Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Wednesday, 19 December 2018.
ADMIN NOTE: Early Warning will not be published the week of 24 December 2018.
On my radar: History generally shows that the stronger the economy in the two years leading up to a re-election bid, the more likely a president is to be re-elected. In previous reports, I’ve written about the potential for a recession beginning 2019 or 2020, which would severely hamper President Trump’s re-election. Between fallout from the Mueller investigation; the 85 House investigations into President Trump, his family and associates; a recession; and his failure to deliver on key campaign promises — a balanced budget, a border wall, an end to funding Planned Parenthood, etc. — President Trump stands a good chance of being in real trouble regarding his 2020 re-election bid, even if he escapes impeachment by a Democratic majority House.
The President is scheduled to receive his intelligence briefing, have lunch with Secretary Pompeo, and participate in two Christmas receptions.
Shutdown: “We’ll see what happens. It’s too early to say” whether the government will shut down, according to President Trump on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are working with the White House to gauge what the president may be willing to sign, including a stop-gap short term spending bill to avoid a shutdown. Bottom line: It seems that President Trump doesn’t know which way he’ll go on a shut down, after a week of promising one. Either way, the president isn’t getting his $5 billion border wall this year. Or maybe any year. All this, despite the State Department announcing a $5.8 billion aid pledge to Central America and $4.8 billion in aid to Mexico; a combined $10.6 billion aid package.
Of Note: According to Marcelo Ebrard, the Mexican foreign relations secretary, the $4.8 billion gift — more than double current foreign aid to the country — “is good news, very good news for Mexico”. Mexico’s new president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) in a news conference said the package would go to develop jobs in the region. “I have a dream that I want to see become a reality … that nobody will want to go work in the United States anymore,” AMLO said.
Secretary Pompeo is scheduled to meet with the foreign minister of Finland, have lunch with the president, and meet with the foreign minister of Oman.
Defense Secretary Mattis: Nothing significant to report.
These are the last publicly reported locations of these ships. Conflict requiring an aircraft carrier/carrier strike group does not appear imminent.
The Carl Vinson (CVN-70) was last reported as having returned to San Diego.
The Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) was last reported as having returned to Norfolk.
The John Stennis (CVN-74) was last reported as conducting joint operations in the Arabian Sea.
The Harry Truman (CVN-75) was last reported as having returned to Norfolk.
The Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) was last reported as having returned to home port in Yokosuka, Japan.
The George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) was last reported as having returned to Norfolk.
Of note: According to their last reported locations, all aircraft carriers but one are back in home port, presumably for Christmas.
Bold indicates significant changes to last reported location or other amplifying information.
Significant House Activity:
- Nothing significant to report.
Significant Senate Activity:
- Nothing significant to report.
* Only events pertinent to national security are listed. Significant reporting will appear in this week’s Strategic and National Intelligence reports.
It’s decision day for the Federal Reserve, as they decide whether or not to raise interest rates. Some analysts expect a “dovish hike” of 25 basis points, which would put interest rates in line with Fed chairman Jerome Powell’s range of acceptability, but not threaten economic growth as much as a higher rate hike. Other analyst say there’s a possibility of no rate hike. After all the pressure from President Trump, it’s difficult to believe that the Fed governors wouldn’t raise rates and risk being seen as influenced by the president’s politicking.
Back in October, I was in attendance at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, where President Trump said he was pushing for another 10% tax cut for the middle class. The arena erupted and it was a major thing in the media for 15 minutes. In a recent Bloomberg interview, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin refused to comment on whether that was still on the agenda, saying instead that he was focusing on fixing some provisions of the last tax cut. Meanwhile, Democrats are reportedly looking at raising the corporate tax rate in the 2019 session. [source]
Lastly, some retailers are adding “Super Saturday” — the last Saturday before Christmas — to Black Friday and Cyber Monday as the major shopping days of the year. In fact, they say Super Saturday has become the “biggest single shopping day of the year”. [source]
What I’m Looking at this Morning
“We know historically, Tucker, when you have successful systems like ours or the Greek city-state of the fourth century or Rome in the fifth century A.D. or the Byzantines in the fifthteenth century or the ancient regime in Rome. Why do they fall apart? They fall apart because an elite no longer warrants the respect they think that they deserve because they are out of touch with the people.” – Victor Davis Hanson on Tucker Carlson last night