Los Angeles Times: President Trump signs steel tariffs, aimed at China but may hurt allies instead
President Trump has repeatedly singled out China for the kind of unfair trade he aimed to curb Thursday when smacking tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. But in the fallout, China is the one emerging relatively unscathed.
Trump gave a reprieve to Canada and Mexico, for now, and suggested allies such as Australia also may receive exemptions. Countries around the globe, including Japan and South Korea, scrambled to get on the list. Leaders loudly condemned the move, which threatens to explode into a trade war and rupture America's most important alliances in Asia.
"This is not just about Japan," said Ken Onuki, director of general affairs at the Japan Aluminum Assn. "It's a violation of free trade."
Japan's trade minister called the decision "extremely regrettable," and South Korean officials said they might lodge a protest with the World Trade Organization.
China, the world's largest producer of steel and aluminum, denounced the tariffs as an affront to the international trade order. The country will take "effective measures" and safeguard its rights based on the damage caused, the Ministry of Commerce said on its website.
It probably won't feel much. China accounted for about 2.5% of U.S. steel imports last year, a result of previous restrictions. It exports a fraction of the aluminum the U.S. receives.
Politico: Trump Administration goes on offense, sues California over sanctuary laws
After more than a year on defense against a flurry of legal challenges to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, the Justice Department went on offense Tuesday, filing a suit against the State of California that alleges obstruction of federal immigration enforcement.
Filed in federal court in Sacramento, the lawsuit targets three sanctuary-focused laws that the California Legislature passed last year. Each was passed as part of a backlash against Trump’s vows to step up immigration enforcement.
The litigation is modeled on a lawsuit the Obama administration filed in 2010 against a controversial state law in Arizona that sought to crack down on illegal immigrants, SB 1070. That case resulted in a Supreme Court ruling finding that some provisions of the Arizona law unconstitutionally intruded into Congress’ right to set federal immigration policy.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions traveled to California to tout the new lawsuit on Wednesday morning in a speech to law enforcement officials in Sacramento.
“The Department of Justice and the Trump administration are going to fight these unjust, unfair and unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you,” Sessions told the California Peace Officers Association meeting. “We are fighting to make your jobs safer and to help you reduce crime in America. And I believe we are going to win.”
Sessions, who represented Alabama for two decades in the U.S. Senate, also compared California's defiance of federal immigration policy to southern states' long battle against the federal government over civil rights and desegregation.
CALMatters: California's new 'sanctuary' law will aid some immigrants but not all
One of the most controversial issues in Sacramento this year has been widely referred to as the “sanctuary state” law, which will take effect Jan. 1. It is intended to protect law-abiding immigrants from being set on a path to deportation after interactions with local police. But in immigrant communities and elsewhere, there is confusion about how the law will work and exactly what protection it provides. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure, named the California Values Act, into law after negotiations made it more palatable to law enforcers, who had protested it initially.
The author, state Senate leader Kevin de Léon, a Los Angeles Democrat, and others say the label is confusing because the term “sanctuary” has become political—a flashpoint in the immigration debate. The phrase originated with people who took sanctuary in churches. Undocumented immigrants continue to do this, and so far immigration officials have not gone to places of worship to arrest them. However, just being in California does not mean blanket protection from federal authorities. The state law sets up guidelines for California law enforcement agencies’ interaction with federal immigration authorities. Undocumented immigrants may still face deportation if they have committed crimes or are swept up in raids by federal agents at workplaces, in neighborhoods or other venues or are arrested individually.
The Values Act has been called a tool for public safety, put in place to ensure that immigrants continue to feel safe cooperating with local police as reporters of crimes and witnesses in court. Some police officials, including the chief of police in Los Angeles, endorsed the law for this reason.
CALMatters: Data Dig: Are foreign investors driving up real estate in your California neighborhood?
Back in 2006, about 10 percent of California single-family homes were purchased in all-cash transactions, according to the real estate data firm ATTOM Data Solutions. A decade later, it’s nearly 25 percent. That means a quarter of California’s extremely tight housing inventory is unlikely to go to households like the Rothenbergs—moderate-income families who need a mortgage to buy a home.
While all-cash buyers are often treated as a rough proxy for international buyers—the California Association of Realtors estimates they are more than twice as likely to pay in cash as domestic buyers—in reality they are more varied. Some are rich enough to not need to finance a first (or second or third) home, or simply prefer California real estate to the stock market. Private investment firms snapped up a ton of cheap homes during the foreclosure crisis—at one point more than one in three California homes was being purchased with all-cash. And increasingly older people, or their children, are liquidating assets to make all-cash offers.
But experts came to see foreign buyers as a bigger force in the market, and a contributor to the rise in single-family rentals California has seen the past 10 years.
“My guess would be that it’s flipped and that foreign buyers are now having a bigger impact than institutional investors,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM. “They aren’t a huge percentage of buyers, but certainly they are one of the reasons that the California market has bounced back so strongly from the recession.”
So what percentage of California’s housing stock is owned by foreign investors?
Politico: Kamala Harris keeps 'em guessing
Ask Sen. Kamala Harris about her aspirations for higher office and you’ll get an unsatisfying answer.
“I have aspirations to get through this interview,” the California Democrat says with a belly laugh.
One year into her stint in the Senate, the Democratic Party's newest rising star — and one of its most buzzed-about potential 2020 hopefuls — has cut a profile that offers few clues about her political aspirations. Expectations for her are especially high given that Harris hails from California, the center of the resistance engaged in an ongoing battle with the Trump administration.
Sitting with POLITICO reporters in her Capitol office last week for a rare extended interview, she offered detailed, philosophical answers largely devoid of the partisan talking points of other new Senate arrivals plainly eyeing the White House. In response to a softball question about GOP inaction on guns and immigration, she spoke at length without uttering the word "Republicans." Though she's not above taking swipes at President Donald Trump, Harris appears more at home working with Senate Republicans than wrangling with them.
Harris has also accumulated attention-grabbing moments on the job, such as when she skewered Attorney General Jeff Sessions over Russia and when she bucked her own party leadership on a major immigration compromise, arguing that it gave away too much to the president.
CALMAtters: California's middle class is in decline despite the state's immense wealth
California’s lush coastline, balmy climate and post World War II economic promise made it an easy sell as America’s middle class paradise in the 1950s.
“The California Dream of two or three generations ago was, `I’m going to move from a place that’s cold and flat to a place where there’s lots of opportunity,’” said Joel Kotkin, a presidential fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University in Orange. “`I’ll get a job in an aerospace factory, in an oil company. I’ll buy a house with a pool. I’ll die and go to heaven. And I’ll do it all in good weather.’”
Today the weather remains. But access to the California dream is being choked off.
Stratospheric housing costs, the exit of key companies and the failure to replace the jobs that left with them have downsized the state’s middle class.
Since 1970, California’s share of the middle class fell from 60 percent to just over half the population. That trend almost mirrors patterns across the country. The number of middle-income Americans slipped from 61 percent in 1971 to 50 percent in 2015, according to the Pew Research Center.
Washington Post: Democrats see a wave of enthusiasm but still face an identity crisis
Democrats cheered Tuesday’s primary elections across Texas, where more than 1 million of the party’s voters cast ballots — the biggest number in more than a decade. And a new class of rising stars emerged, among them Rep. Beto O’Rourke, now the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate challenging Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.
But the results also foreshadowed the unresolved identity crisis facing Democrats nationally as the primary season kicked off, leaving that coveted blue wave a real but still distant possibility.
One bitter U.S. House primary that drew the heavy-handed involvement of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee headed to a runoff with standard-bearers for the party’s establishment and liberal wings suspicious of each other and feuding over how best to take on President Trump. In another House primary, the liberal message of little-known former math teacher Mary Wilson carried her into a runoff with a higher-profile, better-funded candidate.
These squabbles, while at times seemingly parochial, could have sweeping implications for the future of Congress and the political soul of the party as it barrels toward November and then the 2020 presidential election.
At issue are vexing questions of ideology and style, forcing Democrats to decide whether to embrace or reject the outsiders who are driving the party hard to the left on issues such as universal health coverage and free college tuition.
Reactions among top Democrats to the tussles on Tuesday and to what may lie ahead range from roaring encouragement to unease. While there is widespread optimism about the record number of Democrats running, there are concerns that infighting could distract from the goal of hobbling Trump.
City Journal: Left and Lefter in California
The California Democratic Party’s refusal to endorse the reelection of Senator Dianne Feinstein represents a breaking point both for the state’s progressives and, arguably, the future of the party nationwide. Feinstein symbolizes, if anyone does, the old Democratic establishment that, while far from conservative, nevertheless appealed to many mainstream businesses and affluent suburban voters. The rejection of Feinstein reveals the eclipse of the moderate, mainstream Democratic Party, and the rise of Green and identity-oriented politics, appealing to the coastal gentry . It offers little to traditional middle-class Democrats and even less to those further afield, in places like the industrial Midwest or the South. In these parts of the country, bread-and-butter issues that concern families remain more persuasive than gestural politics.
To its many admirers back east, California has emerged as the role model for a brave new Democratic future. The high-tech, culturally progressive Golden State seems to be an ideal incubator of whatever politics will follow the Trump era.
Certainly, California is an ideal place to observe this shift, as radicalism faces no restraints here. The Republican Party has little to no influence in politics and culture and not much even among business leaders. For the Democrats, this vacuum allows for a kind of internecine struggle resembling that of the Bolsheviks after the death of Lenin. And just as happened then, a new Stalinism of sorts seems to be emerging—in this case, to the consternation not only of conservatives but also of traditional liberals and moderates of the Feinstein stamp.
Yet as California Democrats exult in what they see as a glowing future, they are turning away from the models that once drove their party’s (and the state’s) success—a commitment to growth, upward mobility, and dispersed property ownership. California’s current prosperity is largely due to the legacy of Governor Pat Brown, who, a half-century ago, built arguably the world’s best transportation, water, and power systems, and created an incubator for middle-class prosperity. Ironically, the politician most responsible for undermining this achievement has been Pat’s son, Governor Jerry Brown. Long skeptical of his father’s growth-oriented, pro-suburban policies, Brown the Younger put strong constraints on growth, especially when these efforts concerned the fight against global warming—a quasi-religious crusade. Battling climate change has awakened Brown’s inner authoritarian; he has lauded the “coercive power of the state” and embraced “brainwashing” on climate issues.