Tuesday, June 26, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He threatened to punish a U.S. company that displeased him with higher taxes.

Trump has steadfastly refused that there could be any negative consequences to unilaterally imposing steep tariffs on our major trading partners. The closest he has come to acknowledging the pain they are already beginning to cause Americans was a vague promise to somehow "make it up" to the soybean farmers who are among the first victims.

Today, however, Trump continued to rant about Harley-Davidson's decision to move some production overseas so that it could sell its motorcycles in foreign countries without retaliatory tariffs inflating the sticker price. He also made a specific threat: that if the company followed through, "they will be taxed like never before!"

It is unconstitutional to levy a tax on one specific company, especially as a form of political punishment. And since Harley-Davidson isn't planning to sell its overseas bikes back in the United States, Trump couldn't try to hurt the company with more tariffs. On the other hand, as Trump's economic advisor Larry Kudlow wrote the week before Trump named him to the post, tariffs are really just taxes paid by consumers through higher prices. As things stand, Trump is already raising taxes--just not on Harley-Davidson.

Why should I care about this?

  • A president's job is to tend the economy, not try to destroy individual companies.
  • A country where businesses have to make keeping the leader happy a higher priority than their own bottom line is neither a democracy or a free market.