Wall Street Journal pummels Trump for 'punishing America first' with botched tariff war with China
Donald Trump stands for the national anthem (screen grab)

The conservative Wall Street Journal lashed out at President Donald Trump on Saturday morning with a blistering editorial, hammering the President for plunging the U.S. into a trade war with China which is hurting American farmers and businessmen.

Under a very pointed headline reading, "Punishing America First," the editorial board at the Rupert Murdoch-owned WSJ, was unsparing in it's criticism of Trump's tariff moves that have plunged the markets into chaos, while the president has offered the cold comfort that Americans will have to suffer a bit as he figures it out.

"Donald Trump and his advisers spent much of Friday telling everyone that the U.S. is not in a trade war with China, but investors weren’t buying it," The editors wrote. "Equity markets took a major header, falling by more than 2% across the board. Maybe investors are starting to look at the damage Mr. Trump may do to the Farm Belt states and to the GOP’s chances of holding Congress."

"We’ve been warning since Mr. Trump first emerged as a candidate that his nationalist economics should be taken seriously," the piece continued. "This is one policy he seems truly to believe in, he has empowered protectionist advisers, and previous Congresses have given a President wide latitude to act unilaterally. Trade was always the biggest economic risk of the Trump Presidency, and now we’re living through his punch-first policy as he tries to stare down Xi Jinping."

"Mr. Trump doesn’t even seem to mind if the tariffs do some economic damage while he’s supposedly fixing the U.S. trade deficit. 'I’m not saying there won’t be a little pain, but the market has gone up 40%, 42%, so we might lose a little bit of it. But we’re going to have a much stronger country when we’re finished,' the President told a New York radio show on Friday," the opinion piece added before following with a sarcastic, "Nice to know it will all turn out for the best."

Taking up the cause of American farmers who are looking at taking a huge economic hit, the Journal hammered Trump over what his administration proposes to do now that China has retaliated.

"Someone in the White House seems to know the risks because its press shop spent Friday sending out missives telling farmers not to worry. Mr. Trump’s $100 billion tariff threat on Thursday included that he had told the secretary of agriculture 'to use his broad authority to implement a plan to protect our farmers and agriculture interests," the editors wrote. "What’s [Agriculture] Secretary Sonny Perdue going to do—buy up all the soybeans China no longer buys? Order farmers to slaughter their pigs to produce less pork that will also be subject to Chinese tariffs?"

"China’s trade abuses need to be addressed, but Mr. Trump’s tariffs first strategy risks punishing America first. He—and we—had better hope Mr. Xi is willing to bargain," the piece concluded.

You can read the whole thing here, subscription required.