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NO TARIFFS! NO TARIFFS! YOU ARE THE IMAGINARY, NONEXISTENT TARIFFS!

economics

We know that Donald Trump lies all the time, but even by the debased standards of Commander Gaslight, this one's a whopper. See if you can spot the point where this interview with the Wall Street Journal went all the way off the rails. (We're kidding. It was already crazytimes when Trump said he might have to fire Fed Chair Jerome Powell for looking happy about interest rate hikes.)

Mr. Trump said he views tariffs, which have been a centerpiece of his "America First" economic and trade agenda in his first two years in office, as a negotiating tactic and vastly understated the size of the tariff regime put in place by his administration.

"We don't even have tariffs. I'm using tariffs to negotiate," the president said, describing the tariffs on steel and aluminum he imposed this year as "small." The U.S. this year imposed tariffs on steel, aluminum, washers and solar panels, as well as tariffs on an additional $250 billion of Chinese imports. Some businesses have supported the tariffs, but many have said they hurt their profits and could lead to higher prices for customers.

Vastly understated? Ya think? In the second quarter alone, the Congressional Research Service says the government collected $1.1 billion from a 25 percent tariff on imported steel, and another $344 million from a 10 percent levy on aluminum. Just last month we enacted a 10 percent levy on $250 billion of imported goods -- and that's set to ramp up to 25 percent by the end of the year. By our ladybrain math, that works out to $50 billion per year, although we didn't buy our way into Wharton like some people.


Trump himself bragged that we're totally paying down the national debt with money we extorted from foreign trade importers on bogus "national security" grounds.

So weird how we're paying down the national debt with NONEXISTENT TARIFFS! And Ford is just imagining the $1 billion hit to its bottom line this year after Trump's tariffs, which don't exist, spiked the price of steel 28 percent this year. Ditto the increased cost of the cars -- estimated between $1,409 and $2,057 per vehicle -- which consumers hand to Ford, and Ford hands to the Chinese/German/Canadian steel exporters, and the exporters hand to Uncle Sam, who treats it as a happy windfall from a benevolent American God. Will Ford's new slogan be, "Buy A Ford, Pay Off the National Debt With Imaginary Steel Duties, Thank You For Your $1,409 to $2,057"? Hmmm, Sterling Cooper might need to tweak that a smidge.

"Where do we have tariffs? We don't have tariffs anywhere," Mr. Trump said when asked about the risks tariffs pose to the economy. "You know what happens? A business that's doing badly always likes to blame Trump and the tariffs, because it's a good excuse for some incompetent guy that's making $25 million a year."

Oh hai, Iowa and North Dakota! Sorry the price of soybeans has dropped 10 percent since the Chinese enacted retaliatory levies on corn and soy to offset Trump's tariffs, which do not exist anywhere, like Schroedinger's cat. Trump wants you to quit being "babies" and nut up for America. Sure those Chinese pig farmers have shifted their feed orders to Brazil and Russia, but they'll definitely be back just as soon as this nonexistent tariff kerfuffle blows over. Or not. Anyway, don't blame Trump if you're incompetent! Blame Kim Reynolds and Kevin Cramer!

He said the threat of tariffs had helped his administration renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement as well as begin talks for a trade deal with the European Union. "I could never have done it without tariffs," he said of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the revised Nafta deal that the three nations reached earlier this month, but which requires approval from Congress.

Does he ... does he mean that he's just using the threat of tariffs to gain leverage? Is he saying that the tariffs are so fleeting, like a fart in the summer wind, that they hardly count and we should all pretend not to smell them?

"I'm talking tariffs, I'll use tariffs," he said. "I mean it."

Okay, we're not getting anything out of the syphilitic mongoose eating Trump's brain. Please to enjoy this picture of Wilbur Ross, a regular guy even though he's the billionaire Commerce Secretary, explaining that you'll still be able to afford your lunch, plebe.

Because Wilbur Ross washes down his Campbell's soup with Budweiser every day, you bet. And there are no tariffs, so shut up you incompetent baby. And all Donald Trump's branded swag is made in China, but you should pay off the national debt by forking over an extra grand per car. GOT IT?

[WSJ]

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Five Dollar Feminist

Your FDF lives in Baltimore under an assumed identity as an upstanding member of the PTA. Shhh, don't tell anyone she makes swears on the internet!

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Uh oh, looks like George Conway, husband of Kellyanne, is going to be sleeping on the couch for another week, because they are having That Fight They Always Have, the one where he says her boss (the president) is certifiably mentally unstable, and she's like "nuh uh," and we guess she reminds him that if that so-called certifiably mentally unstable person wasn't president, then she wouldn't be making a government salary for going on Fox News and lying to the American people.

It started this weekend with Donald Trump's latest Twitter rampage, which is still going on, and which avid watchers of Trump's Twitter habits agree seems to suggest that he is real upset about something. Like, more than usual. The sort of upset he gets when Robert Mueller is about to arrest his son, maybe. You know, ALLEGEDLY.

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Still no solution for shapeshifting trespassers

Hey, while every media outlet is doing exactly the same stupid horse-race political coverage they said nobody should be doing, the actual candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination are busily putting forward policy proposals -- the things pundits and voters keep saying they want to know about, at least in between discussions of "likeability" and whether Chuck Todd thinks candidates are bipartisan enough. So hey, here is a cool housing policy idea from Elizabeth Warren, who's trying to out-nerd everyone else with a proposal to make housing more affordable and even redress some of the nation's terrible legacy of housing discrimination. What a weirdo!

Warren outlines her housing proposals here, and we like 'em. There are even linkies to studies supporting her proposals, yay for info geeks! She notes that, for grownup adults, where you live (more precisely, where you can afford to live) has enormous consequences.

Housing is not just the biggest expense for most American families — or the biggest purchase most Americans will make in their lifetimes. It also affects the jobs you can get, the schools your children can go to, and the kinds of communities you can live in. That's why it's so important that government gets housing policy right.

Problem is, the federal government has spent decades getting housing policy very very wrong, from building racial discrimination into housing policy for much of the 20th century, to letting the big banks screw over homeowners and taxpayers as well. And of course, not doing much of anything to address the crunch in affordable housing for low and middle-income people. How's this for some real class warfare, via the supposedly invisible hand of the market:

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