President Trump came back from a meeting in Argentina with the Chinese president claiming to have made a deal that would end the trade war with China. Then Trump began sending out tweets that made it clear there may be no deal at all.
President Donald Trump, who inherited a family real estate business from his father and managed to go bankrupt running a casino, is not really a great businessman. He just played one on TV. Nevertheless, he imagines himself a fabulous dealmaker.
He came back from a meeting in Argentina with Chinese President Xi Jinping claiming to have made a deal that would end the trade war with China. The stock market loved the news. However, in the days following his return, the White House had a terrible time describing the details of the alleged deal. Then Trump began sending out tweets that made it clear there may be no deal at all. Stocks plummeted.
“President Xi and I want this deal to happen, and it probably will,” Trump declared in a tweet on Tuesday. “… I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so.”
Boasting about being a “Tariff Man” is a bit like boasting about playing a knight at a Medieval fair. It may be fun to put on a costume, but it is an exercise in anachronism. Tariffs are blunt instruments whose deep flaws became apparent way back in the 19th century. The biggest fallacy in the current situation is that China will pay the cost of tariffs. In fact, it is American consumers who will pay the higher price of the many Chinese products they desire and cannot get anywhere else.
Trump is no longer dealing with some lowly subcontractor in Queens, he is bumbling into the complexities of a deeply integrated world economy. And Americans are paying the price for his ignorance.
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