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Vox Sentences: The feds have resorted to open Twitter pleading to keep Trump ethical

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Donald Trump promises to leave "business operations" to his children, which is fine because he's not close with his children at all or anything; a deal to keep Carrier manufacturing jobs in Indiana; OPEC and other major oil producers (like Russia) agree to produce less oil.


Trust with one eye open

Trump with family Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • On Wednesday, Donald Trump announced (via Twitter, duh) that he'll roll out a plan in mid-December to separate himself from the "business operations" of Trump companies before assuming the presidency. [BuzzFeed News / Jessica Simeone and Tamerra Griffin]
  • The announcement is clearly a response to concerns from critics of both parties about Trump's massive conflicts of interest around the world. It is not, however, enough to assuage them. [Vox / Libby Nelson]
  • For one thing, it's probable that Trump will simply transfer "business operations" responsibility to his children — who are also helping him conduct diplomatic business. [Think Progress / Judd Legum]
  • For another, the damage is already being done — Trump's new DC hotel was awarded a tax break by the District six days after his election to the presidency. [BuzzFeed News / Aram Roston]
  • The only foolproof way for Trump to avoid conflicts of interest between the presidency and his business holdings is to actually get rid of the latter entirely — an option, as the federal Office of Government Ethics very publicly reminded him Wednesday (also via Twitter, duh), that he still has the chance to take. [Vox / Libby Nelson]
  • Don't expect him to take it. Trump has always been a crony capitalist. He started his career that way, in New York real estate; he's likely to end it that way, as US president. [Reason / Peter Suderman]
  • This is an affront to US political norms, for sure. But as Matt Yglesias argues persuasively, comparisons to other countries show that business corruption doesn't make a politician's fans think less of him — instead, they have to be shown that his policies don't really help them. [Vox / Matt Yglesias]

Carrierony capitalism

Carrier logo Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP/Getty Images
  • The air conditioning manufacturer Carrier Corp. has reached a deal with the incoming Trump/Pence administration to keep "close to 1,000" of the 1,400 manufacturing jobs it was planning to move to Mexico in Indiana, in exchange for tax breaks from the state government. [IndyStar / James Briggs, Chelsea Schneider, and Tony Cook]
  • (The fact that the deal is being accomplished via the Indiana state government should make it clear that it wouldn't have happened had the governor of Indiana not been vice president-elect — which makes this approach, for better or worse, hard to scale.) [Indianapolis Business Journal / Hayleigh Colombo]
  • The precise details of the plan still aren't known — not even to the head of the union representing Carrier employees, who, as of Wednesday afternoon, was worried the company would ask workers to take a pay cut in return for keeping their jobs. [Tom LoBianco via Twitter]
  • To be clear: This sort of pressure on individual companies is often bad industrial policy. The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning industry Carrier is part of isn't exactly an up-and-coming market, and it's not clear how much benefit keeping jobs in the US for now has. [Bloomberg / Justin Fox]
  • But it's also not that uncommon — President Obama's relationship with GE's Jeffrey Immelt, for example, was pretty closely entwined with Obama's own industrial policy. [Forbes / Dan Ikenson]
  • The real question is whether President Trump will use his power not just to reward some companies but to punish others. [Washington Post / Jim Tankersley]
  • Indeed, it looks like that might have been the fear that really motivated Carrier to sign the deal — its parent company, United Technologies, was reportedly worried about the fate of its federal contracts if it displeased the incoming administration. [Politico / Matthew Nussbaum]
  • If President-elect Trump wanted to set a rule that all federal contractors had to agree not to move jobs abroad, there could be a way to do that — Bernie Sanders has proposed a bill to this end. [Sen. Bernie Sanders]
  • But one-by-one negotiations of the kind Trump appears to favor can be exploitative of both the businesses and the government — a point that candidate Trump made rather convincingly on the campaign train. [Mother Jones / Pema Levy]

OPEC tries something different

oil rig Shutterstock
  • The OPEC nations — plus some other oil producers, including Russia — agreed to cut oil production for the first time since 2008 (and for Russia, since 2001), in an attempt to save an oil market that's kind of been in free fall for the past two years. [Reuters / Rania El Gamal, Alex Lawler, and Ahmad Ghaddar]
  • OPEC (which is to say mainly Saudi Arabia, the unofficial leader of the group) was unwilling to cut production two years ago, because it wanted to drive the nascent, fracking-driven US oil sector out of the market. That ... went poorly. So now it's trying a different approach. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
  • US oil producers have cut back, simply because it hasn't been very profitable to drill for oil — but they could easily step production back up if prices continue to rise, which would flummox OPEC's plan. [Reuters]
  • OPEC's biggest problem, though, could be countries that did promise to cut production. The biggest reason this deal is notable to oil industry observers (and therefore a big reason its announcement caused oil stocks to rebound) is the inclusion of Russia — which hadn't been expected to agree to a cut in production. [Bloomberg / Nayla Razzouk, Angelina Rascouet, and Golnar Motevalli]
  • But it will be difficult to hold Russia to its promise. It's pretended to commit to match OPEC cuts before, then reneged — in 2008, it waited for OPEC countries to make cuts, then increased its own production. [Petroleum Economist / Derek Brower]

Miscellaneous


Verbatim

  • "On being invited to visit Pakistan by the Prime Minister, Mr. Trump said that he would love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people. Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people, said Mr. Donald Trump" [Official press release, Pakistan Press Information Department]
  • "I eat two eggs a day and that’s it. And cookies. But I do not eat much because I have no teeth." [Emma Morano, the world's oldest person, via the Guardian]
  • "Did I have an edge, getting started in business? No question. But get over it." [Ivanka Trump via New Yorker / Jia Tolentino]
  • "Some of the first people to organise against 'political correctness' were a group of feminists who called themselves the Lesbian Sex Mafia." [The Guardian / Moira Weigel]
  • "You start reading folks saying, 'Oh, you know, working-class families have been neglected,' or 'Working-class white families have not been paid attention to by Democrats.' Actually, they have. What is true, though, is that whatever policy prescriptions that we've been proposing don't reach, are not heard, by the folks in these communities." [Barack Obama to Rolling Stone / Jann Wenner]

Watch this: The hippest internet cafe of 1995

The cyber struggle is real. Vox's Phil Edwards spoke to one of the founders of @ Cafe, an internet cafe that launched just as the internet was coming into the public eye. [YouTube / Phil Edwards]

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