But the sweeping pro-cyclical tax cuts we see now are a different story. It is not just bad economics. Sadly, the whole thing looks like a prelude to a financial crisis and an economic downturn that could relegate America to long, long years of economic stagnation and serious security challenges.
I hope I am dead wrong.
Meanwhile, we are piling on net foreign liabilities — $7.93 trillion at the latest count — failing to even out the playing field for American companies in the key world markets and tolerating trade imbalances that are killing our exporters and import-competing industries.
That's not what Trump promised. Remember, he pledged to fight for lower trade deficits and a more liberal access to foreign markets by American exporters. That would have been a better and a more sustainable economic stimulus than the destabilizing and deficit-financed tax cuts the U.S. can't afford. But that's not what we are seeing.
Start with Germany. The German trade and industry association just raised the GDP growth forecast for this year to 2.3 percent, from 1.8 percent estimated last October — on the strength of German export sales. The country is run by a caretaker government desperately looking for coalition partners in exploratory talks, where there have never been any publicly available reports of discussions concerning Germany's excessive, literally beggar-thy-neighbor, trade surpluses.
What is Washington saying to that? Nothing.
With China, the U.S. is trading "help" in dealing with North Korea for a more lenient treatment of Beijing's $350 to $400 billion surpluses on American trades.
The Chinese must be laughing their heads off. They are telling Washington that the solution to the region's crisis is for the U.S. to get out of the Korean Peninsula. Or, less radically for starters, to stop massive military mock invasions of North Korea to bring Kim Jong Un's regime to the negotiating table. Ultimately, the outcome of those talks must be some kind of U.S. withdrawal to make way for the Korean rapprochement and eventual unification.
Beijing is telling Washington the same thing about maritime border disputes in the South China Sea and broader policy issues in the rest of Asia: Countries outside the region (meaning the U.S.) should stay out of Asian affairs.
And here is what we heard this past week. The State Department spokesperson said last Friday that "we have a strong relationship with China." At the same time, Beijing is railing against Washington's dumping suits, holding up of approvals for China's investments in the U.S., and America's opposition to China's market economy status — an all-important trade issue for Beijing.
Does that really look like a "strong relationship?"
The U.S. must focus on reducing excessive trade deficits with China, Japan and Germany within the regulatory framework of the World Trade Organization. Friendly relations can help, but trade balances are not nickels and dimes issues. Security problems are entirely different and separate matters.