Trump is just using sanctions and tariffs aggressively to draw public attention to the US trade deficit and away from federal government overspending. Both are something that he rallied to curtail during the run up to the election, but the latter he seems eager to boost now that he is in office. Military, infrastructure, social issues, nuclear security, commerce, security and natural disaster suppression have all been allotted an increase in budget spending. As a result the overall budget and previously non-existent vanity projects, such as Trumps proposed Mexican border wall, will cause the federal government spending to rise, something that has been overshadowed by the blame laid at the feet of foreign economies.
This however may just be part of Trump’s larger strategy of misinformation, as can be seen too with his aggressive attitudes towards the media, Muslims, and many international deals and foreign nations. Trump’s populism is focusing the public narrative on such issues in a claim of boosting the US economy, but he is actually doing the same thing as predecessors, but has just taken on an aggressive demeanour as part of a public relations smoke and mirrors campaign. This distraction becomes increasingly apparent when comparing the fiscal policies of Obama and Trump, their unprecedented levels of high spending are remarkably similar when looking at military spending, deficit and debt, however as Obama’s presidency started in recession, Trump’s policies seem all the more extreme.
Further condemning evidence comes in the form of an IMF study that found that technological advancement is a bigger driver of unemployment in the United States than Chinese competition. So what is behind the differences in Trump’s rhetoric over the reality of the situation? A cynical spectator may be left assuming Trump is trying to deregulate and capitalise financially from a failing approach before a time of great change, climate change being a looming issue that will likely require greater cooperation and great change. Whatever the reason behind his policy decisions though it is clear Trump is using tariffs and sanctions in a similar way to his use of the media and misinformation, a profiteering slight-of-hand trick straight out of the days of Trump spinning the liquidation of casinos to his advantage.