In government and politics, acronyms are common. NASA, for example, is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement. NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
In Congress, lawmakers sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to come up with acronyms, in the hopes that it will make their bills easier to pass. One of my personal favorites – just because of the amount of effort that went into it – was the Generating Renewal, Opportunity, and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities throughout America Act (the GROW AMERICA Act).
But once in a while, folks forget to even notice that the first letters in a series of words can form a new word. Take this report from late yesterday, for example.
Axios has obtained a leaked draft of a Trump administration bill – ordered by the president himself – that would declare America’s abandonment of fundamental World Trade Organization rules.
The draft legislation is stunning. The bill essentially provides Trump a license to raise U.S. tariffs at will, without congressional consent and international rules be damned.
According to Axios, the proposal, which would give Trump unilateral power to ignore the basic tenets of the WTO, is titled the “United States Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act.”
Or the US FART Act.
Honestly, is there no one at the White House who thinks these things through?
On Friday afternoon aboard Air Force One, the president denied that he plans to withdraw from the WTO, but he told reporters that the United States has been “treated very badly” by the World Trade Organization. (To the extent that reality still has any meaning, the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell noted, “Since WTO began regulating international trade, the US has won about 90% of cases we’ve brought as a complainant.”)
Presidential bluster notwithstanding, it would take an act of Congress to pass the White House’s proposal, and the chances of that happening are roughly zero. Indeed, one is tempted to note the US FART Act is mostly hot air, though I’m obviously above such things.
But the fact that Trump World has gone so far as to draft legislation to give the president unilateral power to circumvent international trade rules represents yet another data point on the “Trump’s authoritarian instincts are a little out of control” list.