Monday, March 18, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He yelled at an auto union, although it's not clear why.

Trump spent much of the weekend on an epic Twitter bender, and some of its recurring themes spilled out into Monday's "executive time." One thread he continued today was an increasingly confusing rant aimed at the United Auto Workers and General Motors over the proposed closing of a plant at Lordstown, Ohio.

GM announced that it was closing the plant last November as part of a major restructuring that it says will save $6 billion but reduce its workforce by 15%. The closing of the Lordstown plant will end 1,500 jobs. 

On Sunday, Trump attacked the UAW personally and his members for failing to "produce" and told them to "stop complaining and get the job done." 

It's hard to know what Trump thought he was saying here. The union—whose entire purpose is to preserve as many of its members' jobs as possible—does not own the plant and cannot force GM to keep it open or "produce" anything that GM doesn't want to build. 

The UAW, for its part, has asked Trump himself to intervene twice—and heard nothing until the attack on Sunday.

Today, Trump continued to rage about the plant closure, but broadened his field of fire to include GM as well, and demanded that it close plants in "China or Mexico." Doing that would have been much easier before Trump imposed tariffs on steel and automobiles that made it impossible to profitably export cars from the U.S. (GM begged Trump last year not to risk its profits and American jobs by imposing those tariffs.)

Why is this a bad thing?

  • In a capitalist democracy, businesses aren't forced to do unprofitable things to please the ruling party.
  • Presidents who don't know what a union does aren't competent to do their jobs.
  • It's wrong to blame other people for the consequences of your own actions (or inactions).