Conservative Columnist Max Boot Demolishes Trump's Empty Boasting About the Fake 'NAFTA Renegotiation'
On Monday, President Donald Trump announced that he had — sort of — delivered on one of his core campaign promises: a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
But as he was taking a victory lap, conservative columnist Max Boot laid out why Trump's accomplishment was essentially meaningless, in a scathing editorial titled, "President Trump creates crises, then claims credit for solving them."
Trump has applied this same template to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which he spent years lambasting as “the worst trade deal ever approved.” According to Bob Woodward’s book “Fear: Trump in the White House,” Trump was on the verge of pulling out of NAFTA in April 2017, and had to be talked back from the brink by senior aides. He grudgingly remained in the deal while launching high-pressure negotiations to rework it.
Lo and behold, just ahead of a U.S.-imposed deadline on Sunday night, the United States, Mexico and Canada agreed on a revamped NAFTA. Trump triumphantly proclaimed on Twitter that this was a “wonderful new Trade Deal,” “historic,” and “a great deal for all three countries.” “NAFTA is dead,” said White House trade adviser Peter Navarro. Long live the new United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA).
Except ... not really. As Boot notes, the new trade agreement is essentially just NAFTA with a couple of tiny tweaks. Canada will now have to import slightly more U.S. dairy, foreign car companies will need to use a slightly higher percentage of American-made auto parts to be exempt from tariffs, and the countries will now use an updated intellectual property standard that was already in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) before Trump pulled the U.S. out of it last year.
All in all, not remotely worth the energy Trump spent provoking a trade war, alienating our allies, and jeopardizing the jobs of American workers.
But, as Boot says, this is a pattern for the president. "Trump is like a man who comes into a store and starts smashing everything in sight. Eventually he grows tired of the mayhem and proclaims he is being very nice to the shopkeeper by not continuing his reign of terror." He did the same thing, Boot notes, with North Korea, bringing the U.S. to the brink of nuclear war with his taunts of "Little Rocket Man" before holding a summit that achieved absolutely nothing — bringing our policy on the Korean Peninsula right back to where it was at the start.
And Trump brings this mindset to domestic policy as well. His abolition of DACA permits for young immigrants, and his subsequent, failed attempts to extract a border wall and cuts to legal immigration to restore them, represent the same mentality of manufacturing a disaster he can later boast about having fixed.
Trump's approach at best means America is jogging in place against all of the very real challenges our country needs to address, from income equality to the opioid crisis — and at worst, means our credibility as a nation is shattered.