trump and Xi Jinping
Credit: The White House/flickr

Ever since Trump returned from the G20 meeting in Argentina, he’s been boasting about the significant agreement he reached with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Would it surprise you to learn that not much of that is true? Of course it wouldn’t.

Trump has agreed to delay increasing tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on nearly $200 billion in Chinese products. He had previously warned he would do so on January 1, 2019; instead, he will not make any changes for 90 days, in the hopes that a more lasting agreement can be reached, according to the White House statement.

In return, Xi agreed that China will buy more agriculture, energy, and other products from the US in an attempt to “reduce the trade imbalance,” the White House said. How much has not yet been determined.

The White House threatened that if, after 90 days, no progress had been made, it would go ahead with those 25 percent tariff increase on $200 billion in goods.

What this “great leap forward” (a bizarre phrase to use in relation to China) amounts to is that the president agreed to a 90-day delay in his threat to further escalate the trade war with China on an ambiguous promise from President Xi to buy more American goods.

As Richard Haas noted on Twitter, this is beginning to be a pattern.

We could add another one to that list. There was that time the president created a European trade crisis and then pretended to avert it with a fake deal.

Ed Kilgore summed the pattern up nicely by writing, “it’s like a mayor who digs a hole, fills it up, and then holds a gala ribbon-cutting for the completed ‘project.’” But let’s give credit where it’s due. Brendan Nyhan was the first one to nail the steps back in July.

  1. Present distorted version of status quo.
  2. Create crisis over distorted version of status quo.
  3. Restore status quo (often at substantial cost).
  4. Take credit for status quo.

So whether it’s North Korea, NAFTA, China, or the European Union, the status quo has been restored with a fake deal after all of the hype from the president about a crisis that he created. According to Trump, anyone who doesn’t give him credit for these major accomplishments is simply peddling fake news. Did I get that about right?

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.