Washington Post: Trump scores political win with signing of North American trade deal, but pact faces challenges in Congress
President Trump celebrated a major political win Friday, joining the leaders of the Mexican and Canadian governments in signing a new North American trade deal that overhauls the rules governing more than $1.2 trillion in regional commerce and closes the door on a quarter-century of unbridled globalization.
In a half-hour ceremony in a downtown hotel, the president lavished praise on the agreement, calling it a “truly groundbreaking achievement,” and he nodded to his blue-collar base with claims that the measure would promote “high-paid manufacturing jobs” and farm exports.
But the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement faces uncertain prospects in Congress next year, where Democrats will control the House of Representatives and may be reluctant to help the president fulfill a 2016 campaign promise as he gears up to run for reelection.
Friday’s ceremony was relatively subdued, save for Trump’s acknowledgment that the trio had done “battle” to reach an accord.
Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose relationship has been rocky, interacted cordially, though Trudeau resisted Trump’s re-branding effort and called their handiwork a “new North American Free Trade Agreement.”
Wall Street Journal: Steel Tariffs and Hot Economy Take Toll on Infrastructure Projects
A light-rail extension in California. An interstate highway in West Virginia. A new ferry terminal in Washington.
State and local governments could have to pay millions of dollars more to finance these and other infrastructure projects around the country, as the Trump administration’s steel tariffs combined with a strong economy and a tight labor market push construction costs higher.
In Dover, N.H., city officials will have to make cuts to next year’s capital improvement budget after the winning bid on a flood-control project came in $1.5 million higher than the city’s $3.3 million estimate. “It’s not a project that we can delay,” said Michael Joyal, the city manager.
The project involves installing hundreds of feet of steel-reinforced concrete pipe under an active railroad track. Glenn Cairns, president of George R. Cairns and Sons Inc., who won the bid, said the difficulty of the job pushed up costs along with higher steel prices, which he hopes to lock in with suppliers before they rise again.
“We’re seeing steel and a lot of commodities going up, as well as labor,” said Mr. Cairns. “Everything is on the rise.”
Through October, the price of diesel fuel was up 27%, asphalt-paving mixtures were up 11.6% and steel-mill products were up 18.2%, all compared with a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Tariffs of 25% on steel imported from China and other countries imposed in June have given domestic steel makers leverage to raise their own prices, say analysts.
San Gabriel Valley Tribune: In a stunner, this new city is trying to muscle in to buy the 2500 acre Tres Hermanos Ranch property
In a move that stunned three cities working to map a future for one of the largest remaining open spaces in the region, a small southeast Los Angeles County community has launched a $42 million effort to wrestle the ranch land away from the City of Industry.
Industry and Chino Hills, one of the cities with jurisdiction over the near pristine, 2,500-acre Tres Hermanos Ranch, already have threatened to sue if Commerce moves forward with its bold venture.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Konrad Bartlam, Chino Hills’ city manager. “If they think we wouldn’t sue them, as we have sued Industry, they’re completely crazy.”
Industry, which has owned Tres Hermanos through its former redevelopment agency for decades, was approved to buy back the land on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County by a county oversight board last year, but it has not closed the deal yet because of a series of ongoing lawsuits.
The city of roughly 200 residents had to buy back the land when redevelopment agencies across the state were forced to dissolve.The state Department of Finance has signed off on the deal, said Jamie Casso, Industry’s city attorney.
“It’s mind-boggling that anybody would think that this is possible,” Casso said of Commerce’s move.
Sacramento Bee: Could this obscure California state agency derail Jerry Brown's Delta tunnels?
As Gov. Jerry Brown leaves office, his controversial Delta tunnels plan is on the ropes.
Most farmers who would get water from the tunnels still haven’t agreed to pay their share. Rather than support the tunnels, the Trump administration is trying to bend federal environmental laws to simply deliver more water through the existing Delta system to San Joaquin Valley farms and cities — and just rejected the project’s request for a big startup loan. Brown’s successor, Gavin Newsom, says he would like to see the project scaled down. Lawsuits challenging the project abound.
Amid that uncertainty, an obscure state council is poised to send the $16.7 billion project back to the drawing board — potentially throwing another roadblock at the tortured, decade-long plan.
On Dec. 20, the Delta Stewardship Council will vote to determine whether the tunnels project — officially known as California WaterFix — complies with what’s known as the “Delta Plan,” a set of policy goals, mandated by state law, that put protection and restoration of the fragile estuary’s eco-system on an equal footing with more reliable water supplies.
The council was formed in 2009, when the Legislature passed the Delta Reform Act. The law established that water supply and eco-system improvements were “coequal goals” that must be met when it comes to managing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the hub of California’s north-to-south water delivery system.
Now the council appears on the verge of ruling that WaterFix doesn’t measure up.
CALMAtters: Those flipped House seats created a visible blue wave - but big blue shifts lurked beneath the surface
No doubt you’ve heard about the blue wave: the electoral tsunami of left-of-center enthusiasm that slammed into California on election day, flipping seven of 14 GOP-held congressional districts to the Democrats. But that was just the wave’s frothy cap.
For every single congressional district that featured a face-off between a Democrat and Republican in this midterm and the last, the California electorate shifted further blue. The average Democratic gain was 9 percentage points since 2014.
As the sea of leftward pointing arrows above shows, Democrats amassed a larger share of the vote in all but five districts this year, including several that stayed in GOP hands. In 2014, for example, Central Valley Republican Rep. Devin Nunes won 72 percent of the vote. This year (at last count) he snagged a slim majority of 53 percent.
There was a leftward shift in most solidly blue districts this year too. Take Rep. Ted Lieu in Torrence. In 2014, he won his seat by a little less than 60 percent of the vote, leaving 41 percent of the vote for his Republican opponent. This year, he won by an even more resounding 70 percent.
Henry Olsen: A Bad Beat for Republicans - But Not Fraud
Plenty of Republicans and Trump fans are crying foul at the number of congressional seats that have moved towards the Democrats since Election Day. Insinuations or outright accusations of orchestrated voter fraud fill my Twitter feed. I understand why people are upset—but there’s no hanky panky afoot. Our election system is broken, but it is not saturated with fraud.
Let’s take a look at the California results. Republicans led in five closely contested congressional districts as vote counting ended on the Wednesday morning after the election. Most Republicans looked at that and said, “We won!” The experienced observer, though, noted how few votes had been cast in each contest. Compared to similar seats in the rest of the country, it was clear that only about half of the votes had been counted. There was more than enough left to be counted to change the results, unless California had significantly lower voter turnout than anyplace else.
It also should have been clear that those votes would favor the Democrats. That was true for two reasons. First, we have years of experience that ballots arriving on or after Election Day typically favor Democrats in California. Second, the Election Night results would have indicated that California, arguably ground zero of #TheResistance, was more pro-Trump than similar seats in every other state. No one could be sure how many votes Democrats would gain in these seats, but it was painfully clear that they would gain.
Now that the votes are nearly fully counted, we have no evidence of anything amiss. The margins of victory for each Democrat are in line with the baseline presidential results from 2016. Despite fervent GOP hopes, moderate anti-Trump Republicans who voted for Clinton in 2016 clearly voted straight Democratic in 2018. Not one of the seats that moved after election day exhibits a result out of the ordinary given the underlying partisan trends at work.
Nor is the turnout unusual given the national trends. David Wasserman, a premiere political analyst for the Cook Political Report, complies a spreadsheet on the House voting in each district after each cycle. This year he computes how the midterm votes compare to the number of votes cast in 2016. California’s statistics are again in line with what similar seats elsewhere in the country have shown. The only difference between these seats is that most states, with many fewer mail ballot votes to count, finished their task sooner.
The fact is that different types of people cast ballots in different manners and at different times. Since partisanship often follows these types of differences, like age and education, ballot types can often have clear partisan indications.