Archive for March, 2018

From Candidacy to Congress

Thursday, March 29th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

The following candidates have won congressional primaries this year in districts where their party is largely in control. These party nominees almost certainly will win election in November and become House Members in the 116th Congress, which will convene in January 2019. Additional names will be added to the list following primaries in other states, which will extend until September. These bios are an initial version of the profiles that will appear in the 2020 Almanac of American Politics, which will be published by Columbia Books.

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Chuy Garcia; Illinois – 4

  • Arrived in Chicago as a 5-year-old immigrant from Mexico
  • Graduated from the University of Illinois
  • Spent 6 years on the Chicago City Council, 6 years in the State Senate, and 8 years in his current seat on the Cook County Board of Commissioners
  • Unsuccessfully challenged Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s reelection in 2015

Sylvia Garcia; Texas – 29

  • Graduated from Texas Woman’s University and received her law degree from Texas Southern University in Houston
  • In 1998 became Houston City Controller
  • Elected in 2002 to the Harris County Commissioners Court; the first woman, and first Latina to hold that position

Van Taylor; Texas – 3

  • Graduated Harvard College and Harvard Business School
  • Captain in the Marine Corps, winning awards for his services as a platoon commander and intelligence officer in Iraq
  • Elected to the Texas Senate in 2014, previously serving four years in the state House

Veronica Escobar; Texas – 16

  • Graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso
  • Taught Chicano Literature at UTEP
  • Served as El Paso County Commissioner
  • Served 7 years as El Paso County Judge


*These profiles were prepared by Richard Cohen, Chief Author of The Almanac of American Politics with the assistance of biographical and campaign information from the Ballotpedia, The Encyclopedia of American Politics, website. This content may not be copied or duplicated without permission from Columbia Books and Ballotpedia.

New Tariffs on China: Where does the American consumer fit in?

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

On Thursday, President Trump unveiled new trade restrictions on China that would block $50 billion in Chinese exports from entering the United States, according to Politico. Trump claimed the restrictions will “make us a much stronger, much richer nation.” The Trump administration created these restrictions as “punishment for Beijing’s intellectual property practices.” The targets of the restrictions are Chinese technology companies who, according to the administration, are forcefully taking from U.S. companies. The White House also plans to add “25 percent additional tariffs on certain products that are supported by China’s unfair industrial policy.”

These new restrictions are just the first step that the White House plans to take to “counter Chinese policies that U.S. technology companies argue force them to surrender billions of dollars in intellectual property and other proprietary information to gain access to China’s state-controlled economy.” Trump claims that the U.S. and China are in the midst of a very serious negotiation. He also wants to restrict Chinese companies from investing in certain sectors of the U.S. economy.

On Capitol Hill, there has been a cautious reaction from lawmakers. They support “cracking down on China but not at the expense of U.S. businesses and consumers.” Sen. Orrin Hatch said that his continued support is “contingent on the president choosing an appropriate remedy.” Rep. Kevin Brady, House Ways and Means Chairman, urged Trump to find a remedy that does not impose new taxes on products Americans buy.

Chinese retaliation is inevitable, especially in soybeans, aircrafts and other exports. However, Trump still believes he is coming through on his campaign promise to remedy Chinese “trade abuses,” no matter what the cost to the American consumer. The Trump administration uses China’s “Made in China 2025” plan as a central point in their argument to limit technological trade with China. The plan aims to “support growth in advanced industries and technologies, such as biopharmaceuticals, robotics and artificial intelligence, electric vehicles and next-generation telecommunications.”

Better Late than Never: Trump’s New Sanctions Against Russia

Thursday, March 15th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

The Trump administration announced that the U.S. will impose “new economic sanctions on two-dozen Russian individuals and entities for cyberattacks in the U.S. and meddling in the 2016 election, senior national security officials said,” according to The Hill. The Treasury Department will “freeze the assets and prohibit Americans from doing business with the accused Russians.” Some of the fraudulent organizations have already been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

This week, Moscow has been accused by the British government as well as United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley for various alleged crimes. British Prime Minister Theresa May “expelled 23 Russian diplomats and the U.S. has signed on to a joint statement with its Western European allies slamming Russia for the ‘abhorrent’ attack and demanding accountability from Moscow.” Nikki Haley

The Treasury also “continues to pressure Russia for its ongoing efforts to destabilize Ukraine, occupy Crimea, meddle in elections, as well as for its endemic corruption and human rights abuses.” The Russian government has been described as “reckless” and “irresponsible” in regard to their use of a military-grade nerve agent “in attempt to murder two UK citizens.” However, the central message of the new sanctions is to stop Russian election meddling. Robert Mueller has already charged most of the individuals connected with setting up an interference campaign in the 2016 election. In addition, the Treasury Department has “targeted two Russian intelligence organizations in retaliation for what officials described as widespread and persistent cyberattacks.” Further, government officials believe the attack cost companies and individuals billions of dollars worldwide and “wreaked havoc on the global shipping trade.”

To appoint or not to appoint, that is the question

Thursday, March 8th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

Since President Trump took office, “more than 2,745 political appointees have joined the federal government…including at least 187 former lobbyists and also 125 people with ties to conservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, the records show,” according to The New York Times. ProPublica posted the records of federal employees online, which also offers a “comprehensive look at how Mr. Trump is influencing the direction of the federal government.

Trump has not only influence the trajectory of the government with high-level cabinet appointees, but he has also “rewarded people who have been loyal to him or share his priorities,” such as a recent college graduate who earned a job as an aide to the commerce secretary after working on Trump’s campaign in New York for a few months. However, Trump has yet to fill about 35 percent of the positions needing Senate confirmation. Unlike other presidents before him, President Trump did not arrive in Washington with a long list of political friends. Therefore, he’s bringing in like-minded people from other aspects of his life to fill the positions, so far. At the White House alone, almost 60 former campaign workers have been hired. Many of the other hires are former lobbyists who “recently lobbied the agencies where they now work.” To work in the agencies on the same issues they previously worked on, these former lobbyists must comply with guidelines and sign an ethics waiver.

While no comparative database exists, experts say that the Trump appointments stand out in comparison with previous presidents. Thomas E. Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution said, “overall, my reading is that the Trump political appointees have less expertise, in their respective areas, than any presidential administration dating back to at least the Reagan era.” Internal staff believes that the “administration had appointed well-qualified staff.” Executive agency staff who have worked in their positions through multiple administrations say that the new appointees have added value.