About Donald Trump’s dust-up with Harley-Davidson: He raised tariffs, and the European Union retaliated by making U.S.-made motorcycles more expensive in Europe.
H-D was planning to shut down Kansas City production and move it to their state-of-the-art Pennsylvania plant before tariffs were raised because domestic demand won’t support both locations.
But this president, fearing the aftermath of his own blunders, interpreted the move as sending jobs overseas.
The truth is H-D has vowed that all motorcycles sold to Americans will be made in the U.S. But as to overseas sales, it would only cost them market share to produce the motorcycles here.
No company would sacrifice hard-earned sales when a more rational option was available, namely, producing overseas. (U.S. companies with existing overseas facilities can, and do, transfer production without drawing attention.)
But that logic is not easy for a real estate mogul to follow. Manufacturing for the international market is a much more difficult game than real estate development. So having Trump meddle in trade, unrestrained, is not likely to produce positive results, all the cries of “fake news” notwithstanding.
No, of all Trump’s bad decisions, his decision to start a trade war has been the most revealing. His core will believe whatever he says, but his strategy is now clear: Destroy the status quo and then claim its replacement is an improvement, even if it isn’t.
And why not? His core will believe anything, even to the point of attacking an iconic American company on its 115th anniversary.