A clearly exasperated editorial board of the Wall Street Journal took Donald Trump to task in a harsh column, claiming he doesn’t seem to know what he is doing when it comes to economics and they are getting tired of his act.
Right from the start, the conservative editors took a shot at the president by beginning: “President Trump isn’t famous for consistency, but his reversal on a new round of tax cuts may be a record. On Tuesday he said he was considering a cut in the payroll tax and indexing capital gains for inflation, but on Wednesday he took it all back.”
Calling Trump’s proposal “bizarre,” the editors continued, “Mr. Trump is also confused about whether the economy is strong or weak, whether more economic stimulus is needed, and even whether his trade brawls with the rest of the world are weakening the economy. No wonder business investment is falling amid this climate of policy uncertainty.”
Beyond Trump’s suggestion that he wants to tinker with the tax codes — only to walk it back almost immediately — the Journal points out that, should the president be sincere in his desire to come to grips with the possibility of a recession, then he should abandon his trade war and accompanying tariffs.
“Mr. Trump and his trade Rasputin, Peter Navarro, claim there’s been no harm from his tariffs,” they wrote. “But his actions belie the claim. Last week he delayed a new round of tariffs on some imports from China lest they raise consumer prices before Christmas. He has ladled out $28 billion in subsidies to farmers to offset markets lost to retaliation by China, and other nations, after his various tariffs.”
“The evidence of harm is also clear from U.S. economic data,” the editorial noted. “Manufacturing has slumped as global demand declines amid trade and currency shifts. U.S. net exports have also declined, and falling private investment shaved a percentage-point from GDP in the second quarter.”
“Mr. Trump has the power to assist the economy on his own by ending this trade uncertainty,” they admonished the president before adding a warning.
“He’s right to address bad Chinese practices, but he underestimated the economic harm from his multiple trade shocks. Supply chains built over a generation can’t be rebuilt in a year, and U.S. exporters can’t find new customers on short notice,” they wrote. “Mr. Trump doesn’t need to win his staredown with Xi Jinping in a single negotiation. He can make progress now, see if China honors its promises, and respond accordingly if he wins a second term. He’ll get no such chance if there’s a trade-driven recession, and Elizabeth Warren sits in the White House.”
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