New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on Monday brutally mocked President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders on trade, which he said were insignificant “nothingburgers” that would do nothing to alter American trade policy.
Specifically, Krugman explained that Trump’s two executive orders issued last week were stunningly weak tea for a president who had pledged to completely renegotiate NAFTA during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“One called for a report on the causes of the trade deficit; wait, they’re just starting to study the issue?” Krugman noted. “The other addressed some minor issues of tariff collection, and its content apparently duplicated an act President Obama already signed last year.”
On a broader level, Krugman wrote that these weak orders were symbolic of Trump’s presidency as a whole — namely, that he makes bold promises, but is unable to follow through on any of them thanks to his crippling lack of understanding of policy.
“The fiasco perfectly encapsulated what’s looking more and more like a failed agenda,” he explained. “Business seems to have decided that Mr. Trump is a paper tiger on trade: The flow of corporate relocations to Mexico, which slowed briefly while C.E.O.s tried to curry favor with the new president, has resumed. Trade policy by tweet, it appears, has run its course. Investors seem to have reached the same conclusion: The Mexican peso plunged 16 percent after the election, but since Inauguration Day it has recovered almost all the lost ground.”
In the end, Krugman thinks Trump’s approach to policy can be explained by an inverse of an old Teddy Roosevelt proverb: “Talk loudly and carry a small stick.”