With President Trump set to attend the Group of Seven this weekend, it’s already emerging that he has “shaken up” the schedule. Trump has called for a special meeting focused on the global economy, where he’ll tout his message about jobs and trade, while contrasting the stupendous Trump economy with Europe’s economic struggles.
In other words, Trump will proclaim his “America First” agenda a smashing success, and throw that in the faces of our European allies.
Yet behind the scenes, such bravado is a lot harder to find. The Post brings us this striking report:
Top White House advisers notified President Trump earlier this month that some internal forecasts showed that the economy could slow markedly over the next year, stopping short of a recession but complicating his path to reelection in 2020.
The private forecast, one of several delivered to Trump and described by three people familiar with the briefing, contrasts sharply with the triumphant rhetoric the president and his surrogates have repeatedly used to describe the economy.
This juxtaposition, between Trump’s planned public display at the G-7 and his advisers’ private economic terrors, is striking. It shows that Trump’s appearance will in reality demonstrate that the very nationalist agenda he will be touting is, thus far, a record of deep fraudulence and failure, covered up with lies.
It’s important to appreciate just how heavily Trump’s political mystique relies on the constant middle finger he gives to allies and international leaders. It’s central to the story he told in 2016 and the one he’ll tell in 2020.
Trumpworld told the same story about last year’s G-7 meeting. After Trump lashed out at our allies amid a spectacular public meltdown, Trump’s image-makers circulated a photo of allied leaders angrily ganging up on Trump as he sat with his arms crossed in defiance.
The photo was quickly spun by Trump propagandists into a viral statement of the Trumpist mythology. There was Trump, absorbing the slings and arrows of elite global leaders’ disdain for disruptive conduct undertaken as the avenging angel for U.S. workers against the globalists who have fleeced them for so long. Trump welcomed their contempt for him — it proved whose side he’s really on.
But Trump’s grievances toward the G-7 leaders were based on nonsense. Trump exaggerated the United States’ alleged victimization by high tariffs. His claim that the United States is getting badly ripped off by payments to NATO was a lie. And Trumpworld concocted a story about Trump’s alleged mistreatment by Canadians that was an invention. Trump’s big “America First” show was a stew of exaggerations, lies and megalomaniacal fantasies, none of which did anything meaningful for U.S. workers.
This history is important in explaining what’s happening right now — and what will happen at the G-7 meeting this time.
Trump’s planned display at this year’s G-7 is similarly intended for his domestic audience. Officials say he will contrast U.S. economic successes with European struggles, touting his tax cuts, deregulation, and trade and energy policies. That last one is a particular sore spot, because it references Trump’s pullout from the international climate deal.
Trump’s obvious intention, then, is to rub those Euro-weenie elites’ faces in his alleged “America First” successes, which he has undertaken in defiance of them, as his supporters at home cheer.
Nothing but fail
But the reality is that Trump’s “America First” agenda, particularly the trade war with China, is a key reason the U.S. economy is now at greater risk of tipping into recession. Even Trump’s GOP allies admit this. And Trump constituencies are bearing the brunt of those trade hostilities.
What’s more, the tax cuts that Trump will boast about are not providing the economic rocket fuel Trump proclaimed. In pursuing them, Trump sold out on the economic populism he promised his supporters in 2016, embracing conventional GOP plutocracy in a way that benefited those hated elites far more than workers.
Yet when Trump cites these tax cuts while gloating over Europe’s struggles, his voters are supposed to think this shows he’s fighting for them.
Indeed, if you think about it, Trump’s gloating itself underscores the deeper folly here. Trump’s message, abroad and at home, is that the fact that they’re losing shows we’re winning:
But as Stephen Collinson points out, Trump has a strong interest in “helping to shake Europe out of its economic malaise,” because worsening problems there make a recession here more likely. Yet Trump is now threatening an expanded trade war with Europe, again based on fabricated metrics supposedly showing Europe treats us “horribly.”
As Bloomberg’s Brendan Murray puts it: “It’s hard to fathom the additional fallout if Europe gets engulfed next in Trump’s trade wars.”
But Trump’s idea — that if they are losing and we are besting them, then we must be winning — is deeply entangled with Trump’s zero-sum “America First” worldview. So gloating about “their” losses will actually reveal the folly of that worldview.
Or take climate change. When Trump announced he would pull out of the Paris deal, he put on another show about sticking it to the globalists in a way that would unshackle the U.S. economy — and bring coal roaring back. Not only is the economy slowing, but also the administration falsified a massive coal rebound, and coal miners are struggling horribly.
Meanwhile, the Amazon is on fire, and French President Emmanuel Macron is calling for the G-7 to treat this as a galvanizing moment. But Trump’s only play is to flaunt his contempt for international cooperation in the face of the severely worsening climate threat. What exactly has this done for U.S. workers?
And if our economy continues to slow, what’s Trump’s plan? Trump has resorted to all manner of lies and conspiracy theories to mask the slowdown. And as The Post reports, this is what Trump is truly counting on:
He has told aides that he thinks he can convince Americans that the economy is vibrant and unrattled through a public messaging campaign.
You can bet Trump’s routine at the G-7 will be key to this “public messaging campaign.” Trump will distract his supporters from all this failure by publicly putting on a show of “disruption” that, once again, has nothing but lies, empty boasts and megalomania at its core.