Malacandra.me

President Trump: “I happen to be a tariff person because I’m a smart person, OK?”

President Trump: I happen to be a tariff person because I’m a smart person, OK?

by digby

The president talks about tariffs and threatens GM, saying "you're playing around with the wrong person." Oh my God:

President Trump: I happen to be a tariff person because I’m a smart person, OK? We have been ripped off so badly by people coming in and stealing our wealth. The steel industry has been rebuilt in a period of a year because of what I’ve done. We have a vibrant steel industry again, and soon it’ll be very vibrant. You know, they’re building plants all over the country because I put steel – because I put tariffs, 25 percent tariffs, on dumping steel.

Mr. Davis: Right. Right. Would you – would you think – what do you advise – what do you advise U.S. business to do, given that they are now faced with the tariffs they are, tariffs go up on January 1? You’re talking about the rest of the imports going to 10 percent ... 

President Trump: Well, what I’d advise is for them to build factories in the United States and to make the product here. And they have a lot of other alternatives. But if you look, there’s been no increase in inflation despite the tariffs, so all of these little – all of the things you heard about, Bob, are – have turned out to be false. We’re – we’re taking in billions of dollars. We’re creating tremendous numbers of jobs. Like in the steel industry, we were – we were almost out of the business and now we have – you know, thousands of jobs are being created. And we’re going to have our own steel industry, which is a very important industry. You don’t want to be – you know, you don’t want to be buying your steel from China, let me put it that way. But –

Mr. Davis: Let me ask you also, I mean, so you gave advice to the – to U.S. business. What advice would you give to the Chinese who are trying to decide how to deal with you?

President Trump: Make a fair deal. The only deal that would really be acceptable to me – other than obviously we have to do something on the theft of intellectual property, right – but the only deal would be China has to open up their country to competition from the United States. As far as other countries are concerned, that’s up to them. I’m interested in the United States. They have to open up China to the United States. Otherwise, I don’t see a deal being made. And if it’s not made, we will be taking in billions and billions of dollars.

Mr. Davis: OK.

President Trump: And what will happen, Bob, is a lot of the things we buy from China we’re going to make in this country.
[...]
Mr. Davis: You like – any comment on the – GM shutting its plants, laying off employees?

President Trump: Yeah. I think GM ought to stop making cars in China and make them here. And I think it was a big mistake for GM to do that. I think they forgot where they came from.

Mr. Davis: Uh-huh. Anything that you plan to do? Is there anything you can do?

President Trump: Well, it’s one plant in Ohio. But I love Ohio. And I told them: You’re playing around with the wrong person. And Ohio wasn’t properly represented by their Democrat senator, Senator Brown, because he didn’t get the point across. But we will all together get the point across to General Motors . And they better damn well open up a new plant there very quickly. You know, they haven’t closed – they’re reallocating it, it’s called. And I said, because their Cruze car isn’t selling, OK? They make a car called Chevy Cruze. And it’s not selling well. So I said: Then put a car that is selling well in there but get it open fast.

Mr. Davis: And when you say, “you said,” did you have a talk with – who were you talking with?

President Trump: I spoke with Mary Barra, the head of General Motors last night. I said: I heard you’re closing your plant. It’s not going to be closed for long, I hope, Mary, because if it is you’ve got a problem.

Mr. Davis: Uh-huh. OK. And did she answer you?

President Trump: She just sort of said we’re trying to get something – you know, it’s being reallocated. You understand that, right?

Mr. Davis: Yeah. Yeah.

President Trump: So she told me: The car’s not selling. I said, so maybe you got to make a better car.

Mr. Davis: Mmm hmm. And also –

President Trump: And that has nothing to do with tariffs, you know. That has nothing –

Mr. Davis: No, no, no. I know. It’s just the – we don’t get a chance to –

President Trump: You know, a lot of times people like to blame tariffs when they’re doing badly. So they’re doing badly. And they say, oh, let’s blame tariffs, you know, because they don’t know what they’re doing. So they’re doing badly. And they’ll say: Let’s blame tariffs. Why not? (Laughs.)

Mr. Davis: Right. Right.

President Trump: So, anyway. No, it had nothing to do with tariffs.

Aside from the avalanche of lies, he makes it very obvious that he has no idea what he's talking about. Literally. Trade is his passion, his raison d'etre and yet he's obviously completely clueless about what tariffs are and how they work.

And he thinks he can strongarm GM into doing his bidding. I don't know the mechanism. Is he planning to seize the company? Impose martial law on its plants? What executive power does he have to make General Motors do what he wants it to do?

He also doesn't know the difference between tariffs and interest rates:

President Trump: So but what I’m saying is that I am very happy with what’s going on right now. We’ve only used a small portion of what we have to use because I have another $267 billion [in imports] to go if I want, and then I’m also able to raise interest rates. And we have money that is pouring right now, pouring – 
Mr. Davis: When you say interest rates, do you mean – do you mean tariffs, as opposed to interest rates? 
President Trump: I’m sorry, the rate, the 25 percent rate – 
Mr. Davis: Yeah, yeah, yeah. OK. 
President Trump: Without even doing any more. 
Mr. Davis: Yeah. 
President Trump: We have money that is pouring into our treasury right now, and on January 1 it’ll become much more so. And here’s the story: If we don’t make a deal, then I’m going to put the $200 -- and it’s really $67 -- billion additional on at an interest rate between 10 and 25 depending.

Since he believes allies write checks to the US to pay for "protection" why wouldn't he think "money is pouring into our treasure on an interest rate between 10 and 25." It's gibberish but then most of what he says is gibberish. 

I think the reason he was never invested in the stock market is that he doesn't understand it.

But he's a business genius. He says so all the time. He had a TV show. So he must be.