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A cargo ship at the Los Angeles port

A cargo ship at the Los Angeles port on Aug. 8. Credit: EPA/Etienne Laurent

The cost of trade war

President Donald Trump is still promoting the fable that China, not U.S. consumers and businesses, is eating the cost of his trade-war tariffs. New data suggests otherwise.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said 42.5% of the 100 factories it surveyed across the state this month had hiked their selling prices in response to higher tariffs on imports from China and elsewhere, while only 10% lowered prices, reports Newsday's James T. Madore.

In a separate poll of retailers and other service firms on Long Island, in New York City and its northern suburbs, almost four in 10 said they have raised their selling prices.

J.P. Morgan estimates the tariffs are already costing households $600 a year and a bigger bite — $1,000 a year — is coming from a new round of tariffs scheduled to begin Sept. 1 and in mid-December.

Trump on Monday tweeted that "Our Economy is very strong." He's blaming Democrats and the "Fake News Media" for spreading economic gloom to undermine his re-election chances. But a survey also out Monday found 38% of U.S. business economists predicting a recession in 2020 and 74% forecasting a downturn by the end of 2021. There are increasing signs that Trump is more worried than he'll admit.

He delayed tariffs on an array of popular Chinese-made consumer goods to ward off sticker shock during the holiday shopping season. He's calling again on the Fed to slash interest rates and attacking it and the chairman he appointed, Jerome Powell, for a "horrendous lack of vision."

In a new sign of White House anxiety, The Washington Post reports senior officials have begun discussing whether to ask Congress for a temporary cut in the payroll tax, which finances Social Security and Medicare, as a way to alleviate an economic slowdown. The tactic to shore up consumer spending was last used during the Obama administration.

Planned Parenthood's tough choice

Planned Parenthood said Monday it's pulling out of the federal family planning program rather than abide by a new Trump administration rule that prohibits clinics from referring women for abortions.

"Our patients deserve to make their own health care decisions, not to be forced to have Donald Trump or Mike Pence make those decisions for them," said Alexis McGill Johnson, the group's acting president and CEO.

Johnson said the nationwide network of health centers would remain open. But she predicted the loss of funds will cause many low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood services to "delay or go without" care.

Shooting blanks on gun violence

Trump appears to be wobbling from the support he voiced after recent mass shootings for strengthening background checks on gun buyers.

His Aug. 7 vow that "we can bring up background checks like we’ve never had before" has devolved to "we already have a lot of background checks."

Democratic critics are feeling déjà vu.

“We’ve seen this movie before," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. "President Trump, feeling public pressure in the immediate aftermath of a horrible shooting, talks about doing something meaningful to address gun violence, but inevitably, he backtracks in response to pressure from the NRA and the hard right."

Claim un-Warren-ted, she says

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, seeking to put a political liability behind her, offered a public apology Monday to Native Americans over her past claim that tribal heritage is part of her ancestry.

"I am sorry for the harm I have caused," said at a forum on Native American issues in Sioux City, Iowa. "I have listened and I have learned a lot."

Warren faced a backlash last year when she promoted the results of a DNA test revealing that she has some native ancestry going back six to 10 generations. Advocates as well as the Cherokee Nation ripped her for seeming to appropriate a tribal identity when she is not a citizen of any tribe.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that activists' concerns are more than symbolic: White contractors with dubious claims to Native American heritage have since 2000 won more than $300 million in funding intended for minority-owned businesses.

Warren presented a policy agenda addressing Native American issues last week and was warmly received at the forum.

Panning for Hamptons gold

Democratic presidential hopefuls in search of big-dollar donations are getting in their visits to the Hamptons before the summer winds down, Bloomberg News reported.

Last weekend, Teslas and Maseratis lined an East Hampton street as Kamala Harris greeted guests at a fundraiser hosted by movie executive Jamie Patricof and his wife Kelly.

Harris' event on Sunday night went head to head with one at musician Jon Bon Jovi’s house for Cory Booker. Next weekend, Joe Biden will be in the Hamptons, followed by Pete Buttigieg over the Labor Day weekend.

Not making the East End scene: progressives Warren and Bernie Sanders, who have pledged not to take big-dollar donations, at least during the primary season.

Hits and missus

Still fuming about newly minted anti-Trumper Anthony Scaramucci, the president of the United States used his Twitter account to spotlight the rough patch in Scaramucci's marriage during his brief tenure as White House communications director.

"Said his wife was driving him crazy, 'something big' was happening with her. Getting divorced. He was a mental wreck. We didn’t want him around. Now Fake News puts him on like he was my buddy!" the president decided Americans and the world should know.

The Scaramuccis have long since reconciled. Scaramucci posted his wife Deidre's response to Trump's tweet: “I don’t really like being tweeted at by @potus on a Monday morning but at least I had my coffee!”

No reconciliation is foreseen between Trump and Scaramucci, who are pronouncing each other "unstable."

Trump trolls self on Greenland

Is even Trump finding his musings about buying Greenland far-fetched?

A Trump tweet that bordered on self-deprecation — unfamiliar territory for Trump — showed a doctored photo of the golden 64-story Trump International Hotel Las Vegas dwarfing small pastel-colored houses dotting a Greenland village.

“I promise not to do this to Greenland!” Trump said.

The Hill reported that the image appeared earlier on the Instagram account of Trump's son Eric.

The Danes and Greenlanders still may be more aghast than amused.

What else is happening:

  • Biden's online fundraising has gone into a slump after a big haul of $4.6 million when he first joined the race, Politico reports. He's getting high-dollar donors at in-person events, but the poor online showing suggests a shortage of grassroots enthusiasm.
  • Enthusiasm is overrated when compared to electability, Jill Biden, the former vice president's wife, told voters in New Hampshire. "Your candidate might be better on, I don’t know, health care than Joe is, but you’ve got to look at who’s going to win this election," she said.
  • Julián Castro on Monday became the first and only White House contender to unveil an animal welfare policy. It would end euthanization in animal shelters, establish pet-friendlier federal housing policies and make animal cruelty a federal crime.
  • Trump tweeted out a claim Monday that "Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton" in 2016, meaning "My victory was even bigger than thought!" PolitiFact looked into a research paper Trump's claim was apparently based on. The verdict: Nah. The Washington Post has further explanation.
  • A Reuters/Ipsos poll suggests stoking white grievances may not carry the same potency for Trump in 2020 as it did in 2016. People who rejected racial stereotypes were more interested in voting next year than those who expressed stronger levels of anti-black or anti-Hispanic biases, the survey found. In 2016, it was the reverse.
  • For those holding the fort at New York's City Hall, Politico writes, the mystery of Bill de Blasio's presidential campaign is not how it will end, but how he will then handle his remaining years as mayor. Will he wallow in lame-duckery or become re-engaged with a job that seems to bore him?

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