There’s a shared consensus among observers across the ideological spectrum:
- Trump’s threatened tariffs against Mexico are monumentally dumb, self-defeating, and potentially harmful as a matter of policy; and
- The announcement is another sign of desperation as his immigration and border policies keep failing and he worries about his brand image on immigration ahead of 2020.
According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication at America’s Voice: “Trump’s real brand image on immigration is that he is cruel, reckless, a hypocrite and a gigantic failure. The latest tariff idea is the largest tax increase on Americans in recent history and will inflict major harm on American consumers and businesses, while extending the President’s losing streak on his signature issue. Deterrence-only policies flavored with cruelty and presidential bluster are simply not helpful in addressing the humanitarian and refugee crisis Trump helped create.”
Below, we present key excerpts from key observers, eviscerating Trump’s latest terrible policy idea and capturing his underlying failures and motivations:
Miriam Jordan in the New York Times, “Trump Threatens Tariffs on Mexico. Have Any of His Immigration Measures Worked?”
It is just the latest move by the president to rein in illegal immigration after a series of executive orders, regulations, ramped-up border security and diplomatic threats have failed to dissuade Central Americans, mostly fleeing poverty and violence, from journeying north. In fact, migrant families have continued to arrive in unprecedented numbers.
… The bigger question — will it work — is unknowable for now. What is more clear is that little else has worked so far — in some cases because the administration’s initiatives are so constitutionally questionable that they have been blocked by the courts and not been given a chance to work.
David Graham in The Atlantic, “Trump Can’t Figure Out How to Keep His Biggest Promise”
Trump’s announcement of escalating tariffs on all goods from Mexico until illegal immigration stops is a desperate move. The sources of that desperation, though, are his determination to keep his promise to secure the border and the fact that despite trying constantly to make good on his vow, more than two years into his presidency, he still can’t figure out how.
Toluse Olorunnipa in the Washington Post, “Shutdowns, emergencies and tariffs: Trump’s frenetic immigration approach has become central to his 2020 bid”
Trump has shut down the government, declared a national emergency over his proposed border wall, threatened to close the U.S.-Mexico border, cut off funding for Northern Triangle countries, sent additional troops to the border, fired his top immigration officials, selected an immigration “czar,” pitched an overhaul of the legal immigration system and called for releasing immigrant detainees into so-called sanctuary cities.
…The wave of border policies flowing from the White House offers a clear signal that Trump’s reelection bid is likely to focus on immigration more than any other topic — a cause that animates his base but also highlights his failure to contain the flow of Central American migrants coming to the United States in record numbers.
John Cassidy in the The New Yorker, “Trump’s Crazy Mexico Tariff Is Stoking a Meltdown on Wall Street”
…this latest Trump power play is so extreme and potentially self-destructive that, according to the Wall Street Journal, even his own hard-line trade adviser, Robert Lighthizer, opposed it.
On Wall Street, there is a lot of nervousness about where things are heading, and whether Tariff Man understands the risks that he is taking. Financial markets don’t usually go south gradually; they collapse suddenly, in a heap. ‘I keep reading [that] Trump views the stock market as a real-time indicator of how he’s doing,’ Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, tweeted on Friday ‘Either that’s wrong, or he’s going to have to blink on tariffs, because the market can’t live with this level of crazy.’
Catherine Rampell in her syndicated Washington Post column, “Just a few of the reasons that Trump’s Mexico tariffs are deeply stupid”
Amid calls for impeachment, a persistently underwater approval rating, subpoenas for financial records and an ever-growing list of scandals, the strong economy is pretty much the only thing President Trump has going for him right now. It’s his best shot at reelection. And for some reason he seems keen on destroying it.
On Thursday evening the Trump administration announced that it would impose a new 5 percent tariff on Mexican imports, ratcheting up in increments to 25 percent by Oct. 1. This is allegedly to pressure Mexico to stop the flow of immigrants coming to the United States. This decision is so mind-bogglingly stupid, it’s hard to keep track of all the reasons it’s dumb. Here are a few.” [see link for full list].