Free Trade

Elon Musk Says His Acquisition of Twitter Is 'On Hold'

Plus: The Pro-Choice Caucus thinks choice is a harmful word, trade restrictions worsened the baby formula shortage, and more...


Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter is "on hold" pending a review of the proportion of spam accounts on the site, the billionaire investor and CEO of Tesla said on Friday.

Musk added that he was "still committed to acquisition."

Twitter has estimated that spam accounts comprise about 5 percent of the site's total, and Musk has indicated that he will hold the company to that. His comments could suggest an intention to back out of the deal entirely, or he might be trying to drive down the value of Twitter in order to make the acquisition easier, according to The New York Times.

Musk had recently indicated that if he does acquire Twitter, he will rescind the permanent ban of former President Donald Trump.


The Pro-Choice Caucus in the House circulated new talking points to Democrats on Thursday, recommending different language about abortion.

It's hard to argue that the purportedly "helpful" language is superior to the purportedly "harmful" language. Many pregnancies are "unexpected," but don't result in abortion, to take just one example.

If Democrats had conducted some polling and concluded that choice and safe, legal, and rare were unpopular ways to describe these issues, that would be one thing. But no. This framing seems to be the work of progressive activists who decided that choice "ignores the lived realities of people, especially Black people and people of color."

One wonders if the Pro-Choice Caucus will immediately rebrand itself as the Pro-Decision Caucus.


The baby formula shortage is making life difficult for many mothers across America. More than 40 percent of formulas are unavailable, according to The New York Times:

"Realistically, I think we're looking at several more months," said Dr. Steven Abrams, a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "Even once that factory restarts, I don't think the situation will get better super rapidly because the shortages have been developing for so long."…

If you can't find your baby's typical formula, your first call should be to their pediatrician. Health care providers might be able to help you find samples, connect you with a local formula representative or point you toward a charity that can help, Dr. Abrams said. Your local Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, office might also be able to help you find options.

Local parenting groups can also be an important resource. As the shortage continues, regional Facebook groups helping parents find their preferred formula have been popping up.

The Cato Institute's Gabriella Beaumont-Smith writes that trade restrictions are a significant cause of the shortages:

One reason retailers are struggling to recover stock levels is the multifarious trade restrictions that limit infant formula imports. The United States subjects infant formula to tariffs up to 17.5 percent and tariff-rate quotas (TRQs); for TRQs some level imported are subject to a tariff with the excess subject to a tariff and additional duties. A few trading partners receive "special" duty rates where some infant formula imports are duty-​free or receive lower tariffs and TRQs. Mexico is one of the few U.S. trading partners that has some duty-​free access for infant formula, and uncoincidentally, is the top trading partner for U.S. formula imports. Though, in comparison to total imports from Mexico (worth almost $400 billion), formula imports are extremely low.

Absurdly, provisions were added to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to restrict imports of formula from Canada, supposedly because China was investing in a baby food plant in Ontario, and this new production might eventually enter the U.S. market (heaven forbid!). Thus, the provisions in the USMCA's agriculture annex establish confusing and costly TRQs on Canadian exports of infant formula, and the United States imported no baby formula from Canada in 2021.

Making matters even worse, infant formula is subject to onerous U.S. regulatory ("non-tariff") barriers. For example, the FDA requires specific ingredientslabeling requirements, and mandates retailers wait at least 90 days before marketing a new infant formula. Therefore, if U.S. retailers wanted to source more formula from established trading partners like Mexico or Canada, the needs of parents cannot be quickly met because of these wait times. Businesses also have little incentive to go through the onerous regulatory process to sell to American retailers, given the aforementioned tariffs and the relatively short duration of the current crisis.

Read more here.


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