Desperate President on the Loose

Andrew Harnik/AP

Here’s a quick attempt to piece together a very disturbing situation.

This is from Bloomberg

President Donald Trump’s top advisers are embroiled in a debate over how aggressively to proceed on reshaping U.S. participation in the North American Free Trade Agreement, with hard-liners favoring a threatened withdrawal as soon as this week and others advocating for a more measured approach to reopening negotiations with Canada and Mexico.

Some of Trump’s advisers want a dramatic move before Trump’s 100th day in office on Saturday to fulfill a key campaign promise, while others say he can let the milestone pass and revisit the issue later through more formal procedures, according to two White House officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

And from Politico

Peter Navarro, head of Trump’s National Trade Council, drafted the executive order in close cooperation with chief White House strategist Steve Bannon. The order was submitted this week to the staff secretary for the final stages of review, according to one of the White House officials.

There are obviously sharply divergent opinions on NAFTA: what it did in the 90s and what it continues to do today. But I think most observers would agree that a precipitate withdrawal from the agreement would at least have severe short-term repercussions for all three economies, purely on the basis of the disruption of trade flows and businesses that are based on its being in place.

But the key is that this appears to be being driven by the President’s ego wound about having accomplished virtually nothing during his first 100 days in office. I doubt Navarro and Bannon are driven by that. But they seem to have found an opening to do this because the President is that desperate for an accomplishment.

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