Friday, December 20, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He got a reality check on American steel jobs.

On Wednesday, at almost the exact moment he was being impeached for obstruction and abuse of power, Trump told a Michigan rally audience this:

Look what I’ve done for steel. I mean, the steel is back. We taxed all the dumb steel coming in from China and other places, and US steel mills are doing great — they’re expanding all over the country, and they were gonna be out of business within two years the way they were going.

Today, two days later, US Steel announced it was closing its Great Lakes Works, a Detroit-area mill. 1,545 steelworkers will lose their jobs.

Trump sent his trade representative, Peter Navarro, out to explain that when the steel industry falters, it's never Trump's fault. US Steel "did not adapt with the times. They are paying for it dearly," he told reporters today.

Navarro and Trump are right that the huge taxes he imposed on the American manufacturers who bought foreign steel were a temporary boost for the domestic steel industry itself. The problem is that by forcing American manufacturers to pay more for steel, Trump also raised costs for American consumers, who ended up paying those taxes. He also invited retaliation against other vulnerable American businesses, like the farms that saw record bankruptcies this past year thanks to Chinese retaliation. American taxpayers had to pay for that, too, in the form of $28 billion in bailouts for the farms that survived.

This is not the first time that Trump has openly lied about the supposed successes of US Steel on his watch. Last year, he claimed that the company would be adding six new steel mills to its existing four—or, as of today, three.

So what?

  • A plan that doesn't work is nothing to brag about.
  • Ignoring failure doesn't make it go away.