A Trade War Backfire?

Recently, I’ve heard and seen a lot of negative commentary about how Trump’s stance on tariffs is going to backfire, both economically and politically, but most of that commentary isn’t looking at why Trump is doing what he’s doing.

In the most recent issue of New Scientist [odd, I know], a French economist makes a point that most commentators are overlooking — that most of the economic damage will impact geographic areas in the U.S. that are Democratic strongholds, while strengthening Trump’s political position among his supporters.

In addition, there’s the simple point that Trump knows that most of his supporters don’t know or don’t care about the complexities of economics and trade. One automobile analyst made the point that for every U.S. steel job saved, 16 “downstream” auto jobs could be lost. While those figures are likely worst-case, there isn’t much doubt that increased tariffs will cost the U.S. more jobs than they save, as well as push up the price of U.S. goods. The thought of Mexican tariffs on U.S. agricultural products has already panicked the farm sectors, and Chinese tariffs on soybeans have already impacted U.S. soybean producers negatively. According to U.S. aluminum fabricators, 97% of aluminum jobs in the U.S. depend on imported aluminum, and tariffs will cost U.S. fabricating jobs without offsetting gains in aluminum smelting. There’s already a long list of economic negatives to Trump’s tariffs, with more to come.

But these facts don’t matter to Trump’s base. For the most part, they firmly believe that foreigners are the cause of many of our problems, from immigration to off-shoring of U.S. jobs. The facts show otherwise, and in fact, more Mexican born immigrants are now returning to Mexico than there are new Mexican immigrants [legal and illegal] coming into the United States, but no one is paying much attention. Nor do they care that past trade policies have resulted in cheaper consumer goods for Americans.

These Trump supporters “know what they know,” and what they care about is that Trump is doing what he promised to do. And when it doesn’t work out, Trump will blame the Democrats, especially if they retake the House of Representatives, and Trump’s supporters will assuredly agree with him.

And, unfortunately, most Democrats and opponents of Trump don’t seem to have even considered the grass-roots political impact.

2 thoughts on “A Trade War Backfire?”

  1. Tom says:

    BBC article compares Trump and Fillmore. This quote caught my eye. It seems apt to your latest comment.

    …. a prayer once uttered by Fillmore still seems to resonate: “May God save the country, for it is evident that the people will not.”

  2. Hannibal says:

    “Recently, I’ve heard and seen a lot of negative commentary about how Trump’s stance on tariffs is going to backfire, both economically and politically, but most of that commentary isn’t looking at why Trump is doing what he’s doing.

    In the most recent issue of New Scientist [odd, I know], a French economist makes a point that most commentators are overlooking — that most of the economic damage will impact geographic areas in the U.S. that are Democratic strongholds, while strengthening Trump’s political position among his supporters.”

    THIS HAS TO GO OUT. ALL MUST BE WARNED. tRUMP MUST BE STOPPED.

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