Handelsområdet är Trumps bästa möjlighet att agera egenmäktigt.
Ekonomen Paul Krugman har en intressant idé om varför Trump fortsätter sin aggressiva handelspolitik trots att den inte ger de resultat han vill ha.
Osäkerheten har gjort att tillverkningsindustrin minskat sina investeringar och producerar mindre. Underskottet i handelsbalansen har ökat, snarare än minskat — vilket är resultatet av den lyckade delen av Trumps politik, nämligen de stora stimulanserna. Om det visar sig vara bra på lång sikt att stimulera ekonomin så starkt är en annan fråga; just nu får Trump de effekter han vill ha. Men det gäller alltså inte handelspolitiken där allt blir tvärt om relativt intentionerna.
Svaret på varför Trump fortsätter är enligt Krugman att handelspolitiken är ett omåde där presidenten kan utöva relativt mycket makt.
“One answer is that Trump has long had a fixation on the idea that tariffs are the answer to America’s problems, and he’s not the kind of man who reconsiders his prejudices in the light of evidence. But there’s also something else: U.S. trade law offers Trump more freedom of action — more ability to do whatever he wants — than any other policy area.
The basic story is that long ago — in fact, in the aftermath of the disastrous Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1930 — Congress deliberately limited its own role in trade policy. Instead, it gave the president the power to negotiate trade deals with other countries, which would then face up-or-down votes without amendments.
It was always clear, however, that this system needed some flexibility to respond to events. So the executive branch was given the power to impose temporary tariffs under certain conditions: import surges, threats to national security, unfair practices by foreign governments. The idea was that nonpartisan experts would determine whether and when these conditions existed, and the president would then decide whether to act.
This system worked well for many years. It turned out, however, to be extremely vulnerable to someone like Trump, for whom everything is partisan and expertise is a four-letter word. Trump’s tariff justifications have often been self-evidently absurd — seriously, who imagines that imports of Canadian steel threaten U.S. national security? But there’s no obvious way to stop him from imposing tariffs whenever he feels like it.
And there’s also no obvious way to stop his officials from granting individual businesses tariff exemptions, supposedly based on economic criteria but in fact as a reward for political support. Tariff policy isn’t the only arena in which Trump can practice crony capitalism — federal contracting is looking increasingly scandalous — but tariffs are especially ripe for exploitation.
So that’s why Trump is a Tariff Man: Tariffs let him exercise unconstrained power, rewarding his friends and punishing his enemies. Anyone imagining that he’s going to change his ways and start behaving responsibly is living in a fantasy world.”