Thursday, December 13, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He got even further out on the border wall shutdown limb.

Trump spent a third consecutive day on tilt over an embarrassing meeting with Democratic leaders about his oft-promised, never-built border wall with Mexico. Today's effort to save face took the form of another tweet, in which Trump swore that his re-negotiated version of NAFTA means that "MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!"

There are a few problems with this.

First, Trump's so-called USMCA is virtually identical to NAFTA.

Second, it hasn't yet gone into effect.

Third, it's a free trade agreement, meaning that it does not generate tariffs on Mexican goods (although those would be paid by American consumers anyway). 

Fourth, if Trump's idea is that it will be good for American business and thereby increase tax revenues, those would still be paid by American companies, not Mexican ones.

Trump is currently threatening to shut down the United States government if he does not get United States tax money appropriated for the wall that he says Mexico is paying for.

How is this a problem?

  • If Trump is serious about this, he's astonishingly ignorant of basic economics.
  • If he's just saying this for political purposes, he thinks his supporters are astonishingly ignorant of basic economics.