Sorry, Donald Trump, that’s not how any of this works

Donald Trump, who has had six bankruptcies and is deeper in debt than perhaps any individual in history, and whose tax scam has exploded the national debt, decided this morning that he would offer a lecture about the virtue of not being in debt. Suffice it to say that it didn’t exactly go well for him.

Trump posted this surreal tweet about money economics, unwittingly demonstrating that he has no understanding of money or economics: “When our Country had no debt and built everything from Highways to the Military with CASH, we had a big system of Tariffs. Now we allow other countries to steal our wealth, treasure, and jobs – But no more! The USA is doing great, with unlimited upside into the future!” Oh boy, where do we even start?

First, this tweet reveals that Donald Trump doesn’t even know what the national debt is. Due to the nature of it, the U.S. always has always carried some debt, even if it’s simply money owed to its own citizens who have bought government bonds. According to The Street, the United States has carried some degree of national debt every year since 1790, with the debt having been the smallest in the year 1835. Trump’s notion that the U.S. built its highways with “cash” because it had “no debt” is simply gibberish, and it’s clear that Trump has forgotten everything he ever learned at Wharton, or didn’t really learn it in the first place.

Second, Donald Trump’s tweet reminds us once again that he has no idea what a tariff is, and that he knows nothing about the history of tariffs. The United States learned the hard way, early on in its existence, that tariffs were the kind of lose-lose proposition that could only work in specific instances where the other nation had more to lose than we did. Yet Trump seems insistent on making these same mistakes all over again, trying tariffs in situations where everyone knows they can’t work, even as he whines about the national debt while exploding the national debt. No wonder this guy has spent his life going broke.

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