The USA Today editorial board wrote a scathing rebuke of Donald Trump's insistence on interfering in American businesses based on his own whims and anxieties.
The board noted that former President Calvin Coolidge once famously remarked that "The chief business of the American people is business."
If Trump were to give a similar speech, the editors wrote, it would go something like this: "The chief business of American business is to pay homage to me, to do as I say, to serve as my political backdrop, and to recognize that I am the expert on all matters."
When he's not criticizing individuals like the late John McCain or the husband of his adviser Kellyanne Conway, Trump, the editors wrote, he insists on inserting "himself into some decision made by some business somewhere."
"He rebukes companies like General Motors and Harley-Davidson when they close plants or impose layoffs, and takes credit when companies like Carrier decide to forgo layoffs (only to shift course later when the attention dies down)," the op-ed read. "He advocates higher postal rates for Amazon because he dislikes its CEO, Jeff Bezos. He orders his administration, according to a report in The New Yorker, to try to block the merger of AT&T and Time Warner because the latter owns CNN, with which Trump has been feuding."
Though he claims to have slashed regulations, Trump has instead imposed "new layers of government intervention, ones that comes directly from his office and conform to his whims of the moment."
"Regulation by a faceless bureaucracy is bad enough," the board noted. "Regulation by a capricious, politically motivated officeholder is worse. One day you are running your company to the best of your ability, the next you are being slam-tweeted by the president or, worse yet, targeted by federal agencies because you said or did something that displeased the president."
Trump, they wrote, is America's "meddler-in-chief."
"Democratic administrations have been excoriated for far less intervention in markets than this," they concluded. "Previous GOP presidents, extending from Abraham Lincoln to Coolidge to George H.W. Bush, would have been appalled."