Trump Just Taxed The Sh*t Out Of Your Tomatoes, Strawberries, And Cars
Trade wars are good, and easy to win! So easy that Donald Trump is launching another one with Mexico to deal with immigration. Last night, President Crazytweets announced that he's invoking the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to deal with our "illegal immigration crisis." Yeah, he's going to pull the fire alarm again to upend the entire US economy using a statute meant to grant the president extraordinary powers in a worldwide catastrophe. Having failed to make Mexico pay for WALL, Trump is now slapping punitive tariffs on all $346 billion of Mexican imports until Mexico does God only knows what to stop desperate Central American migrants from lawfully presenting themselves at the US border and begging for asylum. Good thing Franklin Graham has called a national day of prayer on Sunday to pray for this, our most godly president.
The PLAN, if indeed it can be called that, is to impose a five percent tariff on all Mexican imports beginning on June 10, escalating on the first of each subsequent month that Mexico fails to "STOP" Central American migration, capping out at 25 percent in October. Taken with our Chinese trade adventurism, by autumn, we could wind up with 25 percent tariffs on $1.25 trillion of goods from our first and third largest trading partners. And NO, China and Mexico will not be paying those tariffs, because STFU.
What could Mexico do to satisfy Trump's demands? Well, that depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is: "If the illegal migration crisis is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico, to be determined in our sole discretion and judgment, the Tariffs will be removed." So, maybe if Trump gets three cheeseburgers and Melania lets him rub his yellow toenails against her legs one night in July, Commander Caprice will decide that Mexico has "alleviated" the "crisis" and we can all go back to status quo ante. But until then, all hell's going to break loose.
Leaving aside that this violates NAFTA, which is still in effect, and the WTO, which we have effectively handicapped by refusing to allow new arbitrators to be nominated, it's really fucking stupid. American auto manufacturing supply chains are totally reliant parts assembled in Mexico, which means that the price of cars, which was already up because of Trump's "emergency" steel tariffs, will be even higher. Prices of agricultural products like strawberries, tomatoes, and avocados will increase immediately, as will the cost to produce them here, since we buy a lot of tractors and heavy farm equipment from factories in Mexico.
OH, WAIT! We are now getting word that these stupidass tariffs will magically re-open American car plants and solve our drug problem. They'll even cure psoriasis and help you gain the confidence to meet the woman of your dreams!
The White House statement makes no mention of those policy goals, nor does it explain how temporary tariffs to deal with an "emergency" will cause multinational corporations to invest in factories that will lose money once the "crisis" is over, but that's nerd shit. So, whatever haters.
Anyone suggesting that this is a deliberate effort to distract from Robert Mueller's press conference is cordially invited to watch 27 hours of Tucker Carlson's White Power Commercial Free Hour in a row. Donald Trump can barely remember his own wife's name -- there's no three-dimensional chess happening here. If this is an intentional distraction, it's from the likely failure of NAFT2, ahem, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which faced an uncertain future in the House of Representatives. As with last week when Donald Trump flipped his shit at Democrats because his own party tanked the infrastructure plan, Trump might have been preemptively blowing up a deal he had no chance of passing. Or maybe his hemorrhoids and brain were both so inflamed after watching Fox and OANN the entire flight back from Japan that he went even crazier than usual. Who even knows!
Big props to Mick Mulvaney, who managed to keep a straight face while telling NBC that he can't imagine that these tariffs would affect the viability of the USMCA, saying, "The two are absolutely not linked ... These are not tariffs as part of a trade dispute. These are tariffs as part of an immigration problem." Why ever would the Mexicans not agree to a tariff normalization scheme when we are unilaterally implementing punishing levies on our side of the border? Just because the US uses trade as a cudgel to beat Mexico over the head on immigration policy doesn't mean that they should think it has anything to do with trade!
The Republican senators from Iowa are strangely unconvinced by this ... logic. Perhaps reasoning that the very first retaliatory tariff on American imports to Mexico is likely to land on Iowa corn, Chuck Grassley called it a "misuse of presidential tariff authority and counter to congressional intent." Grassley would prefer to tax remittances, an idea which even the Cato institute thinks is laughable.
Mexican President López Obrador is heading up here to try and talk the Orange Idiot off the ledge, and the markets have recovered slightly from their morning freak out.
Graphic via Business Insider, 11:45am
Still, it's probably not a good day to check your 401(k).
Luckily, we'll always have Lindsey Graham to tell us what's REALLY going on.
Oh, well then it's all good then! Shine on you crazy, sycophantic diamond.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.