WASHINGTON — With all President Donald Trump has on his plate this week — staff shakeups, the Russia probes and Jared Kushner; health care, budget, debt ceiling and the Paris climate deal —– on Tuesday morning he decided to escalate his attack on Germany over trade.
Trump increasingly is viewing his foreign policy through the lenses of trade rather than taking a multidimensional approach. Just consider: Trump in the past days has been tougher on strong NATO allies than on Russia.
The volley against Germany came in one of three early Tuesday Twitter posts:
We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military. Very bad for U.S. This will change— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2017
What will Trump do to make good on his threat against Germany? Create a trade war? Will this put pressure on German automakers who manufacture cars in the U.S.?
And FYI, the other two posts that followed . . .
Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2017
And . . .
The U.S. Senate should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved, fast and easy. Dems would do it, no doubt!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2017
Trump returned to Washington over the weekend after his first international swing, creating in the wake tensions with Europe.
How bad is it?
Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday — at a campaign event, she’s up for re-election — that Germany, the European Union and the United States no longer enjoy close ties.
“The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over,” she told a rally in Munich.
Last week, in a much warmer exchange, Merkel shared the stage with former President Barack Obama at a forum co-sponsored by the Obama Foundation in Berlin.
To get smart fast:
After Trump’s Twitter hit on Germany, the Washington Post noted in a “Here’s what you need to know” article, “This follows on Trump’s reported statement in a closed-door session with European officials a week ago that German trade policy was “bad, very bad.”
Some facts on the U.S.-Germany trade relationship from CNN:
“Trump is right — in 2016 the U.S. trade gap with Germany was $67.8 billion, the second largest in the world. America’s trade deficit with China, at $310 billion, was the only one larger.
“But Germany also bought $80.4 billion worth of American goods and services last year, more than was purchased by any other European country other than the United Kingdom.”
For more from the business perspective . . .
The Business Insider on Germany and Trump is HERE.
CNBC is HERE.