Just as Donald Trump is facing impeachment and the fallout from a trade war that’s slipping out of his control, he’s decided to go ahead and do something even dumber. Making sure people didn’t forget to call him “Tariff Man,” he decided to announce new tariffs on steel and aluminum coming from Argentina and Brazil, having accused them both of currency manipulation during his Twitter Monday morning rant.
Despite his new claim that he’s simply protecting our farmers, these countries were exempt from the tariffs he set last year. The trouble is that while this is a classic example of how gaslighters often behave, creating problems simply so they can claim to fix them, Trump is actively doing even more harm to a huge sector of the economy.
Trump still doesn’t understand (or chooses to be ignorant of) the fact that tariffs work both ways – and his 25% tariff on steel means that American car manufacturers will have to pay more for it, as well as a 10% increase on aluminum. He’s not only wrong on his claim, but these are two countries that have benefited from the trade war with China – acting as new trade partners that he’s just about to alienate.
This couldn’t come at a worse time for Donald Trump on a number of levels. The number of car sales have dropped in the last few months, suggesting a problem with stagnant wages and a drop in consumer confidence – meaning dealerships are ordering fewer cars from manufacturers. Because this is happening so close to the 2020 election, the health of the automotive industry could actually become an issue during the campaign – and it wouldn’t be hard for Trump’s Democratic rivals to bring up his promise in 2016 that he would restore manufacturing jobs. In fact, the manufacturing sector has been in a technical recession since September – and this is liable to only make a bad situation worse, making the stability of the economy even less certain.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making