Donald Trump’s crazy game of poker

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with former hostage Danny Burch and his family in the Oval Office at the White House
He's risking his biggest election asset for a long-term legacy

We knew President Donald Trump was pretty much the antithesis of a politician when he first ran for office — he was quite proud of it, actually.

But his proposed tariffs/taxes on imported Mexican goods, designed to force the country’s hand on immigration policy, may be the most anti-politician policy ever imagined: Trump is risking his single-biggest asset (the economy) during a re-election campaign for something (immigration reform) he hopes will be a long-standing legacy.

Typically, politicians do the opposite: they sacrifice the future for short-term, instant gratification ahead of an election.

Raising taxes ahead of an election is also typically a terrible idea — just ask George H.W. Bush‘s advisers what that will do to your campaign.

Just don’t ask those close to Trump. Because, despite advisers’ near-universal opposition to the Mexican tariffs, it appears the president will forge ahead with the plan anyway, beginning Monday.

He’s playing a crazy game of poker.

It’s unclear how long the 5 percent tax on everything imported from Mexico (and it’s a lot) would take to shake the American economy.   Consumers may not notice it at first, any more than they noticed the small savings in each paycheck from last year’s tax changes. But to a business, a 5 percent (and escalating) increase in the cost of certain goods is a big deal.

Trump has been outspoken about his goals for this high-stakes poker game, suggesting the U.S. will enjoy great long-term social and economic benefits if Mexico can slow the flow of undocumented immigrants.

It’s worth pointing out his “toughen up, Mexico” mantra wouldn’t seem to address the huge number of immigrants fleeing dangerous countries and seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, nor would it address the thousands of immigrants here illegally who entered through other ports of entry.

But to Trump, who hasn’t been able to make much progress on his promised wall, having something to show at the Mexican border ahead of 2020 is a big enough necessity that he’ll fold a possible winning hand in favor of new cards that not even his biggest supporters are confident will pay off.

Noah Pransky

Noah Pransky is a multiple award-winning investigative reporter, most recently with the CBS affiliate in Tampa. He’s uncovered major stories such as uncovering backroom deals in the Tampa Bay Rays stadium and other political investigations. Pransky also ran a blog called Shadow of the Stadium, giving readers a deep dive into the details of potential financial deals and other happenings involving the Tampa Bay- area sports business.


  • David E Bruderly

    June 3, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    As usual Trump goes for a headline with a solution that fails to solve the fundamental problem. Mexico is NOT the source of migrants flooding our southern border. Trump should focus on helping Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador eliminate the.lawlessness, crime and violence forcing people to flee for the safety of the United States.

    • DumpTump

      June 4, 2019 at 11:21 am

      Trump is incapable of “focusing” on anything but himself. He’s a pathological narcissist. A stereotypical case study for all Psych 1a students.

    • gary

      June 4, 2019 at 1:02 pm

      Why? Why is it that America needs to help? We use out assets all over the world. When do we focus on making out country healthy again? We don’t need to entangle ourselves in these countries problems.

  • VoteDem2020

    June 4, 2019 at 11:04 am

    Personally and professionally, the Draft-Dodger-In-Chief is an unmitigated jerk … so, why would anyone expect anything else besides “crazy”. The Republican party OWNS this fiasco!

  • gary

    June 4, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Brilliant move by Trump! The Mex leaders are already panicking and requesting a meeting with Trump to fix the problem!

    Absolutely love my president! #MAGA2020

Comments are closed.


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