President Donald Trump has pursued an aggressively isolationist trade policy since taking office, imposing tariffs on U.S. rivals and trading partners alike with the intent of boosting the sale of American made goods.
But according to Politico, a new report from the Department of Commerce reveals just out utterly Trump's plan has failed.
"The monthly U.S. trade deficit in goods hit a record high in August, despite President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign promises to reduce it dramatically by negotiating new trade deals and getting tough on unfair foreign trade practices, a Commerce Department report showed on Tuesday," reported Doug Palmer. "The overall trade deficit was $67.1 billion, reflecting a surplus in services trade with the rest of world — the highest since 2006. The deficit for U.S. goods trade by itself was $83.9 billion, the highest ever recorded."
Tariffs can increase demand for specific goods and services, but often have downstream effects that hurt other American businesses at least as much as the businesses targeted for help. Trump's tariffs on foreign steel, for instance, were a benefit to U.S. production of steel, but caused job losses in industries that use it. One nail manufacturer in Missouri faced steep job losses until the government exempted it from the tariffs.
Trump has repeatedly shown confusion about how trade and tariffs even work, suggesting that foreign governments are paying them, and that Mexico can use its trade surplus with the United States to pay for a border wall — neither of which make any sense.