Hold on, every day, to the fact that this is not normal: Matthew Yglesias: Trump Wall Street Journal Interview: Transcript Shows Trade Ignorance: "He confuses tariffs and interest rates, and invents phantom new steel plants.... One of Trump’s earliest trade moves was to impose broad new taxes on imported steel and aluminum, which has allowed him to hand out exemptions as political favors.... It’s been bad for American companies that manufacture things made out of metal. Trump’s view, however, is that this policy has been a stunning success that’s made America’s steel industry 'vibrant'.... 'You know, they’re building plants all over the country because I put steel—because I put tariffs, 25 percent tariffs, on dumping steel'...

...In Trump’s mind, of course, “they’re building plants all over the country,” which is something he says constantly at rallies even though it isn’t true. Yet perhaps precisely because so much of his presidency consists of these fanciful rhetorical constructs, he doesn’t seem to understand that he has policymaking authority beyond just saying stuff. Cars are made out of metal, so taxing foreign metal in order to let American metal-makers raise prices is bad for American carmakers.... While Trump has a lot of thoughts on the subject, he doesn’t actually have a policy to offer. Asked if he has “any comment on GM shutting its plants, laying off employees,” Trump starts with a nice message of solidarity... [and then] Trump just filibusters:

Well, it’s one plant in Ohio. But I love Ohio. And I told them: You’re playing around with the wrong person. And Ohio wasn’t properly represented by their Democrat senator, Senator Brown, because he didn’t get the point across. But we will all together get the point across to General Motors. And they better damn well open up a new plant there very quickly. You know, they haven’t closed — they’re reallocating it, it’s called. And I said, because their Cruze car isn’t selling, OK? They make a car called Chevy Cruze. And it’s not selling well. So I said: Then put a car that is selling well in there but get it open fast.

We’ve gone from the president boldly reviving American industry by taxing foreign metal to the president kind of vaguely begging the CEO of a car company to keep a marginal factory open. Trump seems to realize this is weak, so upon follow-up, he recasts himself in a more confrontational light:

President Trump: I spoke with Mary Barra, the head of General Motors, last night. I said: I heard you’re closing your plant. It’s not going to be closed for long, I hope, Mary, because if it is you’ve got a problem.... So she told me: The car’s not selling. I said, so maybe you got to make a better car.

That’s Trump’s solution for Midwestern communities devastated by the loss of auto manufacturing plants. Maybe the bosses should make better cars. Maybe!...

#shouldread #oranagehairedbaboons #tariffs #globalization