In a mere 48 hours, incessant Donald Trump lies, communicated via Twitter, have rocked the stock market, enraged union workers, and have further eroded public confidence in the ability of the White House and its enablers in Congress to govern.
Trump's decision to attack General Motors was typical of a person who refuses to take responsibility for his own harebrained policies. Trump's imposition of high steel and aluminum tariffs led to the announcement by GM that it was closing assembly plants in Detroit-Hamtramck and Warren, Michigan; Lordstown, Ohio; and White March, Maryland. In addition, Trump's punishing tariffs aimed at Canada forced GM to announce the closure of the GM plant in Oshawa, Ontario, a decision that will also affect jobs in the United States. In total, 15 percent of GM's work force--14,000 employees--will be laid off. The cascading effect of plant closures will be felt by countless other workers in companies that supply or service the GM plants. Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs have also resulted in reduced U.S. plant output by Ford, Honda, and Fiat Chrysler.
Never missing a chance to attack a woman in a leadership position, in this case GM CEO Mary Barra, Trump castigated the female executive. Speaking to reporters, Trump said he was "very tough" on Barra for ceasing production of the Chevrolet Volt and Cruze models and moving the production of the Blazer SUV to Mexico. Trump warned Barra that GM "better get back to Ohio and soon," a sort of "drop the gun Louie or you're gonna get it" type of threat best left as a line in old movies. Trump refuses to admit that it was his "dick measuring" trade antics with China's President Xi Jinping and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau--my tariffs are bigger than yours--that led Trump to his ill-advised decision to impose 25 percent tariffs on imported steel and 15 percent on aluminum.
Trump, a failed casino owner and TV game show host, who has declared bankruptcy at least five times, is the last person any actual business executive, particularly one responsible to shareholders and an outside board of directors, should listen to for advice.
Trump also threatened to end subsidies to GM for production of electric vehicles--a decision that will result in additional layoffs across the electric vehicle production and research and development sectors. The Orion Township, Michigan, GM plant, which produces the Chevrolet Bolt electric car and is currently operating at a mere 34 percent output capacity, would be forced to close if Trump delivers his promised body blow to GM's electric vehicle subsidy.
Trump's unhinged outbursts, mostly on Twitter, are having disastrous ripple effects across the U.S. and global economies. Just one tweet threatened the conventional and electric vehicle industries in the United States: "Very disappointed with General Motors and their CEO, Mary Barra, for closing plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. Nothing being closed in Mexico & China. The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get! We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including . . . for electric cars. General Motors made a big China bet years ago when they built plants there (and in Mexico)--don't think that bet is going to pay off. I am here to protect America's Workers!"
In reality, Trump's threats and boastful lies are costing America's workers their jobs. Trump's tariffs on imported vehicles, which have resulted in retaliatory tariffs by the European Union, China, Canada, and Mexico on U.S. vehicles, also contributed to the plant closures by GM. And if Trump continues to sabotage the American and global economies, further GM plant closings are in the offing. The GM plant in Lansing, Michigan, which produces two Cadillac models and the Chevrolet Camaro, is operating at 33 percent capacity. The GM plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which produces the Chevrolet Corvette, which had some foreign demand prior to Trump's tariffs, is now operating at 27 percent capacity. The closure of the Bowling Green plant would finally provide presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway with her fantasized "Bowling Green Massacre."
While attacking GM, Trump was also lying about the construction of a new steel plant in the United States. On the same day Trump threatened GM, he tweeted: "Steel Dynamics announced that it will build a brand new 3 million ton steel mill in the Southwest that will create 600 good-paying U.S. JOBS. Steel JOBS are coming back to America, just like I predicted. Congratulations to Steel Dynamics!"
Steel Dynamics, based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is only considering a plant in the southwest, one that would, primarily, serve Mexico's steel needs. Trump could not even name the precise location of the plant because Steel Dynamics has not made a final determination, which would be based on generous subsidies from potential hosting states and municipalities, none, of which, have yet been negotiated. One can call Trump's steel plant a "ghost plant" because it may never be built and is only a figment of his deranged imagination.
It was not the first time that Trump lied about new steel plants in the United States. On July 31 of this year, at a campaign rally in Tampa, Trump said, "U.S. Steel just announced that they are building six new steel mills. And that number is soon going to be lifted, but I'm not allowed to say that, so I won't." Trump's boast was not true. U.S. Steel was not building six or more new plants. It was merely restarting two idled blast furnaces at a plant in Granite City, Illinois, and making capital improvements to an existing subsidiary plant in Leipsic, Ohio.
In another tweet, sent on November 28, Trump also lied about a new BMW plant in the United States: "General Motors is very counter to what other auto, and other, companies are doing. Big Steel is opening and renovating plants all over the country. Auto companies are pouring into the U.S., including BMW, which just announced a major new plant. The U.S.A. is booming."
BMW, which has a plant in Spartansburg, South Carolina, is, like Steel Dynamics, only "considering" a new engine-only manufacturing plant in the United States. BMW never announced that it was building a "major new plant" anywhere in the United States. If BMW does build an engine plant, it will be mainly for BMW vehicle assembly in Mexico. Of course, Trump's threats to permanently close the U.S.-Mexican border will weigh heavily on BMW's final decision.
Trump's most recent threat to raise the tariffs on foreign autos produced outside North America from 2.5 to 25 percent has shaken an already-jittery automobile industry. Import duties on Chinese-made vehicles have already been raised to 27.5 percent. Trump's three trade advisers--Larry Kudlow (a one-time cocaine-addicted official in the Reagan administration, nicknamed "Crackhead Larry"), right-wing trade protectionist Peter Navarro, and tariff proponent Robert Lighthizer--are calling the shots on Trump's rapid-fire trade threats.
Much of the current state of flux in today's global commerce arises from Trump's "alpha male" complex, resulting from a brash persona striving to mask his own sexual insecurity. Trump's "alpha mask," which sees successful women as a threat, may be hiding deeper demons, including latent homosexuality or a sadomasochism disorder, including predation of defenseless minors. Trump's inability to deal with Barra at GM, Democratic female members of Congress, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May are examples of Trump's psychological complex having severe consequences, both politically and economically.
For those in the Mahoning Valley of Ohio, Metro Detroit, and suburban Baltimore who are losing their GM jobs, but still support Trump, they can swoon, while staring at Trump on TV, to Fleetwood Mac's lyrics:
Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies
Oh, no, no you can't disguise
Tell me lies