Trump's Tariff Inconsistency

Trump has long argued that imports harm the importing nation: the represent jobs being sent overseas, they are debts, they represent selling out national sovereignty, they are a hollowing out mechanism, etc. Major aspects of his trade war have been to reduce US imports from China, Europe, and other places while increasing US exports. Trump is a proud mercantilist.

Which makes his behavior towards Iran strange. Trump has imposed a number of sanctions on Iran which prevent Iran from importing. If Trump’s justification for tariffs is true, then the economic sanctions levied on Iran will only serve to strengthen them and weaken US and allied economies by limiting exports. Conversely, if he believes the sanctions will harm Iran, then they must equally harm the US when imposed on us by the government.

If Trump’s trade logic were to be taken literally, he should try to flood Iran with US-made goods, thus “destroying” their country, manufacturing, and economy. Any attempt at preventing this would only serve to “make Iran great again.”

Since I made this observation last night, several Trump supporters have tried to square the circle. No explanation was satisfactory (they all were some variation on “you just don’t understand negotiating. Just read Art of the Deal!”), I am open to any attempt to square this circle.

Trump’s only consistency is his inconsistency.'

See also Mark Perry on this.