Donald Trump Is No Ronald Reagan

By Amy Merrick

“We’re like the piggy bank that everybody’s robbing,” President Donald Trump said at a Saturday news conference at the G7 summit in Canada. “And that ends.”

The president, who perceives that the U.S. is being treated unfairly by its trading partners, had imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, along with a threat of further penalties. After a press conference in which Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated that his country plans to retaliate against the new tariffs, Trump said that when it comes to a potential trade battle, “We win that war a thousand times out of a thousand.”

Trump’s tariffs puzzle many economists; they are unlikely to effectively address China’s oversupply of steel or to lower U.S. trade deficits. But the decision is consistent with his rhetoric on the campaign trail, when he invoked Ronald Reagan’s example. “President Reagan deployed similar trade measures when motorcycle and semiconductor imports threatened U.S. industry,” Trump said in a June 2016 campaign speech in Pennsylvania. “I remember. His tariff on Japanese motorcycles was 45 percent, and his tariff to shield America’s semiconductor industry was 100 percent, and that had a big impact, folks. A big impact.”

Reagan did impose tariffs on Japanese motorcycles, electronics, and other products. But while these penalties could be seen by some as a precursor to Trump’s recent decisions, there are some critical differences. Reagan’s actions were more targeted, and he also promoted some free-trade policies alongside them, including proposing a North American common market. Perhaps more important is the fact that, according to a recent study, it wasn’t really the tariffs, but another policy altogether, that helped U.S. businesses compete in a global economy: Reagan’s change to the tax code in 1981, establishing …read more

Via:: The Atlantic


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