On The Money: Trade deficit rises to 10-year high under Trump | Dem says request for Trump's tax returns could come within weeks | Trump raises pressure on GOP over border emergency vote

On The Money: Trade deficit rises to 10-year high under Trump | Dem says request for Trump's tax returns could come within weeks | Trump raises pressure on GOP over border emergency vote

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THE BIG DEAL--Trade deficit rises to 10-year high under Trump: The annual U.S trade deficit reached a record high in 2018, despite President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash CNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview MORE's efforts to reduce foreign purchases and steer consumers toward American-made products.

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The difference between the value of goods and services imported and exported by the U.S. rose $68.8 billion from 2017 to $621 billion in 2018, according to Commerce Department data released Wednesday. The monthly trade deficit for December 2018 rose to $59.8 billion, the widest gap for any month since October 2008. I'll tell you why here.



The background: Trump has made reducing the U.S. trade deficit one of his signature issues. He has focused especially on the deficit with China, which he says is a result of unfair trade deals that hinder American manufacturing and exports. To push back, Trump has imposed tariffs on billions of dollars in foreign goods, including steel, aluminum and Chinese exports.

But most economists counter that the metric does not reflect the full impact of global trade policies. Many say the deficit is driven by a strong U.S. dollar and economy that enables Americans to buy more foreign goods while making U.S. exports more expensive to international buyers.

 

The state of play:

  • The latest trade data comes as the Trump administration attempts to finalize a deal with the Chinese government to end a yearlong battle waged through retaliatory tariffs.
  • Trump has pledged to lift new tariffs on Chinese goods if Beijing agrees to halt intellectual property theft from U.S. companies, ramp up purchases of U.S. crops and allow greater foreign access to domestic financial markets.

 

What comes next: The president has said for months that he and Beijing are close to a deal, and Trump suggested a potential Mar-a-Lago summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping to finalize an agreement later this month.

Some of Trump's top aides are less optimistic. U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerPelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House On The Money: Economy adds 164K jobs in July | Trump signs two-year budget deal, but border showdown looms | US, EU strike deal on beef exports Chinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report MORE told lawmakers last week that even if Trump strikes a deal with China, it could take years to hold Beijing accountable to its terms.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW

 

LEADING THE DAY

Dem says request for Trump's tax returns could come within weeks: Rep. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellLawmakers, social media users praise photo of Pelosi confronting Trump Lawmakers focus their ire on NBA, not China Hillary Clinton swipes at NBA over Hong Kong controversy MORE (D-N.J.) predicted Tuesday that House Democrats will request President Trump's tax returns from the Treasury Department in the next two weeks -- the latest signal that the request may be coming soon.

"My prediction would be the next couple of weeks," Pascrell, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, told reporters.

He added that the two-week timetable is his personal prediction and that Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealBusiness groups keep pressure for trade deal amid impeachment fight Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — House Dems change drug pricing bill to address progressive concerns | Top Republican rejects Dem proposal on surprise medical bills | Vaping group launches Fox News ad blitz Top Republican rejects Democratic chairman's approach to stopping surprise medical bills MORE (D-Mass.) hasn't told him a specific timetable.

When Neal was asked about a timetable on Tuesday, he told reporters he would make the request "when the case is ready."

"I think that we're doing the due diligence," he said. The Hill's Naomi Jagoda tells us more.

 

Trump increases pressure on GOP over emergency border vote: President Trump ramped up pressure on Senate Republicans ahead of next week's vote on a resolution to block his national emergency declaration.

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"Senate Republicans are not voting on constitutionality or precedent, they are voting on desperately needed Border Security & the Wall. Our Country is being invaded with Drugs, Human Traffickers, & Criminals of all shapes and sizes. That's what this vote is all about. STAY UNITED!" Trump tweeted Wednesday. 

 

GOOD TO KNOW

  • General Motors ceased production at its Lordstown, Ohio plant Wednesday after more than five decades of churning out cars--and providing jobs--in the Buckeye State.
  • The White House on Wednesday threatened to impose sanctions on foreign banks that do business with the government of Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro, its latest bid to boost pressure on the leader to give up power.
  • Regulators took steps on Wednesday to loosen scrutiny of big U.S. banks, asset managers and insurance companies, targeting rules established after the financial crisis.
  • The White House and European Union are headed for a bruising battle over agricultural trade with Trump's threat of steep tariffs on European cars hanging overhead, The New York Times reports.
  • Bloomberg looks into why employers tell the Federal Reserve they're having trouble finding workers despite data showing a booming labor market

 

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Op-Ed: Simon Lester, associate director of trade policy studies at the Cato Institute, argues why the new trade deficit data should "turn 'Tariff Man' Trump into the 'Free Trade Crusader.'"
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking to hire a private education loan ombudsman.