to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and sends many children to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services. Under the Obama administration, such families were usually referred for civil deportation proceedings, not requiring separation.

What You Need to Know: 'Zero Tolerance' Immigration Policy

More than 2,300 minors were separated from their children at the border from May 5 through June 9, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Top conservatives, including key Trump allies, have introduced bills to keep the migrant families together. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas introduced legislation that the White House said it was reviewing, and Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus, also introduced a measure.

“While cases are pending, families should stay together,” tweeted Cruz, who is in an unexpectedly tough re-election battle. He introduced his own bill to speed up court proceedings to no more than 14 days. “Children belong with their families,” he said.

Both bills seemed to be longshots. “This becomes a backup proposal,” Meadows told reporters at the White House.

The Trump administration insists the family separations are required under the law. But after signaling Monday that it would oppose any fix aimed solely at addressing that issue, the White House said Tuesday it was reviewing the emergency legislation being introduced by Cruz to keep migrant families together.

The senator’s bill would add more federal immigration judges, authorize new temporary shelters to house migrant families, speed the processing of asylum cases and require that families that cross the border illegally be kept together, absent criminal conduct or threats to the welfare of any children.

The two immigration bills under consideration in the House could address the separations, but the outlook for passage is dim. Conservatives say the compromise legislation that GOP leaders helped negotiate with moderates is inadequate.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, a member of the Freedom Caucus, said he’s skeptical that even a full-throated endorsement from Trump will be enough to get the compromise bill through the House.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump to meet House GOP amid furor over immigrant families

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 4:15 AM

As President Donald Trump lashed out at Democrats on Monday, demanding again that Congress act to tighten federal immigration laws, more Republicans in the Congress began to distance themselves from a recent Trump Administration policy change, which has resulted in the separation of some 2,200 illegal immigrant families detained by border authorities.

“As the son of a social worker, I know the human trauma that comes with children being separated from their parents,” said Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), as he asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “take immediate action to end the practice of separating children from families at the border.”

“We as compassionate Americans absolutely detest watching families being pulled apart,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), who in a speech on the Senate floor said on one hand the President is correct to call for action in Congress on immigration – but that the Trump Administration has been wrong to separate so many families in the last six weeks, labeling the situation “a mess.”

At the White House, the President didn’t shy away from the controversy, again blaming Congress for not acting, and making it clear he wants to stop a recent surge in illegal immigration across the southern border.

“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” the President said. “Not on my watch.”

The President will take that sharp message on Tuesday evening to a meeting of House Republicans at the Capitol, trying to rally them to get behind a piece of immigration legislation, which could solve a series of issues.

GOP leaders though have been trying for months to figure out a deal, but have found the party too splintered over what to do on DACA, younger illegal immigrant “Dreamers,” and ways to tighten what Mr. Trump says are odious loopholes in immigration law.

“A county without borders is not a country at all,’ the President declared, as he said that illegal immigrants are bringing “death and destruction” to America.

“They are thieves and murderers and so much else,” Mr. Trump added.

But Mr. Trump’s criticism of Democrats and Congress has drawn more opposition in recent days from within his own party, who feel the White House is wrongly trying to use the plight of immigrant children to force through immigration law changes.

“President Trump has chosen to implement this policy and he can put an end to it,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), “but he chooses not to do so and instead blames others.”

“The administration has the power to rescind this policy. It should do so now,” said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) via Twitter.

While Mr. Trump has repeatedly blamed Democrats for the separation of families, it was the Trump Administration that decided to take this step in early May, by prosecuting adults for illegally entering the country.

That move to enforce the law triggers a situation in which children are removed from their parents, leading to the uproar of recent days.

“This is the Trump administration’s policy,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). “President Trump could put an end to this immoral policy right now.”

Republicans have floated various ideas in recent days – it wasn’t clear if any could make it through the House, as immigration has vexed GOP lawmakers for years, as this latest battle has turned up the heat even more.

“It’s not good policy to separate children at our border from their parents & release them into the US,” said Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY). “It’s also not good policy to just immediately release an entire family together into the US when that family enters our country illegally.”

 

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Senate OKs $116 million for massive NASIC project at Wright-Patterson

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 6:36 PM
Updated: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 6:36 PM

‘60 Minutes’ previews story about NASIC and Wright-Patt

The Senate late Monday passed a $716 billion defense bill that included $116 million expansion of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center - one of the largest projects in Wright-Patterson’s recent history.

By a vote of 85-10, the Senate passed its version of the defense bill, which authorizes defense programs for the 2019 federal spending year that begins in October. Both Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, voted in support of the bill.

The House version of the defense bill, which passed last month, authorized $182 million for the full NASIC project, but it would be paid out or appropriated over a number of years starting with $61 million in the first year.

RELATED: Some of U.S.’s most secretive work will be done in new NASIC building

The differences between the two versions will have to be worked out in a conference committee before a final appropriations bill is passed.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, whose district includes Wright-Patterson, had pushed for authorization of the entire construction cost.

The Air Force had asked for $116 million in its initial budget request and was expected to ask for the remainder in future years, according to a spokeswoman for Portman. Portman’s office had initially indicated the senator would pursue additional funding, but the Air Force had requested the additional amounts in 2020-2023, a spokeswoman said.

The expansion is expected to relieve overcrowding at the secretive intelligence center, where some employees share desks and work in shifts. NASIC has added about 100 people a year between 2000 and 2015, spokeswoman Michelle Martz said.

Loren B. Thompson, a Virginia-based senior defense analyst with the Lexington Institute and a defense industry consultant, said with the return of great power competition with Russia and China, NASIC’s intelligence analysis will be in growing and greater demand and bring “total job security.”

“Making China and Russia the focus of our military strategy increases the importance of what NASIC does. After all, terrorists and insurgents like the Taliban don’t have air forces or space programs, whereas China and Russia do,” he said in an email.

He added that NASIC “is central to understanding the state of aerospace technology from missile defenses to stealthy aircraft in the countries that will likely remain America’s key competitors through mid-century.

“China and Russia are the only two countries in the world that have the ability to destroy the U.S. economy, and perhaps our democracy, with their nuclear arsenals,” he said. “So working at NASIC in the years ahead is likely to offer the closest thing to total job security that you can find in modern-day America.”

Saves jobs at Research Lab

Separately, the defense bill also blocked the transfer of a manufacturing technology office with 55 jobs from the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson to the Pentagon.

The Pentagon had planned to move the office, which had been at Wright-Patterson since 1987, last Oct. 1, archives show. But Brown sponsored a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act to keep the jobs at Wright-Patt.

RELATED: Stealth bombers, UFO rumors among base’s first 100 years

Brown and three of his congressional colleagues had sent a letter last August to Secretary of Defense James Mattis warning the move could lead to “disorganized and haphazard development” of future programs and put at risk dozens of active projects.

Brown praised the inclusion of the provision in the defense bill Monday.

“The workers at the Lab have the deep institutional knowledge and experience we need to continue making these defense manufacturing investments, and to oversee the program to ensure current projects are successful and cost-effective,” he said.

Charlie Ward, chief of the AFRL manufacturing and technologies division, said in a statement there were no plans to move the manufacturing and industrial technologies division to Washington.

CONTINUING COVERAGE

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Back on the air with Jamie Dupree 2.0

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 12:15 PM

It was just another newscast this morning for WSB Radio in Atlanta. It was just another newscast on WDBO in Orlando, WHIO in Dayton, WOKV in Jacksonville, and KRMG in Tulsa. But it was much more than that for me, as my voice – my new, computer generated voice – went on the air today, getting me back on the radio for the first time in two years, after my voice was taken away by an unknown neurological disorder.

We call it, Jamie Dupree 2.0, a voice synthesized from recordings of my past news stories, which when paired with a special text-to-speech program, will allow me to go back on the radio,

I tuned in from home to see how it would sound. It all seemed so normal. The anchor reading the intro. “More from Jamie Dupree in Washington.” And then my story played on the radio, just like up until the spring of 2016.

A few hours later, I got to work, and there was breaking news from the Supreme Court, as the Justices sidestepped a ruling on two cases dealing with gerrymandering of legislative district lines.

It all felt so normal. I typed up my story, fed it out to my stations, and it hit the air.

At home it seemed normal. But at work in the Capitol, when it played out in real time – the moment hit home.

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