Bill Kelly: Why tariffs may be the new normal
Last week, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, David MacNaughton, suggested that the burdensome tariffs that President Donald Trump imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum would likely be lifted in the next few weeks.
MacNaughton didn’t really offer any substantive evidence to support his statement beyond suggesting that lifting the tariffs made good sense; but if we’ve learned one thing about Trump’s White House reign of error, it’s that good sense and rational thinking are hardly hallmarks of the administration.
We’ve certainly seen that in a number of foreign policy decisions, but that kind of erratic decision making has also infected trade negotiations with Canada.
In spite of publicly stating that he only wanted to tweak the NAFTA deal, it was clear from the outset that Trump wasn’t looking for fairness or compromise, he was looking for capitulation on key issues.
For Trump, it’s all about playing the role that he’s created for himself.
In spite of a string of failed business ventures and bankruptcies, Trump portrays himself as the ultimate deal maker who always comes out on top, and his legion of followers buy into that persona, hook, line and sinker.
Any evidence that contradicts that perception of Trump’s abilities, however obvious that evidence may be, is simply dismissed as “fake news” by Trump and his sycophants.
So, what’s that got to do with tariffs?
Trump likes to create crisis situations, often times where there isn’t one, to perpetuate the illusion that he is the ultimate problem solver and hero to his core supporters.
He’s done it with his fabricated Mexican border crisis, and he did it with the baseless ban on Muslim immigrants.
And he’s done it with steel and aluminum tariffs, claiming that legitimate imports of Canadian steel and aluminum somehow constitute a threat to American security.
It’s all part of his strategy of fear to convince his core supporters that the world is against the U.S. and that he, and only he, can be the champion to ensure that America prevails.
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Trump doesn’t need a border wall or tariffs, but he does need the conflict that they create to solidify his support with his base.
To lift the tariffs would be to admit that Canadian steel and aluminum are, in fact, not a threat to American national security and Trump never admits to making mistakes.
There may be more narcissism than pragmatism in Trump’s policies, but we’re stuck with the consequences.
Because of that, tariffs may well be the new normal between the U.S. and Canada.
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