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Trade war's losers could include microchips, energy, banks

In this Aug. 12, 2019, photo specialist Peter Mazza works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Stocks of companies that do lots of business with China are obvious targets to sell when trade worries rise, and they’ve lagged sharply behind the rest of the market whenever President Donald Trump sends out a tariff tweet. But investors are also looking way beyond these first-order effects, as they pick out which stocks look most vulnerable to the trade war. 

Sometimes with President Donald Trump, it’s difficult to tell when he’s offering serious policy, when he’s intellectually spit-balling and when he’s trolling his adversaries. But regardless, it’s almost assured that Democrats will instinctively, reflexively and vigorously oppose anything Trump does.

An amusing thought experiment would be to see how far Trump could push in leading us into a political Bizarro World. If, for instance, he proposed an assault weapons ban, would Democrats respond by touting the sanctity of the Second Amendment?

We don’t have to wonder, however, when it comes to immigration. As the latest Trump administration proposal shows, Democrats have no problem reversing field in a heartbeat.

For most of Trump’s presidency, one of the most hotly disputed subtexts of the immigration debate has been what to do with children who appear at the border. U.S. officials, including Democratic lawmakers, know that every child and an accompanying adult seeking entry into the country are not a “family.” Many are. But often children are pawns in a gambit run by smugglers and other opportunists who realize their odds of gaining entry improve with a kid in tow.

The population of border-crossers, including children, has ballooned since the administration implemented its “zero-tolerance” policy in April 2018. Federal authorities had no choice but to separate children from adults. This stems from a 22-year-old court settlement between the Clinton administration and immigration activists, and its subsequent requirements.

Trump’s administration has struggled to execute this policy within the courts’ framework. Thus, Democratic lawmakers, who have offered little to enhance border security, became outraged and remained so.

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Just two months ago, South Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz told a group of immigration activists, “We don’t need a completely unnecessary border wall and we need the administration to end their family separation policy right now.” Also in June, Rep. Donna Shalala, another South Florida Democrat, told NPR, “We should not be doing this to children — unbelievable cruelty. ... These children should not be kept in detention for long periods of time. They must move them out as quickly as possible to their families and to sponsors.”

So last week the administration announced a new policy to keep families together during detention as they await processing through immigration court, and to craft a new policy while ending the 1997 settlement.

How did Democrats respond to keeping families together? Wasserman Schultz: “Indefinite family detention is harmful, cruel and unacceptable.” Shalala: “I refuse to stand idly by as this callous administration continues to attack children by housing them in cages, separating them from their families, and seeking to place them in indefinite detention.”

In the immigration debate, Democrats repeatedly oppose everything Trump does, while offering counter-proposals that severely weaken national security, create chaos and propel America closer toward an open-borders society.

If Trump really wanted to beef up immigration restrictions, he should proclaim families can just enter the country, stay together and not worry about pursuit from ICE. Given the Democrats’ approach as the “loyal opposition,” we could expect construction of the wall to begin soon afterward.

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REPRINTED FROM THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH.

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