When it comes to misplaced pride, Donald Trump isn't the president — he's the king.
Trump demonstrated that again today in a Twitter thread where he boasted about suspending tariff increases on China from 10% to 25%, a deal he reached with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the recent G20 Summit. He then boasted about enforcing the tariffs in the first place, appearing to think that China was paying for them.
The negotiations with China have already started. Unless extended, they will end 90 days from the date of our wonde… https://t.co/iYphE2px2L— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1543933816.0
......on seeing whether or not a REAL deal with China is actually possible. If it is, we will get it done. China is… https://t.co/GVhX7U9ZQF— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1543935335.0
Then the President bestowed on himself a nickname that would stick for all the wrong reasons.
....I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay… https://t.co/fj8Bwjgywu— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1543935821.0
Despite being a self-described "tariff man," Trump's tweets seem to demonstrate a failure to grasp just how tariffs work.
A tariff is essentially a tax on certain goods imported from other companies. Though the United States is undoubtedly making money from the heightened tariffs, that money isn't coming from China as Trump seems to think. In fact, it's coming from the pocketbooks of American manufacturers and subsequently American consumers.
The very reason tariffs are effective is because domestic price increases force manufacturers to reevaluate the targeted imports — often by subsequently raising prices for consumers. In some cases, tariffs even force manufacturers to relocate out of their original country.
Ironically enough, a staple of Trump's 2016 campaign platform was keeping jobs and companies in the United States, but a drastic increase in tariffs would do just the opposite.
Republican Senator Ben Sasse (NE) tried to remind the President of these basic principles.
Tariffs are taxes on American families. https://t.co/otsXbft1YQ— Ben Sasse (@Ben Sasse)1543939697.0
As did economist Robert Reich:
I'm sorry, Mr. President, but you got this wrong. Tariffs are paid by American consumers. They raise the prices of… https://t.co/W7b73vKmyR— Robert Reich (@Robert Reich)1543942506.0
They weren't the only Twitter users trying to get through to Trump.
@realDonaldTrump Tariffs are taxes on Americans.— William LeGate (@William LeGate)1543954208.0
@realDonaldTrump Tariffs are taxes!!!!!!— Clara (@Clara)1543953606.0
@realDonaldTrump Tariffs are just a sneaky tax on US citizens.— conscientious objector (@conscientious objector)1543951368.0
@realDonaldTrump Someone please teach this genius how tariffs work!!— AnG 💙🆘 (@AnG 💙🆘)1543951461.0
@realDonaldTrump Scary you don't understand who pays the tariffs. Honestly thought this was the parody account at first.— LukeH (@LukeH)1543954264.0
While Trump was bragging about the "$billions" earned from the tariffs, the stock market fell by 800 points. Many consider this a sign that investors are still wary of an impending trade war with China, despite Trump's touting of the deal.
Dan Suzuki, a portfolio strategist, said to CNN:
"People are still very concerned about the trade war. Financial markets are increasingly showing signs of fear of a recession."
Despite their exasperation, some Americans still found humor in the situation.
The name "tariff man" quickly took off, with folks all across Twitter imagining his persona.
Local Tariff Man Still Doesn't Appear To Understand Foreign Countries Don't Pay His Tariffs, Americans Do https://t.co/4SFvd94JgD— Daniel Dale (@Daniel Dale)1543937033.0
Scott Free becomes Tariff Man when signaled at night— Sam Stein (@Sam Stein)1543936089.0
Tariff Man’s super power is he can convince blue-collar workers it isn’t his fault when they lose jobs because of h… https://t.co/6SePqfTmV2— Adam Best (@Adam Best)1543936533.0
Ladies, if he - Talks about himself constantly - Wanders away in the middle of conversations - Obsesses about trad… https://t.co/GjxvQ0BU1F— Kevin M. Kruse (@Kevin M. Kruse)1543938450.0
I’m sorry Stan Lee didn’t live long enough to create Tariff Man— Evan Smith (@Evan Smith)1543935937.0
For some, the name took on a musical tone.
Tariff Man: Who should write the song? Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen?— Joyce Alene (@Joyce Alene)1543950443.0
And the parodies soon followed.
🎶 Tariff Man, Tariff Man Loved by dictators and the Klan Spins the truth, webs of lies Likes to brag about his crowd size 🎶— The Volatile Mermaid (@The Volatile Mermaid)1543938717.0
"May I have your attention, please? May I have your attention, please? Will the real Tariff Man please stand up? I… https://t.co/jRjrJF5Xj3— Bradley P. Moss (@Bradley P. Moss)1543937002.0
Trumps new song: Tariff Man And I think it's gonna be a long long time 'Till touch down brings the stocks round… https://t.co/L1P7PK8LkY— Booger (@Booger)1543950368.0
@DearAuntCrabby @realDonaldTrump 🎶 sing us a song, you’re the Tariff Man, tell us some lies tonight Yeah, you’re… https://t.co/xGC4ZgkaFQ— The 305 Pizzazz Pirate ☮💜 🏴☠️ (@The 305 Pizzazz Pirate ☮💜 🏴☠️)1543947830.0
While the nickname may provide some fun for now, it won't be nearly as funny if American consumers are forced to face stratospheric inflation.