Presidential campaign: I bid no Trump
When the press releases hit our e-mail inboxes Wednesday, I thought it was a joke: "Committee to Draft Donald Trump in 2012 Formed," blared the headline. Apparently I wasn't the only one. "Reinstitute the draft just for him?" asked my editorial-writing colleague Jon Healey. "Seems a little extreme. And we’re pulling people out of Afghanistan, not sending more in. But I guess I could be persuaded."
But no, the committee proposes to send the real estate mogul to the Oval Office, not Kabul. And apparently, they're not actually kidding. There is in fact a grass-roots committee, which according to the release is absolutely, positively, cross-their-hearts "not directed, authorized or funded by Trump," that aims to persuade him to run for the Republican presidential nomination. Not that Trump appears to need much persuading. In an appearance at the CPAC conference last week, he announced that he would decide in June whether to announce his candidacy.
I don't want to throw cold water on a campaign that could be at least as entertaining as Pat Paulsen's old presidential bids or Stephen Colbert's run in 2008. But Trump either isn't in on the joke or he's the best deadpan humorist since Steve Carell. What else to make of his recent policy statements on MSNBC?
"We're the highest-taxed nation in the world, OK, so it's not like 'Oh gee, you can raise taxes so easily'... What I would be doing, however, is I'd be taking in hundreds of billions of dollars from other countries... I would tax China because they're manipulating their currency; they are taking all of our jobs. China is an absolute abuser of the United States, they have no respect for our leadership... You know, China made almost $300 billion so-called profit on us last year; $300 billion. Now I love free trade, but that's not free trade...'"
If Trump were a serious candidate, it might be worthwhile to point out that:
a.) We're not the highest-taxed country in the world. In fact, out of the 33 developed nations tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 29 rank ahead of the U.S. when it comes to tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product.
b.) China did not make $300 billion in profit off the U.S. last year. The China-U.S. trade deficit in 2010 was $273 billion, but a trade imbalance in which one country buys more products from another than it sells to that country isn't the same thing as "profits."
c.) You can't actually tax China.
d.) You can raise tariffs on China, but that would be protectionism, which Trump says he doesn't like and which is more typically favored by Democrats than Republicans. It would also spark a trade war with the U.S. government's biggest banker, which is in a position to ravage our economy if it decides to sell off Treasury notes. And it would cause a sharp rise in consumer prices, sparking inflation.
Of course, there's no need to go there because Trump's candidacy is just Colbert-style satire. Isn't it?
-- Dan Turner
* Photo of The Donald, standing in front of a poster of The Donald, by Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images