President Trump is pointing fingers on the economy.
The country's sustained boom, of course, has been one of his major selling points, with jobless numbers not seen in decades and a stock market that soared until the recent downturn.
But some recent bursts of bad news have Trump slamming both General Motors and his hand-picked Fed chairman.
It's not hard to grasp why the president is hitting the giant automaker after its announcement that it would cut 15,000 jobs and close plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland (but not Mexico and China). He's obviously trying to pressure the company.
But I'm surprised there's not more of a backlash against this tweet:
"The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get! We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including for electric cars."
How can the president talk about retaliating against one particular company because he doesn't like its policies? Federal subsidies usually go to whole industries, not particular corporations. GM would have a pretty good lawsuit if it was singled out for punishment.
And if Barack Obama, who engineered the 2009 federal bailout of GM, had made such a comment, the right would have exploded. There would have been an uproar about picking winners and losers.
As a career businessman, Trump should understand that CEO Mary Barra has to do what's in the best interests of her company and her shareholders. She's making these moves because many of her cars aren't selling well. (Know anyone who has a Chevy Cruze?)
In fact, like other American carmakers, GM is all but getting out of the business of making passenger sedans, which is dominated by the Japanese, in favor of SUVs, trucks and electric and hybrid cars.
As the Wall Street Journal's conservative editorial page put it yesterday, "President Trump believes he can command markets like King Canute thought he could the tides. But General Motors has again exposed the inability of any politician to arrest the changes in technology and consumer tastes roiling the auto industry."
This isn't the first time Trump has scolded corporations; he questioned Amazon postal subsidies (Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post) but hasn't done anything about it.
The only subsidies involving GM actually go to consumers who get a $7,500 tax credit for buying battery-powered or hybrid cars (much of this has gone to Tesla buyers). But the credit is greatly reduced after a company’s first 200,000 vehicles, and GM has already sold 190,000 such cars.
Meanwhile, Trump went after his Fed chairman, Jerome "Jay" Powell, in a Post interview.
"So far, I'm not even a little bit happy with my selection of Jay," the president said. "Not even a little bit. And I'm not blaming anybody, but I'm just telling you I think that the Fed is way off-base with what they're doing."
Actually, he is blaming someone. And while it's not unusual for presidents to be frustrated with the Federal Reserve for tapping on the brakes, Trump, of course, doesn't hold back — even when it's his guy.
"I'm doing deals, and I'm not being accommodated by the Fed. They're making a mistake because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else's brain can ever tell me."
Yes, we can't have Government by Gut. But Trump's gut did get him elected. It does not, however, have the power to reverse industry layoffs or force an independent agency not to hike interest rates.