My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy appeared on Fox Business last night to get to the bottom of Trump’s threat to pull subsidies from G.M. if G.M. goes ahead with its plans to shut down some of its U.S. factories. (Liz MacDonald at one point in her discussion with Vero suggested that Trump’s motivation is to get rid of all U.S.-government subsidies to business. But this suggestion clearly is mistaken given that Trump will keep the G.M. subsidies in place if G.M. does Trump’s bidding.)
To be sure, I can see why the president is so upset. Because he has made the revival of American manufacturing the centerpiece of his campaign and presidency, a weird goal considering the incredibly high manufacturing output that the U.S. has experienced in recent years, every American company that doesn’t go with the plan is chastised publicly, sometimes even threatened. Remember Harley Davidson, which the president threatened with a boycott from its consumers? On Monday, the president told GM that it “better get back in” Ohio “soon,” and that “They better put something else in” the Lordstown, Ohio, plant that is now slated to be closed.
Is this what it has come to that the president is meddling with the productive assets of a private company? And don’t get me started on the president’s threat to cut all GM subsidies. I oppose all forms of subsidies to the private sector but I am also appalled by the use of subsidies as a way for the president to get companies to do what he thinks that they should be doing.