Tuesday, July 24, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He begged his supporters to ignore the consequences of his trade war.

Trump began the day with tweets insisting that "tariffs are the greatest!" and that the countries that he had threatened with them were "all coming to Washington to negotiate." 

But in reality, they're not "negotiating" at all. Except for Taiwan, every single one of the United States' fifteen largest trading partners have retaliated with tariff threats of their own, and many have lodged complaints with the WTO that will likely lead to further penalties against American exporters. Some of these measures have already gone into effect, to disastrous effect for the targeted American industries.

This is why Trump also unveiled today a taxpayer bailout of some of the farmers whose finances have collapsed because of the effect of the retaliation on the price of soybeans, pork, and other commodities

This means that U.S. taxpayers will now foot the bill for $12 billion worth of food previously paid for by foreign consumers. Trump's authority to move this money around comes from a Depression-era program called the Commodity Credit Corporation, best known to older Americans as the agency that supplied "government cheese" to food banks. It does not require congressional approval, which is just as well, since Trump's own party doesn't support his trade war or today's bailout.

Trump desperately needs to hold on to his support in farm states, and some of that desperation was on display when he was talking about the bailout in Missouri this afternoon:

Why is this a bad thing?

  • Declaring victory is not the same thing as solving a problem.
  • The economy of the United States is too important to be left to a president who can't or won't learn how trade works.