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White House readies order on withdrawing from NAFTA

Donald Trump is pictured. | Getty

“It’s been very, very bad for our companies and for our workers, and we’re going to make some very big changes or we are going to get rid of NAFTA once and for all," President Donald Trump said in a speech last week. | Getty

The Trump administration is considering an executive order on withdrawing the U.S. from NAFTA, according to two White House officials.

A draft order has been submitted for the final stages of review and could be unveiled late this week or early next week, the officials said. The effort, which still could change in the coming days as more officials weigh in, would indicate the administration’s intent to withdraw from the sweeping pact by triggering the timeline set forth in the deal.

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The approach appears designed to extract better terms with Canada and Mexico. President Donald Trump pledged on the campaign trail to renegotiate NAFTA, a trade deal signed in 1994 by former President Bill Clinton that removes tariffs and allows for the free flow of goods and services between the three countries in North America. Trump in recent weeks has stepped up his rhetoric vowing to terminate the agreement altogether.

“NAFTA’s been very, very bad for our country,” he said in a speech last week in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “It’s been very, very bad for our companies and for our workers, and we’re going to make some very big changes or we are going to get rid of NAFTA once and for all.”

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

The draft executive order could be a hardball negotiating tactic designed to bring Mexico and Canada to the table to renegotiate NAFTA. But once Trump sets the withdrawal process in motion, the prospects for the U.S. pulling out of one of the largest trade deals on the globe become very real.

During his first days in office, Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, a sweeping 12-nation pact that was in the final stages of approval.

As part his “America First” approach, Trump promised to renegotiate multilateral trade deals including NAFTA, which he called a “job killer” and the “single worst trade deal ever." He has pledged that he will focus on bilateral deals that are more favorable to the United States.

Earlier this week, the U.S. imposed a new tariff on softwood lumber coming from Canada. The relationship between Canada and the U.S. has been tense in recent weeks since Canada lowered it's pricing on domestic milk, creating more competition for American dairy farmers.

The United States' relationship with Mexico has been fraught with more tension since the president has pledged to build a border wall that he claims Mexico will pay for.



Army secretary nominee: 'Liberal left' painting me as a 'hater'


“The liberal left has cut and spliced my words about terrorism and ISIS blatantly falsifying what I've said,” Dr. Mark Green wrote in a Facebook post. | AP Photo

President Donald Trump’s Army secretary nominee is accusing the “liberal left” of mischaracterizing and “blatantly falsifying” his comments on terrorism, the Islamic State and the LGBT community.

“The liberal left has cut and spliced my words about terrorism and ISIS blatantly falsifying what I've said,” Dr. Mark Green, a Tennessee state senator, wrote in a Facebook post early Tuesday.

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The post included a link to a Christian Fighter Pilot report . The site brands itself as a venue for Christians in the military, and the article accuses LGBT advocates of targeting Green over his religion.

“It would seem that this gentleman has figured out why certain people are cutting and splicing my words to paint me as a hater,” Green wrote, referring to the author of the report, which does not include a byline. “It will not stand.”

Green had been criticized for comments on a radio program in which he referred to Syrian refugees — whom he called “ISIS people” — and transgender bathroom-access fights as “evil.”

“Evil is crushed. So I’m going to protect women in their bathrooms, and I’m going to protect our state against potential infiltration of Syrian ISIS people through a refugee program,” Green said on the program.

The New York Times reported LGBT groups’ criticism of Trump’s selection of Green as Army secretary earlier this month. The American Military Partner Association, the largest group of LGBT military families, said Green has made “a shameful political career out of targeting LGBT people for discrimination.” The group’s president, Ashley Broadway-Mark, added that Green has a “vicious, anti-LGBT record” and “cannot be trusted to ensure all those who serve have the support they need and deserve.”

The Times noted that Green has a history of controversial statements regarding LGBT rights, including telling the Chattanooga Tea Party at an event last year that “if you poll the psychiatrists, they’re going to tell you that transgender is a disease.”

Green argued in his Facebook post, however, that he only called terrorists evil and suggested terrorists be crushed. He said he has “never and will never force my religion on anyone” and believes “every American has a right to defend their country regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion.”

“It's the radical left that won't allow the latter,” he said. “I have never considered myself a judge of anyone, but I have been a protector of everyone in this nation.”

Green is Trump’s second nominee to lead the Army. The first, Vincent Viola, withdrew his nomination in February after struggling to disentangle himself from his business ties. If confirmed, Green’s tenure would follow Eric Fanning, the first openly gay civilian leader of the Army.

Tara Palmeri contributed to this report.

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Ivanka Trump: Allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S. 'has to be part of the discussion'

Ivanka Trump: Allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S. 'has to be part of the discussion'

Ivanka Trump said that “there is a global humanitarian crisis that's happening, and we have to come together, and we have to solve it“ while her father President Donald Trump argues that refugees could be a national security risk. | AP Photo


White House reveals tax plan to slash corporate rate

White House reveals tax plan to slash corporate rate

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the Trump administration's tax plan “would pay for itself” through economic growth. | Getty

Trump’s tax overhaul would also boost the standard deduction for individual taxpayers.

By Aaron Lorenzo and Colin Wilhelm

04/26/17 09:19 AM EDT

Updated 04/26/17 02:01 PM EDT


President Donald Trump promised to slash tax rates for businesses and individuals, double the standard deduction and provide tax relief to help pay for child and dependent care expenses under a plan the White House released Wednesday to much hype.

At the same time, the plan would eliminate taxes that mostly hit wealthy taxpayers, including the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax, while promising to "eliminate targeted tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers."

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It’s a proposal that mostly repeats campaign pledges he made last year before the election, including a 15 percent tax rate for all business income and a higher standard deduction for individuals.

The Trump administration will get both “the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said earlier in the day.

“We’re going to get the whole thing,” Mnuchin said during an event hosted by The Hill, when pressed if the administration might instead settle for just tax cuts without paying for them through broader reforms. “We like hard challenges.”

Details of what Trump plans to propose — including slashing the top corporate rate from 35 percent to 15 percent and reducing and simplifying individual rates — have dribbled out over the past couple days. They largely match what he proposed during the presidential campaign, and the early reaction from political analysts and tax experts was that many congressional Republicans wouldn’t accept it.

But House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday said Trump’s plan is 80 percent aligned with House Republican proposals. He added that he likes the sneak preview he saw last night “a lot,” and insisted he was upbeat on tax reform.

“I feel very good where we are,” Ryan said at an event hosted by the law firm Baker Hostetler.

Ryan indicated he was open to revising a crucial part of the House GOP plan — a tax on imports known as border adjustability that Trump hasn’t embraced and that is dividing businesses.

“We all agree that in its present form it needs to be modified,” Ryan said. “We don’t want to have severe disruptions — if you’re an importer or a retailer heavily dependent on imports, we don’t want to shock the system so much that it puts them at a disruptive disadvantage.”

House Republicans have been counting on border adjustability to raise more than $1 trillion to offset the cost of tax cuts in their own tax reform plan.

Mnuchin didn’t slam the door on the idea.

"We don’t think it works in its current form," he said, adding he hoped to work with Republicans in the House and Senate to change it.

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