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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 80)

Stocks Sink After a New Tariff Threat From Trump

Fresh tariff threats from President Trump sank stocks on Thursday, pushing the S&P 500 to its fourth consecutive daily decline and reinvigorating investor worries about the outlook for the global economy.

The trading day didn’t start out negative. Stocks rose throughout the morning, after the Federal Reserve had cut interest rates on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 rising as much as 1 percent.

Then, just before 1:30 p.m., Mr. Trump said on Twitter that the United States would impose a 10 percent tariff on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese imports starting in September.

Over the next hour, the market’s gains quickly melted away. Outside the stock market, benchmark oil prices plunged by 7 percent and yields on government bond tumbled.

“There’s no ambiguity about what’s pushed us off the ledge,” said Ian Burdette, senior managing director at brokerage firm Tribal Capital Markets. “The tweet just really took the wind out of the sails.”

Investors are jittery for good reason. In May, trade-related tweets from President Trump triggered a painful bout of market volatility that sent the S&P 500 down 6.6 percent.

Economic data released Thursday indicated ongoing softness in the American economy. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index showed a slowing in the United States industrial sector. A Department of Commerce report also showed construction spending fell sharply and unexpectedly in June.

But those were just the latest updates on the economic headwinds hitting the United States. Public companies, which are in the middle of reporting on second-quarter profit and sales numbers, have also been offering weak outlooks for the rest of the year, prompting analyst to reduce earnings expectations.

Trump Says U.S. Will Hit China With More Tariffs

Aug 1, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_158742555_7a4837f7-dcee-4b6c-bd1a-719e87d847cd-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Stocks Sink After a New Tariff Threat From Trump United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J International Trade and World Market
Fed Cuts Interest Rates for First Time Since 2008 Crisis

Jul 31, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_158694651_b4338a28-89ec-4aae-9fbe-a3a905c82828-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Stocks Sink After a New Tariff Threat From Trump United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J International Trade and World Market

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Stocks Sink as New Tariff Threat Upends Market Rally

Fresh tariff threats from President Trump sank stocks on Thursday, pushing the S&P 500 to its fourth consecutive daily decline and reinvigorating investor worries about the outlook for the global economy.

The trading day didn’t start out negative. Stocks rose throughout the morning, after the Federal Reserve had cut interest rates on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 rising as much as 1 percent.

Then, just before 1:30 p.m., Mr. Trump said on Twitter that the United States would impose a 10 percent tariff on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese imports starting in September.

Over the next hour, the market’s gains quickly melted away. Outside the stock market, benchmark oil prices plunged by 7 percent and yields on government bond tumbled.

“There’s no ambiguity about what’s pushed us off the ledge,” said Ian Burdette, senior managing director at brokerage firm Tribal Capital Markets. “The tweet just really took the wind out of the sails.”

Investors are jittery for good reason. In May, trade-related tweets from President Trump triggered a painful bout of market volatility that sent the S&P 500 down 6.6 percent.

Economic data released Thursday indicated ongoing softness in the American economy. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index showed a slowing in the United States industrial sector. A Department of Commerce report also showed construction spending fell sharply and unexpectedly in June.

But those were just the latest updates on the economic headwinds hitting the United States. Public companies, which are in the middle of reporting on second-quarter profit and sales numbers, have also been offering weak outlooks for the rest of the year, prompting analyst to reduce earnings expectations.

Trump Says U.S. Will Hit China With More Tariffs

Aug. 1, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_158742555_7a4837f7-dcee-4b6c-bd1a-719e87d847cd-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Stocks Sink as New Tariff Threat Upends Market Rally United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J International Trade and World Market
Fed Cuts Interest Rates for First Time Since 2008 Crisis

July 31, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_158694651_b4338a28-89ec-4aae-9fbe-a3a905c82828-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Stocks Sink as New Tariff Threat Upends Market Rally United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J International Trade and World Market

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Support for Impeachment Inquiry Grows in the House

WASHINGTON — On Monday, it was a soft-spoken senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri. On Tuesday, the careful chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot L. Engel of New York, threw in his support. So did Jennifer Wexton and Jason Crow, two freshmen who flipped Republican seats in Virginia and Colorado.

On Wednesday, the influential chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, Nita M. Lowey of New York, added her voice.

The trickle of Democrats coming out in favor of opening a full impeachment inquiry is threatening to turn into a flood, raising pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take the full House vote she has tried to avoid all year. This week alone, a dozen Democrats have announced their support for an inquiry, and with at least 116 declared supporters, the backers of an impeachment inquiry are more than halfway to the 218 votes they need in the House. They are two shy of a majority of the Democratic Caucus.

It was not necessarily supposed to go that way. The House’s departure last Friday was expected to lower the temperature around the prospect of a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump. An unexpected declaration by the House Judiciary Committee in court papers on Friday that an impeachment investigation was effectively already underway might well have cooled matters further.

But far from relieving pressure, the Judiciary Committee’s legal maneuver may have actually eased the way for more Democrats to come forward. Two high-ranking senators, Patty Murray of Washington and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, also joined the fray this week.

“The president’s repeated abuses have brought American democracy to a perilous crossroads,” Mr. Engel said. “Following the guidance of the Constitution — which I have sworn to uphold — is the only way to achieve justice.”

For now, there are few signs that the rising support will translate into meaningful changes to the House Democratic leadership’s approach to an issue that deeply divides the country.

Ms. Pelosi and her top lieutenants remain skeptical of advancing a full-bore impeachment without broader public support and are steering the caucus forward with one foot tapping the brakes. They want to see if the House can use the courts to free up information and witnesses related to Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation that are being blocked by the White House before reaching conclusions — a process that could take months, at best.

It appeared last week as if House leaders might have found a middle ground that could satisfy both proponents of an impeachment inquiry and queasy moderates still lined up against it.

On her way out of town last week, Ms. Pelosi blessed a proposal by the Judiciary Committee to take the position in court that the panel had already begun, on its own authority, “investigating whether to recommend articles of impeachment” against the president. Therefore, the panel said, Democrats did not actually need a House vote of the sort that was taken to initiate impeachment inquiries into Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158490333_14b0cc1c-79a5-49ae-9837-2db5e8820cd5-articleLarge Support for Impeachment Inquiry Grows in the House United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Pelosi, Nancy impeachment House of Representatives Engel, Eliot L Democratic Party

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenants are skeptical of advancing a full-bore impeachment without broader public support.CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

“The stance that she has taken is going to stay put for awhile,” said Representative Mike Quigley, Democrat of Illinois and an advocate of an inquiry.

Democratic leaders always recognized that the August break could be an inflection point for some lawmakers, when conversations with their constituents could push them toward endorsing impeachment. But the drive toward an inquiry seems to be driven as much by internal politics on Capitol Hill as any push from voters. Impeachment was barely a whisper in two nights of Democratic presidential primary debate.

Mr. Quigley said individual members’ views are being shaped by a range of factors, including possible primary challenges, Mr. Mueller’s testimony last week, comments by Mr. Trump that are widely condemned as racist and the administration’s refusal to comply with certain investigative requests by Congress.

In June, Mr. Engel picked up a Democratic primary challenger, Jamaal Bowman, a middle school principal from the Bronx with the backing of Justice Democrats, the insurgent group that helped lift Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to victory in her primary campaign against longtime Representative Joseph Crowley.

A group of Democrats from Washington State, along with Ms. Murray, made the jump in favor of an inquiry together on Sunday, saying that they had waited to hear directly from Mr. Mueller and that their decision should come regardless of politics.

“Some suggest that the Senate is highly unlikely to convict the president should the House impeach him and that his chances of re-election will therefore be enhanced,” Representative Denny Heck said. “That may be true. What is truer is that nothing less than the rule of law is at stake.”

Mr. Cleaver framed his support for an inquiry around Mr. Mueller’s work, but in an interview with The Kansas City Star, he said he was also influenced by Mr. Trump’s racially charged attacks on his colleague Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland.

“If somebody dug deep into my psyche,” he said, “they’d probably dig out a nugget that it played a role.”

That might be what Ms. Pelosi once termed self-impeachment.

“It is hard to predict with this president what would trigger more movement,” Mr. Quigley said.

Republicans are watching in wait for what they believe could be a suicidal decision for Democrats. Mr. Trump has been eager to paint his opposition as ignoring the real needs of voters in favor of a blind pursuit of him — a frame he hopes to fix into place before his 2020 re-election fight. House Republicans have just as gleefully teed off on lawmakers, particularly moderates, who come out in support of an impeachment inquiry.

When Representative Kim Schrier of Washington, who narrowly flipped a Republican seat in 2018, announced her support this week for an inquiry, the House Republican Conference’s campaign arm denounced her as a “deranged socialist” who was “so blinded by her hatred of President Trump that she is perpetuating impeachment conspiracy theories instead of working for her constituents.”

Representative Eliot L. Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, threw in his support of impeachment on Tuesday.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

That campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee, used similarly colorful language to tar Mr. Crow, who won a suburban district in Denver, and Ms. Wexton, who took a Northern Virginia seat. It is even going after vulnerable Democrats, like Representative Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, who do not support voting to open an inquiry but have said the Judiciary Committee and others should stay their course.

That zealousness has some lawmakers concluding they might as well claim the credit from their liberal supporters and endorse an impeachment inquiry if they are going to take hits either way.

Mr. Crow, an Iraq war veteran, framed his decision as a continuation of his service to the country’s ideals.

But perhaps more important is pressure building on their left. There may yet be scant evidence that Mr. Mueller’s testimony before the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees last week has meaningfully transformed public opinion, but it has given new fire to the resolve of pro-impeachment activists.

Need to Impeach, an advocacy group funded by the billionaire presidential candidate Tom Steyer, spent six figures this week to run a 30-second ad highlighting Mr. Mueller’s testimony on CNN and MSNBC around the Democratic presidential primary debates to try to galvanize interest in the issue.

On Thursday, along with three other left-leaning advocacy groups, it started a new campaign, “Impeachment August,” to mobilize voters to pressure their representatives.

The campaign’s website helps voters find town hall-style meetings in their districts and prods them to ask, “Will you uphold your oath to support and defend the Constitution and support an impeachment inquiry into crimes committed by Donald Trump?”

Their efforts could prove enough to persuade more reluctant lawmakers from safe Democratic districts who face little political cost in supporting an inquiry to come on board.

The pressure could be more awkward to navigate for moderates in seats that helped deliver Democrats the majority last year. When Representative Andy Kim, who flipped his New Jersey district by less than two percentage points, faced voters in his district on Tuesday night, he got an earful on the issue, The Burlington County Times reported.

“Why is it taking so long? I want him gone” one attendee interjected. “Do your job,” yelled another in reference to impeachment.

Mr. Kim stood his ground, explaining that he favored oversight investigations already happening in the House. But activists are looking to create many more similar moments.

“There is an opportunity right now for the Democrats to lead with clarity, and that’s going to help them,” said Ezra Levin, a founder of Indivisible, a grass-roots network of progressive activists. “Looking weak and feckless does not help your re-election prospects; it’s going to hurt you.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

How Democrats Will Attack Trump on the Economy

Westlake Legal Group 01DC-DEMECON-01-facebookJumbo How Democrats Will Attack Trump on the Economy Yang, Andrew (1975- ) Warren, Elizabeth United States Economy Trump, Donald J Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) Sanders, Bernard Presidential Election of 2020 Powell, Jerome H O'Rourke, Beto Labor and Jobs Klobuchar, Amy Hickenlooper, John W Harris, Kamala D Castro, Julian Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Bennet, Michael Farrand

It took more than 90 minutes for the moderators of the Democratic presidential primary debate on Wednesday night to turn to the economy, which polls show is a top issue on voters’ minds and one of President Trump’s strengths as he seeks re-election.

The candidates wasted no time attacking him on it.

Across two nights of debates in Detroit, candidates assailed Mr. Trump’s record on trade, tax cuts and wage growth, accusing him of perpetuating economic inequality and a “rigged” system that favors the wealthy and powerful. It was a preview of the economic arguments that are only likely to grow as the 2020 race escalates.

“Donald Trump came in making a whole lot of promises to working people that he did not keep,” Senator Kamala Harris of California said. “He said he was going to help farmers. He said he was going to help autoworkers.”

Ms. Harris said farmers were now staring down bankruptcy, that hundreds of thousands of autoworkers could soon be out of work, and that the chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome H. Powell, had just “admitted” that the central bank cut interest rates by a quarter point on Wednesday because of economic uncertainty created by Mr. Trump’s trade wars.

“Because of this so-called trade policy that this president has, that has been nothing more than the Trump trade tax that has resulted in American families spending as much as $1.4 billion more on everything from shampoo to washing machines,” Ms. Harris said, a reference to the tariffs Mr. Trump has imposed on foreign metals, washing machines and $250 billion worth of Chinese imports.

The attacks came amid the lowest unemployment rate in a half-century and a steady, though slowing, pace of economic growth. Polls show voters give Mr. Trump higher marks on the economy than almost any other issue. The president proclaims the economy to be stronger than at any point in American history, while also clamoring for the Fed to boost it further by cutting interest rates even more than it did this week.

Economists widely see that rate cut as an effort to sustain the economic expansion that began more than a decade ago and now faces challenges from a global manufacturing slowdown and Mr. Trump’s trade fights.

In that economic mix, Democrats see opportunity. Here are some of their likely economic attacks on the president.

This is now the longest economic expansion in American history. But while it has been durable, it hasn’t been particularly strong, especially in terms of delivering big wage gains. Now it is once again downshifting, suggesting the economy may have peaked.

Gross domestic product grew 2.5 percent last year — below Mr. Trump’s 3 percent target — despite a jolt of energy from the Republican tax cuts and increased government spending. Now that boost is fading. G.D.P. grew at a 2.1 percent rate this spring, and forecasters expect about the same from the current quarter. Job growth has also cooled, and some common recession signals are flashing warning signs.

The slowdown is particularly acute in manufacturing, a potential vulnerability for Mr. Trump given his frequent promises to bring back factory jobs. Manufacturing did experience a rebound early in Mr. Trump’s term, but it has since lost momentum under the weight of tariffs, trade tensions and slowing global demand.

After averaging close to 20,000 jobs per month during Mr. Trump’s first two years in office, manufacturing job growth has fallen below 8,000 jobs per month so far this year. Factory output has fallen, and other measures of the industry show it either barely growing or contracting outright. The fallout has hit politically important places in the Midwest particularly hard. General Motors earlier this year idled its plant in Lordstown, Ohio, a symbolically important move that drew Mr. Trump’s ire when it was announced.

Several Democratic candidates accused Mr. Trump of breaking his promise to factory workers. “Donald Trump is malpractice personified, we’ve got to point that out,” John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado, said on Tuesday night. “Where’s the small manufacturing jobs that are supposed to come back?”

Candidates also pressed the case that growth is not lifting American workers nearly as much as it is helping the rich. “The major issue that we don’t talk about in Congress, you don’t talk about in the media,” Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said on Tuesday, “is the massive level of income and wealth inequality in America.”

Republicans promised that Mr. Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut, which featured large reductions for corporations and other business owners, would supercharge business investment in America. And it did — but only briefly.

Nonresidential fixed investment grew at an annual rate of nearly 9 percent in the first quarter after the tax cuts were enacted, its highest rate since 2012. That growth trailed off in the second half of 2018 and slid further at the start of 2019. This spring, it turned negative — in part because investment in America is increasingly linked with the price of oil, and oil prices have fallen sharply from a peak last fall.

The tax cuts, which lowered individual income tax rates, delivered benefits to most Americans. Democratic candidates aren’t acknowledging those gains in the debates. Instead, they’re focusing on high earners, companies and shareholders, who enjoyed the largest benefits from the cuts.

“Since 2001, we have cut $5 trillion worth of taxes,” Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado said on Wednesday. “Almost all of that has gone to the wealthiest people in America. We have made the income inequality worse, not better, through the policies of the federal government.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota promised on Tuesday to pay for an infrastructure bill by raising capital gains rates and “doing something when it comes to that regressive tax bill that left everyone behind, but really made his Mar-a-Lago friends richer, as he promised.”

The Fed chair handed Democrats a talking point at a news conference following the Fed’s rate cut on Wednesday, saying the move was “intended to ensure against downside risks from weak global growth and trade tensions” and noting that Mr. Trump’s trade fights “do seem to be having a significant effect on financial market conditions and the economy.”

Mr. Trump’s imposition of tariffs on imported steel, aluminum, washing machines, solar panels and products from China, along with threats to impose others on automobiles and even French wine, has fueled a spike in business uncertainty both domestically and abroad. The tariffs have also slightly raised prices: A recent study from economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that the tariffs on Chinese goods cost the average household $419 last year. Higher duties that took effect earlier this year could add hundreds more to that total.

Many Democrats, like former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, portrayed those tariffs as a tax on middle-class consumers.

“They’re a huge mistake,” Mr. O’Rourke said. “They constitute the largest tax increase on the American consumer, hitting the middle class and the working poor especially hard, and farmers in Iowa and across the country are bearing the brunt of the consequences.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts criticized Mr. Trump’s proudest trade accomplishment: a new agreement, still pending in Congress, with Canada and Mexico.

“Anyone who thinks that these trade deals are mostly about tariffs just doesn’t understand what’s going on,” she said Tuesday. “Look at the new NAFTA 2.0. What’s the central feature? It’s to help pharmaceutical companies get longer periods of exclusivity so they can charge Canadians, Americans and Mexicans more money and make more profits.”

The low unemployment rate means that nearly everyone who wants a job can get one. But not all those jobs are stable, well-paying or full-time. More than 4 million Americans, for example, are working part-time but would prefer full-time work, a number that’s significantly higher than economists would expect given the low level of joblessness. Some of the fastest recent job growth has been in low-paying sectors like warehousing and hospitality, while hiring has slowed in better-paying industries.

Wage growth, which has been anemic for much of the decade-long expansion, picked up last year, topping 3 percent for the first time since the last recession. But pay gains haven’t made further progress in recent months. And even now, pay growth isn’t coming close to keeping up with the rising cost of housing, especially in expensive cities that have many of the best jobs.

“There are a lot of Americans that are hurting,” Julián Castro, the former housing secretary under President Barack Obama, said Wednesday night, citing high rates of homelessness and the General Motors layoffs as examples. “The idea that America is doing just fine is wrong.”

Democrats have also highlighted longer-run shifts that have made workers more vulnerable, such as declining unionization rates, increasing automation and the rise of “gig economy” jobs that lack traditional workplace protections.

“This is about a moment when the economy is changing before our eyes,” Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., said Tuesday evening. “There are people in the gig economy who go through more jobs in a week than my parents went through in their lifetime.”

One Democratic candidate, Andrew Yang, has proposed a more dramatic solution to weak wage growth: Give every American adult $1,000 a month in cash.

”We need to be laser-focused on solving the real challenges of today, like the fact that the most common jobs in America may not exist in a decade, or that most Americans cannot pay their bills,” Mr. Yang said. He said his plan would be a “game changer for millions of American families.”

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Why Rate Cuts Don’t Help Much Anymore

Westlake Legal Group 01VIEW-01-facebookJumbo Why Rate Cuts Don’t Help Much Anymore University of Chicago University of California, San Diego United States Economy Trump, Donald J Taxation Recession and Depression Polls and Public Opinion Obama, Barack Mortgages International Monetary Fund Interest Rates Inflation (Economics) Gross Domestic Product Federal Taxes (US) Federal Reserve System Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Federal Budget (US) Credit and Debt

Now that it has finally happened, don’t expect the Federal Reserve’s long-awaited rate cut to make all that much of a difference for the economy.

In the weeks leading up to Wednesday’s decision to cut the benchmark Fed funds rate by 0.25 points to 2.25 percent, the stock market seemed to leap whenever Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, hinted that a cut was coming.

On Wednesday, apparently disappointed by the modest size of the first rate cut since 2008, the stock market fell: The S&P 500 declined 1.1 percent.

President Trump certainly wanted the Fed to take action. He said so numerous times on Twitter and on Tuesday morning demanded “a large cut”— larger, presumably, than the Fed delivered.

More rate cuts may be coming. Yet a rather important problem is lurking for anyone relying on Fed cuts to accomplish something substantial, like preventing a slowdown or even staving off a recession.

It’s not just that the Fed has a “short runway” — that rates are already so low that it is impossible to cut them four or five percentage points in the face of a recession, as the Fed has done in the past. The real problem is that recent experience and new economic research suggest that rate cuts in general may have a more modest impact on the economy now than they usually do.

You can understand Mr. Trump’s concern about the economy. It has been the one bright spot in his approval ratings, and now it seems to be slowing.

Under President Barack Obama, growth of the gross domestic product averaged about 2.2 percent after the recession ended in 2009. Under Mr. Trump, with an assist from a large, deficit-financed tax cut, G.D.P. ticked up.

But with that stimulus mostly behind us, G.D.P. growth has slowed. The latest data shows it fell back to 2.1 percent in the three months through June, and the forecasts for the current quarter are even lower. Beyond the United States, the International Monetary Fund has downgraded its forecast for world economic growth yet again.

The worry, arising from some important new research, is that the benefits of Fed rate cuts in today’s environment may be substantially overrated.

Typically, when rates drop, consumers buy more durable goods like washing machines and cars, homeowners refinance their mortgages and effectively get a tax cut, and businesses invest more because the cost of borrowing goes down. But lower rates may have much less impact on these behaviors now. In the language of economics, the economy is suffering from a “weakened monetary transmission mechanism.”

Take spending on consumer durables. A recent study by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and the University of California, San Diego, notes that these purchases occur in lumpy spurts. People tend to spend nothing on such items for long periods, then spend a lot all at once, when money is cheap and prices are enticing.

The problem now is that once-in-a-lifetime offers don’t generate the same excitement if they are repeated every week. And, the study suggests, after 10 years of extremely low interest rates, there probably aren’t many consumers with pent-up demand, waiting for rates to fall. Because so many people have already made their big purchases, the economic kick from a rate cut is smaller than it would be at a “normal” time.

Economists at Northwestern, Copenhagen University and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business have shown the same thing about mortgages. Because most mortgages have fixed rates, a Fed rate cut will affect these homeowners only if they refinance.

Typically there’s a large group of people with a pent-up demand for a cheaper mortgage, and once they get one, the benefit is roughly equivalent to receiving a big tax cut: They have a lot more money to spend on other things. But if rates have already been low for a long time, most of those people will have already refinanced along the way. A cut in rates will not deliver the same punch it usually would.

A similar dynamic probably helps explain why the 2017 corporate tax cut has had such an underwhelming impact on companies’ capital investment. Fundamentally, there wasn’t much pent-up demand for investment after years of low rates, accelerated depreciation, “temporary” investment expensing and other stimulus. That lack of pent-up demand also means that cutting interest rates now is unlikely to entice businesses to invest much more.

So it’s a twofold problem: The Fed has less room to cut rates, and the benefit from cutting them is smaller than usual. We should be wary of vesting too much importance on Fed moves.

In a world of weakened monetary policy, some might view the recent federal budget deal as a major fiscal boost. But it’s worth remembering that the budget compromise increases spending only compared with long-since-abandoned limits set back in 2011.

Compared with last year (which is what matters for G.D.P. growth), federal spending is essentially just growing with inflation. And with the deficit already at troublingly highly levels for an economy not fighting a major war or recession, it’s not clear there would be space for new fiscal stimulus at all.

The good news is that consumers remain confident, unemployment is low, and growth of 2 percent is a lot better than a recession. The bad news is that if it things worsen, there might not be a whole lot out there to save us.

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Joe Biden Did Fine, and That Might Have Been Enough

One month after a wobbly debate performance that reinforced the perceived weaknesses of the ostensible front-runner — Is he too old? Too nostalgically moderate? Too politically brittle to defend himself when challenged? — former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. settled behind his center-stage lectern on Wednesday night and supplied some answers: He is still old. He is still nostalgic. And he is still the front-runner, until someone can prove otherwise.

Far from perfect, and rarely exactly steady, Mr. Biden nonetheless achieved at least some of the goals that seemed to elude him last time.

He had promised before the debate that this time he would not be so “polite.” About 30 minutes in, after listening to liberal rivals lash his health care vision as insufficiently ambitious and dismiss concerns about cost as a Republican talking point, Mr. Biden widened his eyes a bit. He waved a hand, slicing the air. He had just the word.

“This idea is a bunch of malarkey,” he said of the criticisms, leaning on a trademark Bidenism. He accused his peers of underselling the trillions of dollars that a “Medicare for all”-style plan might cost, turning toward two more progressive rivals — Senator Kamala Harris of California and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York — to level the kind of zealous defense of center-leftism that has often escaped him in this campaign: “I don’t know what math you do in New York,” Mr. Biden said. “I don’t know what math you do in California. But I tell ya, that’s a lot of money.”

Throughout the evening, he plowed through a series of forceful defenses of his service alongside former President Barack Obama, frequently eager to wrap himself in Mr. Obama’s legacy on issues from health care to climate and never missing a chance to remind audiences of his association with sunnier Democratic times.

Join us for live analysis on debate night. Subscribe to “On Politics,” and we’ll send you a link.

Certainly, he did acknowledge some differences: He said he would renegotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major trade agreement for which he advocated as vice president.

Even while his record was under attack, Mr. Biden, 76, played the happy statesman, or tried to, occasionally slipping as he addressed far younger contenders. “Go easy on me, kid,” Mr. Biden said to Ms. Harris, a United States senator and former attorney general of California who is 54 years old, as they took the stage.

In an exchange with Julián Castro, the former federal housing secretary and San Antonio mayor, Mr. Biden referred to him as “Julián” and then thought better of it — “excuse me, the secretary.”

Discussing criminal justice reform with Senator Cory Booker, who has been sharply critical of Mr. Biden’s record on that matter, he jokingly skipped ahead, calling him the president and stopping himself as he lightheartedly grabbed Mr. Booker’s arm — “excuse me, the future president.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 31debate-moment2-articleLarge Joe Biden Did Fine, and That Might Have Been Enough United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Presidential Election of 2020 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) Medicare Health Insurance and Managed Care Harris, Kamala D Democratic Party Debates (Political) de Blasio, Bill criminal justice Castro, Julian Booker, Cory A Biden, Joseph R Jr

Mr. Biden asked Senator Kamala Harris to “go easy” on him before the debate began.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

And in an opening statement that seemed to reinforce the introductory theme of his campaign — taking relentless aim at President Trump — Mr. Biden nodded to the diversity of fellow Democrats onstage, appearing sensitive to the balance of running against them as a white male septuagenarian.

“We are strong and great because of this diversity, Mr. President, not in spite of it,” he said, pushing back against Mr. Trump’s latest grievance-powered rhetoric. “So Mr. President, let’s get something straight. We love it. We are not leaving it. We are here to stay, and we’re certainly not going to leave it to you.”

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Mr. Biden’s standing atop the field is far from assured, and some rival campaigns still consider him a paper-tiger favorite, doomed to crumble eventually under the weight of his lengthy record and indiscipline on the stump.

He has still struggled to communicate a detailed affirmative blueprint of what his presidency might look like and has yet to face Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has fashioned herself as the candidate with a policy plan for every occasion, on a debate stage.

And his first debate performance was so rocky, and so alarmed even close allies and advisers, that he did not have a high bar to clear Wednesday night.

But the forum provided a chance to articulate, at least in broad strokes, a compelling argument for the kind of deliberately paced change he is espousing, one night after Ms. Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders outlined their shared promise of far more extensive social and economic upheaval. It was also an opportunity to move beyond his disquieting showing five weeks ago, when an evening of wandering and defensive answers seemed to threaten a bedrock claim of Mr. Biden’s candidacy: that no other Democrat has the presence and moxie to stare down Mr. Trump.

That night in Miami, it was Ms. Harris who initiated the conflict, drawing on her personal experience with busing as a young black girl in California to castigate the former vice president for his warm remembrances of working with segregationist senators. Mr. Biden appeared flat-footed, defiant but sputtering, at one point stopping himself abruptly with an unfortunate phrase: “Anyway, my time is up.”

Entering Wednesday, Mr. Biden seemed determined to abandon such deference. As even admirers acknowledge that he can no longer float above the fray — with the fray savaging his long and often less-than-liberal record at every opportunity — Mr. Biden has in recent weeks demonstrated an increased willingness to engage, responding in kind to Ms. Harris and Senator Cory Booker, who has called Mr. Biden “an architect of mass incarceration.”

[Read our full recap of Night 2 of the Democratic debates.]

Some of Mr. Biden’s allies had described the first debate as a wake-up call for him — a reminder that, regardless of his previous relationships with these Democratic candidates, he could no longer expect the decorous treatment he enjoyed as vice president. His supporters urged him to focus on the future rather than rehashing the more controversial elements of his past.

“To the extent he spends his time getting wrapped up in relitigating statements or comments or votes from 30 or 40 years ago, I think we lose, all of us, collectively,” said Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat and close ally of Mr. Biden’s. “What is constructive is when our candidates put their best foot forward on the debate stage, and show how they would be the best answer to the question that Middle America is asking: If we give you back the keys, Democrats, where will you take us?”

Video

Westlake Legal Group 31debate-ledeall-1-videoSixteenByNine3000 Joe Biden Did Fine, and That Might Have Been Enough United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Presidential Election of 2020 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) Medicare Health Insurance and Managed Care Harris, Kamala D Democratic Party Debates (Political) de Blasio, Bill criminal justice Castro, Julian Booker, Cory A Biden, Joseph R Jr

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Kamala Harris sparred while fending off attacks from fellow candidates on health care and criminal justice reform.CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

At times on Wednesday, Mr. Biden appeared particularly keen to embrace the “middle” part. He made clear that he was familiar with his opponents’ records on sensitive matters like criminal justice and policing, issuing criticisms of those records that could have come from another candidate further to the left. But on immigration, Mr. Biden proudly adopted a more centrist mantle, at a time when many Democratic strategists fear some in the presidential field are veering too far with calls to decriminalize unauthorized border crossings. “The fact of the matter is, you should be able to, if you cross the border illegally, you should be able to be sent back,” Mr. Biden said. “It’s a crime.”

When pressed on the number of deportations that took place while Mr. Obama was in the White House — amid the shouts of some protesters — Mr. Biden staunchly defended the administration’s broader approach. But as Mr. de Blasio needled Mr. Biden over whether he had personally spoken up, Mr. Biden showed a flash of exasperation.

“I was vice president,” he said. “I am not the president. I keep my recommendation in private. Unlike you, I expect you would go ahead and say whatever was said privately with him. That is not what I do. What I do say to you is, he moved to fundamentally change the system.”

While Mr. Biden was crisper and more energetic on Wednesday than he was in the first debate, his verbal tics and signature self-interruptions were hardly eradicated. He still cut himself off, at times with a well-worn trail-off: “Anyway …”

Mr. Biden’s advisers said ahead of the debate that they anticipated that he would be the main target of the other candidates onstage, and candidates from Mr. de Blasio to Ms. Harris to Mr. Booker aimed to deliver. But throughout the debate, Ms. Harris was also the subject of repeated criticism across the stage, from Senator Michael Bennet on health care to Representative Tulsi Gabbard on criminal justice.

In one early exchange on health care, Mr. Biden signaled quickly that he would gladly join the effort. “You can’t beat President Trump with double-talk,” he said, accusing Ms. Harris of vacillating and equivocating in her health care plans. Ms. Harris landed some of her own zingers — “They’re probably confused because they’ve not read it,” she said of the Biden campaign’s critique of her proposal — but often found herself on the defensive, occasionally demoting the former vice president to “Senator Biden” as she collected herself for a response.

Ms. Harris and Mr. Booker are particularly eager to chip away at Mr. Biden’s expansive backing among black voters, who still recall him fondly from his eight years as Mr. Obama’s sidekick.

Yet one lesson of Mr. Biden’s first debate is how durable much of his support seems to be so far. While Mr. Biden initially saw his standing fall a bit in polls, with Ms. Harris especially rising, he appears to have reestablished a comfortable lead in recent surveys.

A Quinnipiac University national poll released Monday showed Mr. Biden well ahead of his competitors: He was the choice of 34 percent of Democratic voters and Democratic-leaning voters, the survey found, while Ms. Harris came in at 12 percent. Among black voters the numbers were starker: Mr. Biden had the support of 53 percent of black Democratic voters; Ms. Harris claimed only 7 percent.

Perhaps channeling some confidence from those poll numbers, Mr. Biden vigorously defended his own record throughout the debate, appearing more comfortable than he had in June.

Not every flourish worked. In his closing statement, Mr. Biden seemed to show his age a little while trying to promote a way to join his campaign. “Go to Joe 30330,” he said, apparently conflating a website with a text message destination. The result, instead, was malarkey.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Joe Biden Did Fine, and That Might Have Been Enough

One month after a wobbly debate performance that reinforced the perceived weaknesses of the ostensible front-runner — Is he too old? Too nostalgically moderate? Too politically brittle to defend himself when challenged? — former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. settled behind his center-stage lectern on Wednesday night and supplied some answers: He is still old. He is still nostalgic. And he is still the front-runner, until someone can prove otherwise.

Far from perfect, and rarely exactly steady, Mr. Biden nonetheless achieved at least some of the goals that seemed to elude him last time.

He had promised before the debate that this time he would not be so “polite.” About 30 minutes in, after listening to liberal rivals lash his health care vision as insufficiently ambitious and dismiss concerns about cost as a Republican talking point, Mr. Biden widened his eyes a bit. He waved a hand, slicing the air. He had just the word.

“This idea is a bunch of malarkey,” he said of the criticisms, leaning on a trademark Bidenism. He accused his peers of underselling the trillions of dollars that a “Medicare for all”-style plan might cost, turning toward two more progressive rivals — Senator Kamala Harris of California and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York — to level the kind of zealous defense of center-leftism that has often escaped him in this campaign: “I don’t know what math you do in New York,” Mr. Biden said. “I don’t know what math you do in California. But I tell ya, that’s a lot of money.”

Throughout the evening, he plowed through a series of forceful defenses of his service alongside former President Barack Obama, frequently eager to wrap himself in Mr. Obama’s legacy on issues from health care to climate and never missing a chance to remind audiences of his association with sunnier Democratic times.

Join us for live analysis on debate night. Subscribe to “On Politics,” and we’ll send you a link.

Certainly, he did acknowledge some differences: He said he would renegotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major trade agreement for which he advocated as vice president.

Even while his record was under attack, Mr. Biden, 76, played the happy statesman, or tried to, occasionally slipping as he addressed far younger contenders. “Go easy on me, kid,” Mr. Biden said to Ms. Harris, a United States senator and former attorney general of California who is 54 years old, as they took the stage.

In an exchange with Julián Castro, the former federal housing secretary and San Antonio mayor, Mr. Biden referred to him as “Julián” and then thought better of it — “excuse me, the secretary.”

Discussing criminal justice reform with Senator Cory Booker, who has been sharply critical of Mr. Biden’s record on that matter, he jokingly skipped ahead, calling him the president and stopping himself as he lightheartedly grabbed Mr. Booker’s arm — “excuse me, the future president.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 31debate-moment2-articleLarge Joe Biden Did Fine, and That Might Have Been Enough United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Presidential Election of 2020 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) Medicare Health Insurance and Managed Care Harris, Kamala D Democratic Party Debates (Political) de Blasio, Bill criminal justice Castro, Julian Booker, Cory A Biden, Joseph R Jr

Mr. Biden asked Senator Kamala Harris to “go easy” on him before the debate began.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

And in an opening statement that seemed to reinforce the introductory theme of his campaign — taking relentless aim at President Trump — Mr. Biden nodded to the diversity of fellow Democrats onstage, appearing sensitive to the balance of running against them as a white male septuagenarian.

“We are strong and great because of this diversity, Mr. President, not in spite of it,” he said, pushing back against Mr. Trump’s latest grievance-powered rhetoric. “So Mr. President, let’s get something straight. We love it. We are not leaving it. We are here to stay, and we’re certainly not going to leave it to you.”

[Sign up for our politics newsletter and join the conversation around the 2020 presidential race.]

Mr. Biden’s standing atop the field is far from assured, and some rival campaigns still consider him a paper-tiger favorite, doomed to crumble eventually under the weight of his lengthy record and indiscipline on the stump.

He has still struggled to communicate a detailed affirmative blueprint of what his presidency might look like and has yet to face Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has fashioned herself as the candidate with a policy plan for every occasion, on a debate stage.

And his first debate performance was so rocky, and so alarmed even close allies and advisers, that he did not have a high bar to clear Wednesday night.

But the forum provided a chance to articulate, at least in broad strokes, a compelling argument for the kind of deliberately paced change he is espousing, one night after Ms. Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders outlined their shared promise of far more extensive social and economic upheaval. It was also an opportunity to move beyond his disquieting showing five weeks ago, when an evening of wandering and defensive answers seemed to threaten a bedrock claim of Mr. Biden’s candidacy: that no other Democrat has the presence and moxie to stare down Mr. Trump.

That night in Miami, it was Ms. Harris who initiated the conflict, drawing on her personal experience with busing as a young black girl in California to castigate the former vice president for his warm remembrances of working with segregationist senators. Mr. Biden appeared flat-footed, defiant but sputtering, at one point stopping himself abruptly with an unfortunate phrase: “Anyway, my time is up.”

Entering Wednesday, Mr. Biden seemed determined to abandon such deference. As even admirers acknowledge that he can no longer float above the fray — with the fray savaging his long and often less-than-liberal record at every opportunity — Mr. Biden has in recent weeks demonstrated an increased willingness to engage, responding in kind to Ms. Harris and Senator Cory Booker, who has called Mr. Biden “an architect of mass incarceration.”

[Read our full recap of Night 2 of the Democratic debates.]

Some of Mr. Biden’s allies had described the first debate as a wake-up call for him — a reminder that, regardless of his previous relationships with these Democratic candidates, he could no longer expect the decorous treatment he enjoyed as vice president. His supporters urged him to focus on the future rather than rehashing the more controversial elements of his past.

“To the extent he spends his time getting wrapped up in relitigating statements or comments or votes from 30 or 40 years ago, I think we lose, all of us, collectively,” said Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat and close ally of Mr. Biden’s. “What is constructive is when our candidates put their best foot forward on the debate stage, and show how they would be the best answer to the question that Middle America is asking: If we give you back the keys, Democrats, where will you take us?”

Video

Westlake Legal Group 31debate-ledeall-1-videoSixteenByNine3000 Joe Biden Did Fine, and That Might Have Been Enough United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Presidential Election of 2020 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) Medicare Health Insurance and Managed Care Harris, Kamala D Democratic Party Debates (Political) de Blasio, Bill criminal justice Castro, Julian Booker, Cory A Biden, Joseph R Jr

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Kamala Harris sparred while fending off attacks from fellow candidates on health care and criminal justice reform.CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

At times on Wednesday, Mr. Biden appeared particularly keen to embrace the “middle” part. He made clear that he was familiar with his opponents’ records on sensitive matters like criminal justice and policing, issuing criticisms of those records that could have come from another candidate further to the left. But on immigration, Mr. Biden proudly adopted a more centrist mantle, at a time when many Democratic strategists fear some in the presidential field are veering too far with calls to decriminalize unauthorized border crossings. “The fact of the matter is, you should be able to, if you cross the border illegally, you should be able to be sent back,” Mr. Biden said. “It’s a crime.”

When pressed on the number of deportations that took place while Mr. Obama was in the White House — amid the shouts of some protesters — Mr. Biden staunchly defended the administration’s broader approach. But as Mr. de Blasio needled Mr. Biden over whether he had personally spoken up, Mr. Biden showed a flash of exasperation.

“I was vice president,” he said. “I am not the president. I keep my recommendation in private. Unlike you, I expect you would go ahead and say whatever was said privately with him. That is not what I do. What I do say to you is, he moved to fundamentally change the system.”

While Mr. Biden was crisper and more energetic on Wednesday than he was in the first debate, his verbal tics and signature self-interruptions were hardly eradicated. He still cut himself off, at times with a well-worn trail-off: “Anyway …”

Mr. Biden’s advisers said ahead of the debate that they anticipated that he would be the main target of the other candidates onstage, and candidates from Mr. de Blasio to Ms. Harris to Mr. Booker aimed to deliver. But throughout the debate, Ms. Harris was also the subject of repeated criticism across the stage, from Senator Michael Bennet on health care to Representative Tulsi Gabbard on criminal justice.

In one early exchange on health care, Mr. Biden signaled quickly that he would gladly join the effort. “You can’t beat President Trump with double-talk,” he said, accusing Ms. Harris of vacillating and equivocating in her health care plans. Ms. Harris landed some of her own zingers — “They’re probably confused because they’ve not read it,” she said of the Biden campaign’s critique of her proposal — but often found herself on the defensive, occasionally demoting the former vice president to “Senator Biden” as she collected herself for a response.

Ms. Harris and Mr. Booker are particularly eager to chip away at Mr. Biden’s expansive backing among black voters, who still recall him fondly from his eight years as Mr. Obama’s sidekick.

Yet one lesson of Mr. Biden’s first debate is how durable much of his support seems to be so far. While Mr. Biden initially saw his standing fall a bit in polls, with Ms. Harris especially rising, he appears to have reestablished a comfortable lead in recent surveys.

A Quinnipiac University national poll released Monday showed Mr. Biden well ahead of his competitors: He was the choice of 34 percent of Democratic voters and Democratic-leaning voters, the survey found, while Ms. Harris came in at 12 percent. Among black voters the numbers were starker: Mr. Biden had the support of 53 percent of black Democratic voters; Ms. Harris claimed only 7 percent.

Perhaps channeling some confidence from those poll numbers, Mr. Biden vigorously defended his own record throughout the debate, appearing more comfortable than he had in June.

Not every flourish worked. In his closing statement, Mr. Biden seemed to show his age a little while trying to promote a way to join his campaign. “Go to Joe 30330,” he said, apparently conflating a website with a text message destination. The result, instead, was malarkey.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Apple Reports Declining Profits and Slowing Growth, Again

Westlake Legal Group 30apple-sub-facebookJumbo Apple Reports Declining Profits and Slowing Growth, Again United States Trump, Donald J Software Smartphones Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Office of the United States Trade Representative Mobile Applications iPhone International Trade and World Market Desktop Computers Customs (Tariff) Cook, Timothy D Computers and the Internet Company Reports China Apple Inc 5G (Wireless Communications)

Apple has long performed like clockwork, growing steadily and producing an ever-growing stream of profit. Not anymore.

On Tuesday, the Silicon Valley behemoth said that its net income had fallen nearly 13 percent and that its revenue growth had slowed to 1 percent in the latest quarter, with iPhone sales continuing to decline and gains in the company’s services business failing to make up the difference.

The latest financial results showed persistent signs of weakness for what has been one of the world’s financial standouts. Apple built its enormous business on the back of the iPhone, but sales of the device have slipped for three straight quarters amid a saturated market for smartphones and the company’s struggle to find new buyers.

Yet the results Apple reported on Tuesday suggested that the company could be starting to halt declines in key areas of its business, including iPhone sales and revenue from the Chinese market.

Apple said net income had dropped to $10.04 billion for its fiscal third quarter compared with $11.5 billion a year ago. Revenue rose to $53.8 billion from $53.3 billion a year ago. Apple’s earnings beat analysts’ estimates of $2.10 a share.

Apple has tried to slow the bleeding in its iPhone business with new financing offers and a trade-in program for owners of older models after finding that people are keeping their iPhones longer. In the latest quarter, revenue from iPhone sales fell nearly 12 percent, to $25.97 billion, from a year earlier. In the company’s previous quarter, iPhone sales fell 17 percent.

Consumers are finding fewer reasons to upgrade their iPhones, analysts said, with newer models offering only incremental improvements. The trend could continue this year, when Apple is likely to unveil a new slate of iPhones. The latest models, which are expected to debut in September, are unlikely to work with the new fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless technology that offers far faster download speeds than current service. Apple is expected to have 5G iPhones for 2020, analysts said.

Apple said previously that iPhone sales were down 15 percent in the final three months of 2018, and it blamed the drop on economic weakness in China. Apple has since cut iPhone prices in China, and Timothy D. Cook, the company’s chief executive, said in April that the move had helped lift business there.

In the latest quarter, Apple’s sales in the region that includes China continued to improve. Sales there fell by 4.1 percent, compared with 25 percent and 21 percent drops in the prior two quarters.

[Get the Bits newsletter for the latest from Silicon Valley and the technology industry.]

The Chinese market has emerged as one of Apple’s greatest vulnerabilities. The region is the company’s No. 3 market for sales. This month, Chinese officials disclosed that the country’s growth had fallen to its slowest pace in three decades. Apple also assembles most of its products in China. The company’s supply chain has long drawn the ire of President Trump, who has tried to publicly pressure Apple to build more of its products in the United States.

The company has moved the other way instead, shifting assembly of its new top-of-the-line Mac Pro desktop computers to China from Texas. Apple’s attempt at making the Mac Pro in Texas turned out to be a headache, as production problems and a lack of manufacturing infrastructure in the area delayed the computer’s introduction.

Mr. Trump has placed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, including semiconductors, televisions and ball bearings, as part of a bruising trade war. So far, Apple products have largely escaped the tariffs’ effect.

Last week, Apple filed 15 requests with the United States trade representative’s office asking that certain products it imports from China be excluded from the tariffs, including components used in the Mac Pro desktop like power cables and circuit boards. Apple said in the requests that it cannot find the products outside of China.

On Friday, Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that Apple “will not be given Tariff waiver, or relief, for Mac Pro parts that are made in China” and that the company should “Make them in the USA, no Tariffs!”

Apple did not comment on Mr. Trump’s tweet. In the past, the company has called itself “an engine of economic growth in the United States.” It said that last year it spent $60 billion with 9,000 American suppliers, helping support 450,000 jobs.

Mr. Cook has encouraged officials in the United States and China to resolve the trade dispute, but the tensions have recently accelerated. And while the countries resumed trade talks this week, hopes for a transformative deal are dwindling.

Apple faces other issues in Washington, including antitrust concerns. Last week, the Department of Justice said it was opening an antitrust review of the Big Tech companies. Apple has come under particular scrutiny for how it wields power in its App Store, where it distributes games, ride-hailing programs and more.

As Apple’s iPhone sales fall, the company has sought to make up the gap in revenue with an expanding business selling apps and services to its existing customers. Apple now offers subscriptions for news, music and TV services and is preparing to launch a gaming service soon. Its services revenue rose more than 12 percent to $11.5 billion.

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‘Moscow Mitch’ Tag Enrages McConnell and Squeezes G.O.P. on Election Security

Westlake Legal Group 30dc-mitch-sub-facebookJumbo ‘Moscow Mitch’ Tag Enrages McConnell and Squeezes G.O.P. on Election Security United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising McConnell, Mitch Cyberwarfare and Defense

WASHINGTON — Senator Mitch McConnell is usually impervious to criticism, even celebrating the nasty nicknames that have been bestowed on him by critics. But Mr. McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is incensed with his new moniker, “Moscow Mitch,” and even more miffed that he has been called a “Russian asset” by critics who accuse him of single-handedly blocking stronger election security measures after Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Democrats had been making the case for months, but it was supercharged last week by the testimony of Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, who told the House Intelligence Committee that the Russians were back at it “as we sit here.”

Mr. McConnell cites several reasons for his opposition — a longstanding resistance to federal control over state elections, newly enacted security improvements that were shown to have worked in the 2018 voting and his suspicion that Democrats are trying to gain partisan advantage with a host of proposals. Republican colleagues say that Mr. McConnell, a longtime foe of tougher campaign finance restrictions and disclosure requirements, is leery of even entering into legislative negotiation that could touch on fund-raising and campaign spending.

But whatever Mr. McConnell’s reasoning, criticism of him for impeding a number of election proposals has taken hold — even back home in Kentucky, where the majority leader faces re-election next year.

“Democrats want more aggressive legislation to protect America’s elections after Robert Mueller’s stark warning about Russian interference,” began one report aired on a Louisville television station last week. “Mitch McConnell blocked it.”

Even President Trump felt compelled to come to his defense — as only he could.

“Mitch McConnell is a man that knows less about Russia and Russian influence than even Donald Trump,” the president told reporters Tuesday as he was leaving for a speech in Jamestown, Va. “And I know nothing.”

That did not relieve the heat on the majority leader, who on Monday had appeared to open the door ever so slightly to doing more on election preparedness.

“I’m sure all of us will be open to discussing further steps Congress, the executive branch, the states and the private sector might take to defend our elections against foreign interference,” he said as he seethed on the Senate floor over what he described as McCarthy-style attacks on his integrity and distortions of both his position on election security and his hawkish history of challenging Russia.

Throughout his political career, Mr. McConnell has made opposition to the Kremlin a hallmark of his foreign policy stands.

For once, Democrats seemed to be getting to a man who has embraced his portrayal as Darth Vader. When an unsubstantiated West Virginia Senate campaign ad in 2018 called him “Cocaine Mitch,” he began answering his Senate telephone with that identifier. “Moscow Mitch”? Not so much: “I was called unpatriotic, un-American and essentially treasonous,” he said.

Democrats pressed their advantage. And why not? #MoscowMitchMcTraitor was trending on Twitter, and Senate Republicans of all stripes were being asked about the blockade.

“So long as the Senate Republicans prevent legislation from reaching the floor, so long as they oppose additional appropriations to the states, so long as they malign election security provisions as, quote, partisan wish lists, the critics are right to say Leader McConnell and Republican senators are blocking election security,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said on the floor Tuesday.

Mr. Schumer has in the past suggested that another potential reason behind Mr. McConnell’s position is the thought that interference emanating from Russia could aid Republicans. “I hope it’s not because he thinks it will benefit him, because Putin could turn around in a minute, and then do things that he doesn’t like,” Mr. Schumer said in June.

Lawmakers in both parties have election security proposals waiting on the sidelines, and the furor has caused some to step up demands for Congress to take up their bills.

Senators Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, wrote on Monday to colleagues reconciling the annual House and Senate military policy bill to request that they include stalled sanctions legislation meant to deter Russia or other foreign actors from interfering in American elections. House lawmakers included a similar provision in their military policy bill, but the senators want to see it strengthened to slap Russia’s economy with intense sanctions if it is found to interfere in a future election.

“This conference committee represents this Congress’ best — potentially last — opportunity to enact meaningful legislation aimed at deterring Russia from a repeat performance of its 2016 presidential election interference,” the senators wrote. “We ask that you seize this opportunity and include the provisions outlined above in the final conference report.”

On Tuesday, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, signed on to a measure by Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the committee’s top Democrat, that would require campaign officials to report to federal authorities any offers of campaign assistance from foreign entities.

“Congress must take strong action to deter foreign nations from attempting to disrupt our elections,” Ms. Collins wrote on Twitter. “We should also move forward with securing our electoral process, the cornerstone of our democracy.”

Mr. McConnell’s opposition to any and all election legislation has bottled up the bills in the Senate Rules Committee. The panel’s chairman, Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, has hesitated to advance any of the bills since they would go nowhere on the floor.

Mr. Blunt said he repeatedly had been assured by the F.B.I., the Department of Homeland Security and the federal intelligence agencies that they were not lacking resources to combat election interference.

“They always say, ‘No, we don’t need anything,’” Mr. Blunt said Tuesday. A former state elections official himself, Mr. Blunt said he agreed with Mr. McConnell that the federal government should not gain more authority over state elections.

“Mitch would not want to see us further federalize the process and that’s where I am, too,” Mr. Blunt said.

Proponents of the bills say they are devised to keep the states in the lead. A Democratic measure approved by the House would send more than $1 billion to state and local governments to tighten election security, but would also demand that states use the money for machines with backup paper ballots and require a national strategy to protect American democratic institutions against cyberattacks. States would be required to spend federal funds only on federally certified “election infrastructure vendors.”

A bipartisan measure in both chambers would require internet companies like Facebook to disclose the purchasers of political ads. Another bipartisan Senate proposal would codify cyberinformation-sharing initiatives between federal intelligence services and state election officials, speed up the granting of security clearances to state officials and provide federal incentives for states to adopt backup paper ballots.

Backup paper ballots got an endorsement Tuesday from an unlikely source: Mr. Trump.

With the focus on the issue intensifying, Mr. McConnell and Senate Republicans will face more pressure to act.

If they do, the most likely result would not be advancing stand-alone bills but instead using the annual spending bills that must pass this fall to funnel more money to states to secure their elections and to make certain they have a paper-ballot trail that can be audited if questions arise about the legitimacy of an outcome. Ten states now lack full capacity to do so, according to the Rules Committee.

Mr. Schumer encouraged that idea Tuesday. “If McConnell wants to address election security in the appropriations process, we would welcome his support on an amendment to send more funding to the states,” he said. “We want to get something done on election security because this is not about party, this is a matter of national security.”

Mr. McConnell said Monday that he would not be intimidated into acting on election interference.

He also will probably not be answering his phone “Moscow Mitch.”

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Trump Hails African-American Contributions to America Amid Battle With Black Critics

JAMESTOWN, Va. — President Trump hailed the contributions of African-Americans to the building of the nation during a ceremony on Tuesday paying tribute to democracy in the New World, even as he continued to wage war on some of his most prominent black critics.

The president’s elevated and scripted words honoring 400 years of representative government in the Western Hemisphere and the role played by African-Americans stood in sharp contrast to the acerbic attacks he made beforehand on a black congressman and his Baltimore-based district.

But the bitter, racial furor of recent days, punctuated by his latest comments assailing Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, followed Mr. Trump to Jamestown, where elected representatives first met in 1619. Virginia’s African-American state lawmakers boycotted his speech, calling the president an “emblem of hate” who does not represent the best ideals of the nation.

One state lawmaker, Ibraheem Samirah, stood and interrupted the president’s speech, holding up a sign that said, “Go Back to Your Corrupted Home” and “Deport Hate.” Mr. Samirah, a Democratic state delegate and a Palestinian-American, shouted: “Mr. President, you cannot send us back. Virginia is our home.” He was led out politely by police officers.

Mr. Trump made no response nor did he reference the broader controversy during his speech, but instead made a point of highlighting that this year is also the 400th anniversary of the first slaves brought to America.

“Today, in honor, we remember every sacred soul who suffered the horrors of slavery and the anguish of bondage,” he said, adding, “In the face of grave oppression and grave injustice, African-Americans have built, strengthened, inspired, uplifted, protected, defended and sustained our nation from its very earliest days.”

Just hours earlier, Mr. Trump again disparaged Mr. Cummings, whom he has accused in recent days of running a “disgusting” congressional district. “Baltimore is an example of what corrupt government leads to,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he left the White House. “I feel so sorry for the people of Baltimore, and if they ask me, we will get involved.”

Mr. Trump offered no evidence of corruption nor did he explain on what he based such an accusation. But he made clear he was unwilling to back down in a continuing war of words that has aggravated racial tensions and left many of his own advisers concerned that he was turning off suburban voters who could be a key to his re-election next year.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158648511_b206214e-14c9-4ad3-a092-272f28a1a60a-articleLarge Trump Hails African-American Contributions to America Amid Battle With Black Critics Trump, Donald J Sharpton, Al Race and Ethnicity Northam, Ralph S Jamestown (Va) Herring, Mark R Fairfax, Justin Edward Cummings, Elijah E

“Mr. President, you cannot send us back. Virginia is our home,” Ibraheem Samirah, a Democratic state delegate and a Palestinian-American, said during the speech.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Facing questions about his apparent willingness in recent days to divide his supporters and opponents along racial lines, Mr. Trump insisted that he was the “the least racist person there is anywhere in the world.” Then he called the Rev. Al Sharpton, another recent adversary, “a racist.”

This line of self-defense came a day after the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, which represents elected members of the House of Delegates and the State Senate, said in a statement that its members could not “in good conscience sit silently” as a president who has promoted racial divisions is given such a prominent platform.

“It is impossible to ignore the emblem of hate and disdain that the president represents,” the caucus said in its statement. The statement added that Mr. Trump’s “repeated attacks on black legislators and comments about black communities” made him “ill suited to honor and commemorate such a monumental period in history, especially if this nation is to move forward with the ideals of ‘democracy, inclusion and opportunity.’”

The lawmakers’ protest came as Mr. Trump has employed racist tropes repeatedly in recent weeks. He told four Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to their home countries, even though three were born in the United States and the fourth was naturalized as a teenager. In the last several days, he has repeatedly assailed Mr. Cummings and his “rat and rodent infested” majority-black district and targeted other foes like Mr. Sharpton, who he said “Hates Whites & Cops.”

Mr. Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, has emerged as a major foil for the president as his panel presses investigations into Mr. Trump’s administration. Last week, the committee authorized Mr. Cummings to subpoena work-related emails and text messages on personal devices of White House officials, including Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter, and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law.

“I think that Representative Cummings should take his oversight committee and start doing oversight on Baltimore,” Mr. Trump said.

Aides said that the subpoena move last week riled Mr. Trump and helped fuel the anger that had been on public display since Saturday. The president has also bristled at Mr. Cummings’s criticism of how detained migrants are being treated at the border, saying that the lawmaker should first worry about what Mr. Trump called the dismal conditions in his own district.

As he took questions for over 10 minutes on Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump appeared not to know that a boycott in Jamestown was being planned, saying he would be “shocked” if opponents of color were declining to attend the event.

“If that’s the case, they’re fighting against their people,” Mr. Trump said, as he claimed that his administration had been receiving calls nonstop praising his comments on Baltimore. “The African-American people have been calling the White House. They have never been so happy about what a president has done.”

Mr. Trump at the Jamestown Settlement Museum. Hours earlier, he continued his war of words that has aggravated racial tensions.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

The ceremony on Tuesday at the Jamestown Settlement Museum marked the first meeting of elected legislators in the New World. On July 30, 1619, a group of 22 representatives of plantations or settlements gathered in a church in Jamestown for the first time in what would be known as the House of Burgesses, the precursor to state legislatures and Congress in the centuries to come.

The event was already fraught for African-American lawmakers because of the anniversary of slavery. The caucus held alternative events in Richmond, including a wreath-laying at the Virginia State Capitol to honor African-American lawmakers who served after the Civil War.

The idea was to focus “on those individuals who fought for a more just, equitable and inclusive democracy,” said Senator Jennifer McClellan, the group’s vice chair.

But Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fairfax, Virginia’s only African-American statewide elected official and a Democrat, attended Tuesday’s ceremony, saying beforehand that the twin anniversaries “far supersede the petty and racist actions of the current occupant of the White House.”

In an essay posted on Medium, he said: “The bigoted words of the current president will thankfully soon be swept into the dustbin of history. Our democracy, born in Virginia, will live on.”

Virginia has been roiled by its own controversies this year. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, has rebuffed widespread calls to resign after the discovery of a 1984 medical school yearbook that included a picture of a man in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan robes on his personal page. Mr. Northam at first admitted being in the photograph, then denied that he was either man.

The state’s attorney general, Mark R. Herring, also a Democrat, later admitted that he once wore blackface at a party as a college student. And Mr. Fairfax has been accused of sexual assault by two women.

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Mr. Trump dismissed questions about whether he was hurting himself politically by relentlessly fueling racial tensions in recent days.

“I think I’m helping myself,” Mr. Trump said. “These people are living in hell in Baltimore.”

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