Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

Zirpoli: Trump's tariffs, foreign policy an extension of his 'wild, unpredictable character'

As he adds another $200 billion in new tariffs on Chinese imports into the United States, President Donald Trump continues to demonstrate that he has no understanding of how tariffs work.

“Tariffs will bring in FAR MORE wealth to our country than even a phenomenal deal of the traditional kind,” Trump tweeted after imposing the additional tariffs. He still doesn’t understand that tariffs on imports from China are paid for by American businesses and consumers, not China. In addition, China will likely reciprocate and make additional cuts in the products they buy from American farmers and other businesses.


Trump’s tariff war is driving American farmers out of business as they lose some of their biggest international customers. As Trump pulls the U.S. out of multiple trade agreements, international customers are finding other, more reliable, sources from around the world. It will be difficult for U.S. farmers to win back these customers.

Much of the slide in the stock market — the S&P 500 was down 6.2%, the Dow was down 5.6% and Nasdaq was down 3.9% — during his second full year in office is a reaction to Trump’s tariffs. The same is true for most of the decline in farm income.


According to the Foreign Agricultural Service, China bought $17 billion worth of U.S. farm products in 2017. This decreased to around $12 billion in 2018 after Trump’s tariffs and continues to decline significantly in 2019. So far, U.S. agricultural exports to China have decreased by around 85 percent in 2019, according to the FAS. As a result, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, farmers are filing for bankruptcy protection at twice the rate compared to 2014. The Economic Research Service found that U.S. farm income fell in 2018 to the lowest level since the 2009 recession.

Kip Eideberg, vice president of government affairs for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, stated that Trump’s tariffs will “drive down exports, and suppress job gains for the industry by as much as 400,000 over 10 years. It will also invite China to hit back at American businesses, farmers, communities, and families.”

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The news last week that Trump personally lost over a billion dollars in the 1980s and 1990s reminds us that he is not the deal maker that he wants his supporters to believe. No wonder he doesn’t want us to see his tax returns. My guess is that they will show him to be living on borrowed money from sources he doesn’t want us to know about.

Trump’s tariff policy is a lot like his overall foreign policy: Impulsive and attention seeking.

He has given North Korean leader Kim two presidential-level summits and has received nothing in return. But it did give Trump more time on television. Trump has declared the nuclear issue with North Korea solved, while Kim continues to develop his nuclear weapons program and delivery systems. Kim and Russian president Vladimir Putin are working together and U.S. intelligence agencies believe Putin is helping Kim with his missile technology.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to have “nice” phone calls with Putin who must be thinking he has hit pay dirt after helping elect Trump to the White House.

As stated by, “The President often treats foreign policy as an extension of his wild, unpredictable character that abhors restraints, has little appreciation for history and lives in the moment. He says he’s the master dealmaker, but he’s more of a destroyer than a builder on the world stage. He lives for splashy headlines … the spotlight of one-on-one summits, jabbing allies and using tyrants as pen pals.”

President Putin continues to outsmart President Trump on the world stage. For example, when Trump pushed Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro to leave his country, Putin told Maduro to stay put and Maduro is still in power. When Trump told Kim in North Korea to stop testing missiles, Putin held a meeting with Kim and a week later Kim was testing missiles again. When Trump tries to act tough with Iran, Putin sides with Iran and continues to undermine Trump’s efforts there. When Trump tries to be strong in Syria, Putin sides with Syria and undermines Trump’s efforts there.


One would think Trump would call Putin out on these behaviors that are clearly intended to undermine his influence in the world. Instead, Trump seems afraid to confront Putin, even in a tweet. This from a man who has never been afraid to tweet an insult to anyone or any institution. Regardless of what Putin does, however, Trump is impotent and very quiet.