Europe Isn’t Playing the Trade War Game Right

Richard Sennott/Minneapolis Star Tribune/ZUMAPRESS

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Europe is making a list and checking it twice:

The European Union Friday made public a 10-page list of American products that are potential targets for retaliation if President Trump refuses to exempt the allied bloc from his new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The list offered the most detailed glimpse to date of the likely targets for E.U. action, including products selected for maximum political impact in the United States. Among them: Bourbon, a specialty of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky; cranberries which grow in House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s native Wisconsin; orange juice from Florida and tobacco from North Carolina, two political swing states that are rich in electoral votes.

I think the EU is being too clever by half. Do they seriously think that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are going to respond to tariffs that affect a tiny chunk of their electorate—especially when the EU has made it clear they they’re doing this deliberately to put pressure on them? I doubt it. And anyway, it’s Donald Trump they need to hurt, not legislators who are already mostly free traders.

If the EU wants to play this game, they need to play it the same way Trump does: big and simple. Just pick a large export category for the US—chemicals, maybe, or wood pulp or optical instruments—and slap a 20 percent tariff on it. Then make up some kind of transparently bogus justification and stick to it like glue. There’s really nothing else that will get Trump’s attention. You have to hit him over the head with the fact that (a) this is retaliation and (b) it won’t stop.

Keep it simple. Trump is not notable for his sense of nuance.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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