Even Harley-Davidson Can’t Resist the Tug of Overseas Factories

Lauded by President Trump as a symbol of American manufacturing, the company hopes a new plant in Thailand will help it clear trade barriers to woo Southeast Asian buyers.

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A Trump Tweet For Every Occasion

WASHINGTON ? There is a game that critics of Donald Trump like to play on Twitter.

After each successive revelation or major development concerning his administration, people resurface his old tweets as a commentary on the pile of contradictions that is the Trump presidency. The veritable gold mine of information found on Trump?s Twitter page is a gift that truly keeps on giving ? offering detractors ample opportunity to note his hypocrisy at home and abroad.

?Trump is like Hallmark cards. There?s an old tweet to celebrate every occasion,? GOP strategist and CNN commentator Ana Navarro tweeted over the weekend, after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pledged to donate $100 million to a World Bank fund for women entrepreneurs that was proposed by Ivanka Trump.

When former national security adviser Michael Flynn announced Monday he would invoke his the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination amid the investigation into Russian interference in last year?s presidential election, critics highlighted statements Trump and his aides made about the investigation into Hillary Clinton?s emails, the IRS scandal of 2013, and Bill Cosby.

Trump in 2012 called on former President Barack Obama to appoint an ?independent counsel? to investigate leaks emanating from his administration. Last week, however, the president denounced the appointment of a special counsel to probe Russia?s alleged meddling in the election, calling it a ?witch hunt.?

In 2014, Trump remarked that Obama appeared ?exhausted,? and later boasted about his own stamina as ?one of my greatest assets.?

But Trump?s stamina didn?t fare too well during his first trip abroad over the weekend. A White House official said the president was ?exhausted? on Sunday when he dropped out of an event at the last minute in Saudi Arabia, the first stop of his trip to the Middle East and Europe. 

Trump regularly criticized the Obama administration for failing to stand up to Saudi Arabia, taking issue with the ?absolute fortune? the U.S. has spent to protect the Middle Eastern country.

Prior to the president?s arrival there, however, Trump?s administration announced it had sealed a $110 billion arms deal ? the largest in American history ? between the U.S. and Saudi King Salman?s government. Jared Kushner, Trump?s son-in-law, reportedly intervened to negotiate a lower price on a missile system for Saudi Arabia by personally phoning the CEO of Lockheed Martin.

In 2015, before he announced he was running for president, Trump criticized then-first lady Michelle Obama for not wearing a headscarf over her hair during a trip to Saudi Arabia. 

But when Trump and his family visited the Islamic nation this weekend, first lady Melania Trump did the same thing.

Trump regularly fumed at Obama and Clinton on Twitter for refusing to use the phrase ?radical Islamic terrorism,? accusing them of being overly politically correct.

Yet in a major speech in Riyadh over the weekend, Trump softened his rhetoric on Islam and offered praise for a religion he once said hated America. ?We are not here to lecture. We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship,? he said.

After Trump ordered a missile strike against Syria in retaliation for its use of chemical weapons last month, Twitter users tweaked the president for not seeking congressional authorization for the military action ? as he once called for during Obama?s administration:

Like his predecessor, Trump hasn?t had much luck halting North Korea?s missile launches. In fact, its leader Kim Jong Un on Monday ordered mass production of a medium-range ballistic missile. Yet, in 2012, Trump tweeted:

Trump also attacked Obama over the issue of transparency, criticizing the former president for refusing to release records.

Trump?s administration, however, refuses to make records of visitors to the White House available to the public. Moreover, the president has yet to release his tax returns ? a tradition followed by every presidential nominee in the last 40 years.

Perhaps the most egregious case of hypocrisy surrounding Trump centers on the game of golf. Trump constantly criticized Obama for spending his weekends playing golf, but so far during his presidency, he has spent far more time on the golf course.

The pace of earth-shattering revelations over the Russia investigations and the firing of former FBI director James Comey, in particular, prompted some Twitter users last week to resurface old Trump tweets in which he expressed concern over the direction the nation was headed.

One tweet even floated impeachment ? a subject the president?s lawyers are now researching in the unlikely event of attempts to remove him from office.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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While You Weren’t Looking, Trump Basically Killed Dodd-Frank

WASHINGTON ? As the nation?s capital has been consumed by the frothing chaos of President Donald Trump?s administration ? botched Muslim bans, sudden personnel changes and the chief executive?s erratic behavior ? a steady current of traditional right-wing orthodoxy is sweeping through the federal government. Whatever happens with Russia or the FBI, this tide is washing away former President Barack Obama?s second-greatest legislative achievement: Wall Street reform. And it?s all happening while you?re paying attention to something else.

Trump campaigned on conflicting promises about big banks. One minute, he was going to stick it to the corrupt financial insiders who had wrecked the middle class. The next, he?d vow to liberate our benevolent princes of capital from crushing regulations Obama had cruelly imposed.

Some of Trump?s populist rhetoric followed him into office. But the actual governing has been pure deregulation. Last week, a council of top regulators quietly met to discuss the future of the Volcker rule ? the most important structural change Obama established for the financial system. A few days later, a freshly installed Trump official went further, threatening to defang the rule ?unilaterally? by ?reinterpreting? its entire purpose.

The rule is basically dead, Keefe Bruyette & Woods analyst Brian Gardner wrote in a note to clients last Monday: ?Examiners can start giving banks the benefit of the doubt regarding compliance with Volcker almost immediately.?

The Volcker rule was conceived as an update to the Depression-era Glass-Steagall law, which banned traditional banks from engaging in risky, high-stakes securities ventures, which became the domain of investment banks, hedge funds and other firms that didn?t rely on federal support. Until its repeal in the 1990s, Glass-Steagall put an end to many conflicts of interest that had plagued banking during the Roaring Twenties, and prevented government subsidies from flowing into speculative securities schemes, which made it harder for big crazy asset bubbles to accumulate.

Glass-Steagall was as powerful as a sledgehammer, but only slightly more precise. The Volcker rule tried to draw a finer distinction. Instead of banning banks from the securities business outright, it only barred proprietary trading. Banks were no longer allowed to make reckless bets for their own accounts, but other types of trading to help clients meet legitimate market needs would be permitted. Done right, the Volcker rule would have been a technocratic improvement on Glass-Steagall, providing all the benefits of its New Deal predecessor without its costs.

It reflected the broader approach Obama and congressional Democrats took with Wall Street reform, treating the financial crisis as a mechanical malfunction best corrected by expert regulators who could write specific rules for nuanced situations. The economic system, they believed, could not be properly repaired with blunt instruments or lines in the sand.

Twenty-first-century banking is indeed a nasty thicket of money and numbers. But the financial crisis was more than a technocratic breakdown. It was an abuse of power. And the 2010 Dodd-Frank law didn?t really try to reshape the political dynamic between Wall Street and Washington. A handful of financial titans retained control over multitrillion-dollar institutions tasked with socially essential functions. They were not prosecuted for fraud, they continued to lobby both Congress and federal agencies with ferocity, and their firms continued to provide lucrative jobs for political operatives from both parties. Against this mountain, Obama set the willpower of individual regulators.

It didn?t work. Consider the Volcker rule, which ran into trouble almost immediately. ?One of the world?s largest banking firms? enlisted the Podesta Group ? a lobbying powerhouse founded by Democratic power brokers John and Tony Podesta ? to water down the rule in Congress. The Podesta Group still boasts about the effort on its website, under ?Wins.?

?The client?s desired language on the ?Volcker Rule? was passed into law,? reads the page, titled ?Challenging Wall Street Reform To Defend Jobs.? The lobbying barrage continued at the regulatory agencies, whose final version of the rule stretched to 300 pages of loopholes, exemptions and special considerations. Bank lobbyists succeeded in delaying the implementation of key elements of Volcker for years. Now the beast is being put out of its misery by Trump appointees with close ties to the financial industry, demonstrating that Wall Street?s political clout remains as strong as ever. Volcker?s destroyers will include former bank lawyer Keith Noreika, along with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, a Goldman Sachs alum, and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton, who served as Goldman?s bailout attorney.

A similar fate will soon follow for the derivatives regulations and other rules written during the Obama years. Even capital requirements, the simplest and last line of defense against bad bank behavior, are under assault following the resignation of Federal Reserve Governor Daniel Tarullo. We will never know if Obama?s tweaks and adjustments would have prevented or ameliorated another financial crisis. Today, big banks are bigger than they were before the crash, and are returning to pre-crash levels of oversight. The potential for financial turmoil under an erratic president is just as strong as the potential for foreign policy dislocation.

The one element of Dodd-Frank that will likely survive the Trump presidency is also the only aspect that seriously restructured the power relationship between government and finance. The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is important not because it involves a host of complicated new rules ? stealing from customers was illegal before, during and after the crisis ? but because it changes the way these protections are enforced. Prior to Obama, consumer banking products were regulated by five different agencies that competed with each other for ?assessment? fees paid by the banks they regulated. This gave banks political power over their regulators ? an agency that was too tough on consumer protection risked losing its banks, and the funding they brought, to another regulator.

Obama scrapped this regime in favor of a single consumer finance overseer, the CFPB, and charged lifelong consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren with setting up the agency and hiring critical personnel. This established a new power center in Washington capable of challenging not only big banks, but also broken bureaucracy. When Obama?s Education Department turned a blind eye to student loan abuses, the CFPB took action. It has returned over $11 billion in ill-gotten bank gains to customers since its inception.

So the next meltdown probably won?t be caused by consumer fraud. Other than that, we?re pretty screwed.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Dough kidding

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