The Trump Trade War Will Cost Us All

I keep saying this and Trump keeps proving it…

Donald Trump gets his talking points and his policy guidance from the CALLERS to right wing talk radio shows. Not the hosts, but the callers. These are people with nothing to do all day but call in to Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage and offer up their ignorant opinions.

One thing that makes this obvious is Trump’s tendency to make policy based on the past. One thing about hardcore right wingers is their penchant for existing in the past. Often, it’s a past that never existed, like yesterday, when Donny insisted that the parents of Korean War veterans said it would be nice if they could get the remains of their loved ones returned. Keep in mind, the armistice was signed 66 years ago, which means the youngest Korean War veterans would be in their mid-80s by now, and their parents well over 100 years old.

The same nonsense surrounds his nonsense regarding trade. When you listen to him talk about trade, you would think this is 1982. And Lee Iacocca was making K-Cars to battle the onslaught of Japanese car sales. Everything he says about trade is reminiscent of something Ronald Reagan would have said in the early 1980s. He thinks the steel and aluminum industries will come back if all he does is slap a tariff on imports and put other countries on the defensive. Seriously, he refers to the American steel industry as essential to national security.

What?

There was a time when it was believed that manufacturing everything in-country was the epitome of national security. By relying on other countries for the products and services we need, it was believed that all countries should be self-reliant. It kind of makes sense, but in an old-fashioned way. It was a remnant of the World War II experience, in which we learned that this country could, when pressed, do anything we wanted, if we just had the will. The 1950s and 1960s also featured a world in which the United States and Canada were practically the only industrialized countries who were still intact. In other words, the circumstances of the post-War era were unique and not likely to happen again, possibly ever.

It’s perhaps ironic, on some level, that Republicans, led by St. Ronald of Reagan, were the ones who actually dismantled our industrial base, in favor of “allowing” developing countries to make things for us, and make them cheaper, since it is Republican Donny Trump, under cover of the current GOP, who is lamenting what the GOP did almost 40 years ago.

My father and. My uncle were steelworkers. They belonged to the union and they gave their all to the industry. The steel industry was already on the rails by the time my father quit in the late 1970s, and by the early 1980s, the American steel industry was almost dead, when St. Reagan and the Republican Party decided the best way to become a “permanent majority” was to kill the labor unions, which were (and still are) the strongest financial supporters of the Democratic Party. At the time, almost 40 years ago, they had a chance to support the steel and aluminum industries, and they chose to do nothing.

So, here we are, with Donny promising all sorts of industries jobs that may never exist again. Coal may come back for a couple years, but its long-term prospects are dim. It’s a dirty 19th Century technology that has no future in the modern world. We should replace the jobs in coal country, of course – that is probably the biggest mistake the Democrats have made over the past decade or so, to make coal miners think we were trying to kill the coal industry and leave them high and dry – but the coal industry is all but dead.

As for steel, the only purpose for slapping a 20 percent tariff on imports would be to give the domestic steel industry a boost. The problem is, we no longer have the capacity to supply ourselves with all the steel we need. We don’t have the facilities to build it and we don’t have the skilled workers, since Donny’s own party essentially killed off the industry already. This idea that factories can sit for almost 40 years and just be reopened (if they haven’t been torn down or converted already) is absurd. It’s the kind of thing the thoughtless Trumpers would think was possible. It’s the kind of absurdity that is a hallmark of the modern GOP; they promise things they can’t possibly deliver and their supporters get screwed without even realizing they’re being screwed.

The Trump approach to “trade” is built on pure ignorance. He doesn’t understand what a trade deficit is, as evidenced by the fact that he treats them as if they’re a loss to our economy. Again, this is something the callers to right wing talk radio would think because everything they believe is either black or white. That’s why Donny can tell them about the “400% tariff on milk” and they get al gooey and think Canada is ripping us off. This, despite the fact that U.S. farmers have been getting around the tariff for years and the overall trade SURPLUS with Canada is more than $8 billion.

The bottom line is, the jobs this country lost could have been recovered in the 1980s, not now. And the approach Trump is making right now, of slapping huge tariffs that are sure to trigger (and have triggered) a huge trade war with countries we depend on for goods and services, for better or worse. Trump seems to imagine that the countries pay the tariffs, when the truth is, the American people pay them. What. Donny’s Trade War will do is increase prices on everything.

In other words, folks, expect a round of higher inflation than we’ve seen for a while, and no good jobs created, since the GOP destroyed those jobs. A generation ago. This is a trade “strategy” with no upside for us. This guy has to go.


Also published on Medium.