The editorial board of the conservative Wall Street Journal had very little good to say about President Donald Trump’s last few weeks of foreign policy miscues, saying their attempts to find something praiseworthy is like looking under a pile of manure hoping to find a pony.
Under the headline, “Trump’s Trade Confusion,” the editorial cut right to the chase.
“President Trump wants everyone to know he is a master trade negotiator, but this week his volleys look more like a mess than mastery,” they wrote. “His China policy is all over the place, Nafta is in jeopardy, and his new threat to impose a 25% tariff on auto imports undercuts his foreign policy and economic goals. But perhaps there’s some grand strategy that will eventually unveil itself and wow the crowds.”
According to the editors, whose main audience is investors and businessmen, Trump is a threat to the economy due to his threats of tariffs and his administration’s lack of understanding about how worldwide economies have evolved.
“Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross declared on Wednesday that ‘there is evidence suggesting that, for decades, imports from abroad have eroded our domestic auto industry.’ There is? ” the Journal scoffed. “The real evidence is that America’s Big Three car markers became less competitive as an oligopoly, and foreign imports forced them to shape up and make better cars.”
“U.S. automakers aren’t asking for and don’t need protection. GM and Ford produce some small cars in Mexico to comply with fuel-efficiency mandates, but imports make up only about 1% of their sales. American manufacturers have been scaling back domestic production of some small passenger models, but that’s because of declining demand, not imports,” the WSJ scolded.
Turning to tariffs, the editorial added, “We suspect the auto tariffs are one more attempt to bludgeon allies into trade surrender. Mr. Trump is frustrated that Mexico and Canada haven’t rolled over for U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s absurd demand that 40% of light vehicle content and 45% of pickup trucks be produced in ‘high-wage zones’ with an average minimum wage of at least $16 per hour. So Mr. Trump may be trying to force Mexico to heel, though it could backfire and scuttle hope of any deal.”
“Earlier this year, Mr. Trump threatened tariffs on BMW and Mercedes if the European Union doesn’t reduce its 10% levy on U.S. auto imports. But the EU has responded to his steel and aluminum tariffs by teeing up duties of up to 25% on $3.5 billion in U.S. goods if Europe doesn’t get a permanent exemption,” editorial explained.
The Journal then went in for the kill over Trump’s day-to-day inconsistencies.
“On Monday he [Trump] boasted that a weekend deal to withdraw tariffs was ‘one of the best things to happen to our farmers in many years!’ The next day he complained that he was ‘not satisfied,’ then tweeted Wednesday that ‘Our Trade Deal with China is moving along nicely, but in the end we will probably have to use a different structure in that this will be too hard to get done and to verify results after completion.’ Glad he cleared that up,” the piece sarcastically suggested
“As Ronald Reagan liked to joke about the boy who saw a stable full of manure, there must be a pony in there somewhere,” they wrote. “Or maybe all this is merely a pile of impulsive, ill-considered threats that are increasing business uncertainty, slowing the economy, and irritating friends the U.S. needs on Iran and Korea.”
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