“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
That, as you all know, is the Preamble to the United States Constitution, the foundation for the government of the U.S. Until recently, it was a representational form of government. The Constitution calls for three separate and distinct branches of government in order to achieve a system of checks and balances so that no one branch has complete autonomy. The reason is to protect our representational form of government from corruption, from making self-serving and destructive decisions. If there was ever a doubt in your mind that there are no longer checks on the executive branch, the presidency, you can put those doubts to bed now, for the proof is in the pudding that Congress, the legislative branch of government, is too afraid of Donald Trump to act on behalf of We The People.
You will recall that on June 1st, Trump imposed a 25% tariff on imports of steel, and a 10% tariff on aluminum, on the European Union, Canada, and Mexico – our allies – citing “national security” as the reason. Our allies were, justifiably and understandably, disturbed by this move, as were many here at home. The tariffs were poorly received by the vast majority of economists; almost 80% of 104 economists surveyed by Reuters believed that tariffs on steel and aluminum imports would be a net harm to the U.S. economy. The World Bank has warned that a spiral of rising tariffs could lead to a drop in global trade not seen since the financial crisis of 2007-2008.
The legal basis for Trump to impose the tariffs is questionable, at best. It comes from Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 which under certain circumstances allows the president to impose tariffs based on the recommendation from the U.S. Secretary of Commerce if “an article is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten or impair the national security.” This section has never been invoked since the creation of the World Trade Organization was established in 1995, and I have to ask just how Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce, concluded that the import of steel and aluminum poses a threat to national security.
National security? There is far more harm in starting a trade war and alienating our closest allies, our friends, than there is in free trade. In fact, trade agreements such as NAFTA contribute to the economies and safety nets of the nations involved.
The tariffs garnered widespread criticism among members of Congress, even some conservative republicans! On Thursday, June 7th, Senator Bob Corker filed a proposal to require congressional approval for President Donald Trump’s tariffs in the form of an amendment to a must-pass defense appropriation bill. Corker was joined by Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander and eleven other senators who have grave concerns about the tariffs and the near-certain retaliatory tariffs and the damage that will be done to the U.S. economy, not to mention our standing with our allies.
Admittedly, Corker’s bill, even if passed in the Senate, stood a slimmer chance in the House, and was almost certain to fail passing with a veto-proof majority in both chambers. BUT … it was a beginning that sent a message that perhaps Congress was finally willing to do their job, and it was gaining momentum. BUT … on Tuesday, at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s request, Senator Jim Inhofe blocked Senator Corker’s tariffs bill from a vote. The bill is now effectively dead, and Trump has once again proven that he has authoritarian powers.
Why did Senator Inhofe block the bill? Because it would displease Trump. Bob Corker said it best …
“The United States Senate, right now, on June 12, is becoming a body where, well, we’ll do what we can do, but my gosh, if the president gets upset with us, then we might not be in the majority. And so let’s don’t do anything that might upset the president. ‘Gosh, we might poke the bear’ is the language I’ve been hearing in the hallways. We might poke the bear. The president might get upset with us as United States senators if we vote on the Corker amendment, so we’re going to do everything we can to block it.”
I am a voter. I paid federal income taxes from the time I was 13-years-old until I retired a few years ago. I am a citizen. I do not want to live in this nation if Herr Trump can wake up one morning and make a decision without any oversight from our elected representatives, or if our elected representatives are so fearful of Trump that they refuse to represent us. The majority of people in this nation feel the same. If the “Mitch and Jim Show” can, with the snap of their fingers, render our voices silent by silencing the voices of those people we elected to represent our interests, then we are no longer a representational government, and rather than being citizens, we are now subjects.