May 6, 2019
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Resolution of U.S.-China trade dispute uncertain after threats of new tariffs on Chinese imports

Talks between America and China to resolve a year-long trade dispute appear to be on shaky ground today, after a threat from the president over the weekend to impose new tariffs on Chinese goods in retaliation for what he described as slow movements and concessions by the Chinese government.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday that he planned to raise levies on $200 billion in Chinese merchandise to 25% by this Friday, up from the current 10%. He also said he would "shortly" impose 25% tariffs on $325 billion in Chinese goods that haven't already been tariffed.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Chinese negotiators, including Vice Premier Liu He, were aiming to wrap up trade talks this week. The tariff threat from the president, however, could put the Chinese in a bind, as Beijing has maintained for the past year that China would not negotiate under threat.

However, NPR reports that stock markets, after dropping sharply on news of the new tariff threat, were recovering -- "a sign that investors may be seeing Trump's threat as a negotiating ploy that he is unlikely to follow through on."

The United States and China have been in a trade dispute for the past year over issues such as the Chinese trade surplus, alleged theft of intellectual property and forced technology transfers. President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a truce in December for further negotiations. The United States had aimed for a deal announcement on May 10.

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Last-Minute Legislating

Spin Control: Doing the budget the way it's always done doesn't make it the best way

By Jim Camden

Legislators are apt to defend their budget process as "this is the way it's always done." If that was a good reason, one might think we would still be hanging horse thieves, placing miscreants in the stocks and throwing debtors into prison for not paying bills, or doing any number of imperfect things we've stopped doing.

In truth, the "always done" defense is only applied by people who do it that way because it suits them.

It suits legislative leaders to hold on to the budget until the very end of the session to have some leverage over hard-to-handle lawmakers. It suits budget writers from each chamber to sequester themselves somewhere away from the madding crowd of colleagues and lobbyists to avoid being pestered for everyone's favorite six-, seven-, or eight-figure project. And then there's always that familiar refrain that negotiators can't speak freely if discussions are in the open, because they might be criticized for suggesting something that doesn't sit well with the folks back home, even if it does break a logjam that leads to the deal.

This process keeps the people and businesses who will pay for all the programs and salaries out of the loop for most of the key decision points...

Read the full column in The Spokesman-Review
Talent and Capital

The Seattle-area economy punches above its weight -- and that's a huge strength

By Jon Talton, The Seattle Times

Newcomers -- and there are many -- might think that the Puget Sound region's economy is so hot because of two Big Tech headquarters, along with the "legacy" power of Boeing.

It's understandable. Amazon and Microsoft are two of the five giants that make up America's technology royalty (Apple, Facebook and Google are in the Bay Area). We're on the cutting edge of software, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and so much more.

Boeing's operations, especially commercial airliners, anchor one of the world's top aerospace clusters (the other being Airbus in Toulouse, France). The company is not only the nation's largest manufacturing exporter, but also, especially with its defense divisions, a strategic asset.

Together, the three employ about 166,000 here in well-paid, high-skilled jobs. Boeing is Washington's largest private employer, with a workforce of 69,830 as of February.

It's hard to think of another similar-sized metropolitan area in the United States with anything close.

But this is only a start in explaining why Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue enjoys one of the strongest economies in the nation. How strong? Per capita gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, was nearly $81,000 in 2017. That compares with $61,000 in San Diego and $63,000 in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Larger Phoenix lagged in at $45,000...

Read the full column in The Seattle Times
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