the Trump base’s inner children get flim-flammed because “tariffs” are the magic word

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Will the Trumpian base be sufficiently masochistic to take the punishment for his incompetence as long as they perceive that “the libs are getting pwned”.

His magic words are failing in succession: 1% tax cut, North Korea deal, trade war tariffs, and Mexican wall. His critical constituencies are beginning to suffer.

The truck full of chickens is coming home to roost. His base might be less into his re-election when they start losing more money. And the impeachment inquiry’s not even at full volume yet.


Which is the front for his biggest con where “trade wars are easy to win”.

It seems that, no matter what the diplomatic problem and whoever the source of the problem, the snake oil solution is tariffs – whether directly relevant to a trade dispute, or not relevant at all, as in the decision to use tariff threats to force Mexico to the table to negotiate on the management of migration across the border.

The recent sense of relief among allies and big trading partners that Trump had decided he wanted to fight only one trade conflict at a time – and to sort out China first – has been shattered. At the same time, Trump’s reputation for fickleness, inconsistency and unreliability has gained traction.

From my vantage point, this extraordinary and bellicose behaviour has more to do with the 2020 presidential election campaign than with benefiting US consumers, US businesses and the world economy. It is less to do with “make America great again” than with “make sure I am elected again”.

Because, at this point in his presidency, Trump is terribly short on delivering on promises. His first, and clearly important win was to get big tax cuts through early in 2018. His hopes of a deal on North Korea are in shreds. His promise that trade wars are easy to fight, and easy to win, is looking messily unfulfilled. His promise of a Mexican wall looks embarrassingly in limbo.

The insight from this flurry of tariff attacks is that it is a mistake to think the Trump administration is interested in any trade deals unless they deliver votes in next year’s presidential election. With no principled anchor to steady economic or trade policy, the cynical reality is deals that deliver votes will be signed (include the Mexico immigration deal, and completion of the long-delayed US-Mexico-Canada Agreement). Those that don’t will be left to drift. And, as long as the economy does not crash, playing tough with China is the best vote-winner of all.

Not for no reason were so many snake oil salesmen successful.…

What’s worse is that there is an impending recession to be made worse by Trumpian economic incompetence.

“Sadopopulism” is the notion that you’re doing half of populism. You promise people things, but then when you get power you have no intention of even trying to implement any policy on behalf of the people. Instead, you deliberately make the suffering worse for your critical constituency. The people who got Trump into office, for example, are traditional Republican voters plus people in counties who are doing badly in terms of health care and other measures, and who need help.…


What’s worse is who has always helped him.

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When they realize they have been taken, look out