While acknowledging it was the right thing to do, the editorial board of the New York Times dropped the hammer on Donald Trump for learning the hard way that trade wars are not “easy to win” — a claim the president made before enacting a wave of disastrous tariffs.
Under the sarcastic headline, “You Don’t Understand Tariffs, Man,” the Times highlighted the fact that Trump’s impulsive attempts at economic policies have hurt farmers and manufacturers alike, as reflected in Tuesday’s stock market plunge.
With Trump tweeting, “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. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN,” on Tuesday, the Times said not so fast.
“Mr. Trump has famously boasted that trade wars are ‘easy to win,’ but he is currently 0-for-2 on that count,” they wrote. “Yes, the so-called U.S.M.C.A. treaty has been signed by the United States, Mexico and Canada, but after all the bombast about tearing up Nafta and the insults delivered to America’s allies, Naft2, as it should be called, is a conventional, incremental result that isn’t markedly different from the original.”
Then came the lesson.
“Trade wars tend to be easier to prolong than they are to win or even end. And the current one is hurting both the United States and China, as well as rattling around like a loose part in the global economic machine,” they admonished. “The uncertainty created by Mr. Trump’s threats of a trade war escalation has been even more damaging. Businesses and investors can’t abide uncertainty, and that contributed to Wall Street’s November swoon, which wiped out all of the year’s gains at one point. They wanted the saber rattling to stop; when the truce was announced, the market rallied.”
Noting that Trump has agreed to a 90-day suspension of tariffs proposed by both China and himself, the Times said the president is still creating worldwide economic havoc.
“Mr. Trump has also taken trade hostage, and we’re all prisoners alongside it,” the editorial said in conclusion. “He reasons that because Americans buy more stuff from our trading partners than those countries buy from us, he has the stronger hand. But as he found out with Mexico, Canada and now China, trade is more than the sum of goods and services exchanged between nations.”
“Instead, the clock is now ticking on the 90-day truce. That still leaves the tariffs in place, even as costs to the economy are rising and the benefits become less clear,” the piece warned.
You can read the whole thing here.