Prayer in School and Trade Deals

Grind for January 22nd
“A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday but never remembers her age.”
– Robert Frost

Don’t forget

The Headline

Trump reminds schools they could lose federal funds if they violate students’ religious freedoms

The Grind

President Trump recently met with a group of students from a variety of faiths who claim they were treated unfairly for practicing religion at school.

During the event, Trump announced a letter sent to education secretaries in all 50 states reminding them that students and faculty cannot be discriminated against for exercising their religious rights at school.

The Administration is also planning to update old guidelines about prayer in schools and introduce a streamlined complaint process students can use in cases where they are discriminated against based on religion.

The Details

Speaking with NPR, White House Director of the Domestic Policy Council Joe Grogan commented on the erosion of rules that protect religious expression in schools.

“We’re trying across the board to invite religious institutions and people of faith back into the public square and say, ‘Look, your views are just as valid as anybody else’s,'” said Grogan, noting that religious views are protected by the First Amendment.

While a 1962 Supreme Court decision prohibits school-sponsored prayer in public schools, it is legal for students and staff to pray at school in private as long as they don’t try to force others to join in.

“Whenever the president…draws his megaphone upon a subject, people will pay attention,” says Grogan. “It’s important for all Americans, parents, teachers, administrators, and citizens to understand that the First Amendment protects religious beliefs and protects people in expressing their spiritual life in the public square.”


The Headline

Trump signs “phase one” trade deal with China

The Grind

After nearly two years of tensions and tariffs, the United States and China have finally signed off on the first phase of a deal that seeks to decrease the $400 billion+ trade imbalance between the two countries.

The deal, signed last Wednesday, dramatically increases China’s purchase of US goods in four categories: agriculture, energy, manufacturing, and services.

Overall, China is expected to import an additional $77 billion in US products this year and an extra $123 billion next year – including a 90% increase in agriculture purchases.

“The targets aren’t impossible since the Chinese control purchasing in most of the economy,” notes Derek Scissors of the American Enterprise Institute. However, the US economy will see little benefit if the additional exports to China are diverted from other countries.

The Details

The trade deal is unusual in that it sets specific levels of trade between governments rather than a focus on increased market access and free trade.

The deal also fails to address several key issues including Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” initiative and its subsidies to state-owned enterprises. The deal does not eliminate tariffs, provide a timeline for the removal of tariffs, or affect US pressure on Chinese tech company Huawei.

The agreement hints at increased market access for financial services firms but does not guarantee equal market access. It includes a dispute resolution mechanism but offers no clear enforcement method in cases where China breaks the rules.

In other words, Trump and Xi have a lot to talk about during phase two.

You can help Trump finish the trade deal with China by keeping him in office this November! Donate today to the NRCC, NRSC, or Trump 2020 campaign.

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