President Trump in a pensive pose. White House photo

President Trump constantly amazes.

I mean that in the classical definition of the word, as in causing astonishment or surprise. The tariffs on Mexican products announced Thursday are a case in point.

With intellectual support from real estate economist and one-time San Diego mayoral candidate Peter Navarro, the President plans to impose a 5% tariff on all goods imported from Mexico and ratchet that up monthly to as high as 25% to try to cut off the flow of migrants.

The majority of products we import from Mexico are actually made by American companies. So American consumers will be paying taxes on American products to force Mexico to stop Central American migrants from seeking asylum. In other words, “Hey, Mexico, stop letting migrants through your country or we’ll tax Americans.”

Trump, of course, believes it is actually foreign governments that pay tariffs. He went to the prestigious Wharton School, but must have skipped the classes on international economics. Tariffs in fact are paid by American importers and passed on to American consumers.

So how will this amazing idea play out? The tariffs will cause prices to rise on everything from tomatoes to Dodge Ram pickups to blood stents. As Americans buy fewer of these products, business conditions will worsen in Mexico.

The renegotiated NAFTA deal will likely not be approved by Congress, possibly leading our amazing President to end free trade in North America altogether.

To the extent workers are laid off in Mexico, it will increase the pressure for migration to the United States. An angry Mexico may end security arrangements with the United States, encouraging crime on the border.

Over time, Mexico will turn to Chinese and Western European companies to build factories and invest in local businesses. American companies will lose market share and lay off workers.

Regional economies in San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso and San Antonio will suffer as cross-border trade declines and more migrants arrive.

“This is actually a brilliant move by the President to get Mexico’s attention, to get them to help us, because so far they have just been standing by,” Navarro told CNBC.

That, too, is amazing.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.