President Trump’s go-to tactics in impeachment — obsession with conspiracy theories and reliance on lies — won’t help him defend his handling of trade. On that, Trump has no one to blame but himself, and seemingly no desire to prevent a bad situation from becoming worse. In fact, his doubling down on trade wars may finally wreck the strong economy he inherited from President Obama.

Trump has made three moves in the last few days signaling he intends to expand his counterproductive trade wars. First, he let on that a trade deal with China is unlikely before Nov. 2020. So much for a mysterious “phase one” trade deal he announced in October. “I don’t have a deadline,” Trump told reporters in London on Tuesday. “In some ways, I think it’s better to wait until after the election with China.” The markets disagreed, as CNN reported: “U.S. stock futures turned negative after Trump’s comments, and yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury plunged. The VIX, a measure of market volatility, shot up more than 6%.” In addition, The Post reported, “The [China] comments followed his announcement, via Twitter, that he is restoring tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Brazil and Argentina. And his administration separately said it is considering new levies on a range of French goods in retaliation for a new digital tax.”

Trump has learned nothing from the stalemate with China and remains impervious to the damage he is inflicting on American farmers, manufacturers and consumers. Any perceived cessation of trade hostilities now seems like wishful thinking. (As The Post reported, “Trump’s team appeared to be winding down its trade fights in recent weeks, quietly foregoing tariffs on European auto imports, allowing American companies to continue doing business with Chinese telecom giant Huawei, and canceling a tariff hike on Chinese goods planned for October while working toward a ‘phase one’ trade deal with Beijing.”)

For a president who ran on the promise to revive manufacturing and whose only hope for reelection rests on a booming economy, Trump’s policy moves may prove disastrous. Manufacturing was already in trouble thanks to Trump’s trade wars. The Post reported, “U.S. manufacturing disappointed in November, according to the Institute for Supply Management. Its manufacturing index dropped to 48.1 percent, from 48.3 percent in October, coming in well below analyst expectations. Readings below 50 percent indicate business conditions are getting worse. … Also Monday, the Commerce Department issued revised numbers for September construction spending, which showed a 0.3 percent decline instead of the 0.5 percent surge as originally reported.”

It’s no coincidence that Trump’s former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn is out warning that there is no one around Trump to tell him no. It is not clear that even if such figures remained Trump would listen to them. Trump’s narcissism, blinding ignorance and insatiable need to pick fights so as to appear tough now threaten to submarine the 10-year economic recovery. So much for “Trade wars are good, and easy to win.”

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