What the president seemingly fails to understand, of course, is that tariffs are not taxes, and Trump’s attempt to protect American industries in this manner is much more likely to harm American consumers than anything else.
Trump reportedly made his tariff proposal public without first alerting his advisers at the Treasury, State, or Defense Departments. His chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, adamantly opposes tariff increases and trade wars, complicating things even further.
So Trump is relying, it appears, mainly on his own knowledge to make major shifts in his administration’s economic and infrastructure policies, despite the fact that his understanding of the subject is relatively thin. When Trump talks about the economy, for instance, he touts stock market gains but neglects to mention slower-than-normal job growth, corporations spending very little on bonuses, and stagnant wages, among other problems.
Trump has made plenty of other comments in the past to buff up his own credentials — all of which sound more than a bit awkward now, given his hasty announcement on Friday.
1. He’s a financial genius
“I agree [that I am a financial genius],” Trump tweeted in November 2014, quoting one of his Twitter followers.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2014
2. He will be the greatest jobs president ever
“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created,” Trump said, announcing his bid for the presidency in June 2015.
3. He knows jobs better than anyone
“I hope all [union] workers demand that their @Teamsters reps endorse Donald J. Trump,” he tweeted in January 2016, at the height of the Republican primary. “Nobody knows jobs like I do! Don’t let them sell you out!”
I hope all workers demand that their @Teamsters reps endorse Donald J. Trump. Nobody knows jobs like I do! Don’t let them sell you out!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2016
4. He understands money better than anyone
“I understand money better than anybody. I understand it far better than Hillary, and I’m way up on the economy when it comes to questions on the economy,” he said during an interview with Today.
5. He knows more about trade than anyone
“Nobody knows more about trade than me,” Trump claimed at a campaign rally in March 2016.
6. He’s the only one who can bring jobs back
“I will bring our jobs back to the U.S., and keep our companies from leaving,” Trump tweeted in 2016. “Nobody else can do it.”
I will bring our jobs back to the U.S., and keep our companies from leaving. Nobody else can do it. Our economy will "sing" again.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2016
7. He knows banking better than anyone
“Nobody knows banking better than I do,” Trump claimed during a live town hall event with Today in April 2016.
8. He knows Wall Street bankers better than anyone
During that same town hall event, host Matt Lauer said, “You’re a guy who said you know the Wall Street bankers better than anyone.”
Trump agreed. “Better than anyone,” he said.
9. He can’t be beaten on the economy (and jobs)
“The economy is bad and getting worse-almost ZERO growth this quarter. Nobody can beat me on the economy (and jobs). MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” Trump tweeted that same month.
The economy is bad and getting worse-almost ZERO growth this quarter. Nobody can beat me on the economy (and jobs). MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2016
10. He knows taxes and income better than anyone
In a May 2016 interview, Trump claimed, “I think nobody knows more about taxes than I do and income than I do.”
11. He knows more about taxes than anyone in history
Knowing more about taxes in general simply wasn’t enough for Trump. “I think nobody knows more about taxes than I do, maybe in the history of the world,” he said that same month. “Nobody knows more about taxes.”
12. He knows the most about debt
Trump was touting his flimsy credentials as far back as 2006, when he gave an interview to televangelist Paul White and said, “Nobody knows more about debt. I’m like the king. I love debt.”
13. He understands money better than anyone
“I understand money better than anybody,” he claimed in June 2016. “I understand it far better than Hillary, and I’m way up on the economy when it comes to questions on the economy.”
14. He knows infrastructure better than anyone in American history
“Nobody in the history of this country has ever known so much about infrastructure as Donald Trump,” Trump claimed in July 2016, announcing former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate.
15. He knows tax laws better than any presidential candidate in history
“I know our complex tax laws better than anyone who has every run for president and am the only one who can fix them,” he tweeted in October 2016, shortly before the election.
I know our complex tax laws better than anyone who has ever run for president and am the only one who can fix them. #failing@nytimes
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2016
Even to Trump’s earliest supporters who thought he had some things to learn about national security, Trump was a trade expert. “Trade, Mr. Trump knows trade very well,” Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) said in 2016. Rudy Giuliani referred to Trump in October 2016 as “a man who has this kind of economic genius.”
During the primary campaign, Republican voters also trusted Trump the most on the economy, with a Reuters/Ipsos poll showing that 59 percent of Republicans trusted him to manage the economy over his Republican rivals.