Trump's threats against GM fit a pattern: More bark than bite
Los Angeles Times
By Noah Bierman
November 29, 2018
President Trump has been firing angry ultimatums at General Motors all week, threatening to cut subsidies to the automaker and recoup old bailout losses after GM announced it would close four U.S. plants and one in Canada to eliminate nearly 14,000 jobs.
As with other threats Trump has made as president, these may be little more than bark.
Administration officials and former business associates have said they are often unsure when Trump speaks whether he intends action or is simply venting. At times, warring factions use that ambiguity to push their own agenda inside the administration, either urging Trump to act or burying his directives and hoping he forgets.
The stock market has also taken notice of Trump’s lack of follow-through, discarding some of his tweeted threats while reacting strongly to others.
“You’ve got to chase these things down,” said David Tamasi, a lobbyist who is close to the administration. “To the specific constituencies that care about this stuff, you’ve got to dig deep.”
Tamasi said Trump was similar to other politicians in using rhetoric to advance his political agenda. The difference is that other politicians generally have a process to vet everything they say with internal policy experts, who produce talking points and explanations for the policy implications. Trump, by contrast, just puts it all out on Twitter, without preparation, context or nuance.
“We’ve all had to adjust to deciphering and discerning,” Tamasi said.
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