The term “Pyrrhic victory” comes to mind.
Less than 24 hours after being impeached by the House on abuse of power and obstruction charges, Donald Trump got to celebrate as the same chamber passed his NAFTA re-write, 385-41.
It wasn’t a surprise (passage became a foregone conclusion earlier this month after AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka effectively green-lighted the legislation), but it’s still a helpful talking point for a man who, as of Wednesday evening, became just the third US president in history to be impeached.
Speaking of that, the USMCA won’t be taken up by the Senate until after Trump’s trial ends. Meanwhile, any Democrats wary of impeachment backlash from their constituents over the holiday can now point to the USMCA as evidence that the president’s “Do Nothing” nickname for the opposition amounts to little more than sour grapes and meritless slander.
At the same time, Trump can probably count on the USMCA deal to help resurrect CEO confidence, which had plunged to the lowest since the crisis on one measure, and slipped noticeably on virtually all others.
That’s in sharp contrast to consumer sentiment, which has rebounded after slipping in August. The interim trade deal with China should also help when it comes to spreading a little C-suite holiday cheer.
Pelosi on Thursday said the “collateral benefit” for the president of getting the legislation over the finish line isn’t the point.
“We had an opportunity to do something very important for the American people, for America’s workers, and we could not let him stand in the way of that because he will go out and take credit”, she said. “This isn’t about him”.
No, it’s not. But he’ll make it about him, that’s for sure.
It’s been more than a year since the original version of “new NAFTA” was signed. Democrats claim the revisions they negotiated were the linchpin. “It’s much improved over the original NAFTA and much improved over the plan the president submitted to Congress”, Democrat Mike Thompson remarked. “We’ve got a package of protections for labor the environment and prescription drugs and it’s enforceable”.
Earlier this month, Wilbur Ross called the USMCA “the biggest trade deal in the history of the whole world”. (And yes, that’s even funnier when you hear him actually say it).
Speaking of Pyrrhic victories, stocks plowed to fresh records on Thursday, as investors brushed aside impeachment. 2019 could end up being the best year for the S&P of the entire bull market.
Treasury yields are moving back in the “right” direction too, where that means up quickly enough to telegraph optimism around the economy, but not so rapidly that anyone believes a tantrum is in the cards.
Now if only Trump could get the “Do Nothing” ISM to cooperate, he’d be in good shape.