Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Neil Bhatiya is filling in for Candace Rondeaux this week.
President Donald Trump this week laid out his most direct case yet for staying the course in the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election. In a speech to the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday, he boasted that his “America First” policies had delivered stronger-than-expected economic growth and new jobs for millions of Americans, despite the disruption caused not only by his trade war with China, but also by the tariffs he has imposed on close U.S. allies in Europe.
While most coverage of the speech focused on Trump claiming credit for leading an economic “boom,” it was more revealing in capturing how the president thinks about economic statecraft overall—and how he misconstrues it. Trump misunderstands American economic strength, the leverage it gives him over U.S. partners as well as adversaries, and what the best approach is when the United States feels the rules of the road are not in its favor.