You can’t get much more Republican than the United States Chamber of Commerce, because business leaders don’t like being regulated, and the Republican Party has long been willing to let them get away with anything they want. But when the sitting Republican President is an economy-wrecker like Donald Trump, even the Chamber of Commerce has to think twice about supporting him. That all came to a head today on stock market television channel CNBC.
Every modern economist of every stripe knows that tariffs are a lose-lose proposition, a failed experiment from bygone centuries. But because Donald Trump doesn’t understand this or doesn’t care, he’s been slapping tariffs on goods from China, threatening to slap tariffs on goods from Mexico, and other dangerously incompetent moves. Chamber of Commerce executive Myron Brilliant appeared on CNBC today to explain to viewers why Trump’s tariffs are harmful.
It turns out Trump was watching, because he apparently doesn’t have anything better to do – so he called in to CNBC and had a meltdown about it all. Trump promptly announced that he may resign his membership in the Chamber of Commerce. He also began viciously attacking the people who run the U.S. Federal Reserve, because they dared to make economically sound decisions on interest rate – instead of making the kind of decisions that Trump wanted, which would merely have caused a temporary spike in the economy before causing it to crash.
At one point Donald Trump demanded that the Chamber of Commerce should begin “representing the United States” and not merely its own members. This is surreal, considering that the Chamber is a private organization consisting of private businesspeople, and is not in any way a government entity. Does Trump even know the difference? In any case, Trump committed the one sin that a Republican politician usually can’t get away with: threatening to come between wealthy conservatives and their money.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report