Donald Trump has attacked plenty of American companies directly since he became president, but it’s weird to hear him publicly beg a company to do what he wants. Take his comments in Wisconsin yesterday:
“By the way, Harley-Davidson, please build those beautiful motorcycles in the USA, please. Okay? Don’t get cute with us. Don’t get cute. They don’t realize their taxes are coming way down. They don’t realize that yet. Spent a lot of time with them. Build them in the USA. Your customers won’t be happy if you don’t. I’ll tell you that.”
It was striking to witness the president suggest that the company doesn’t know its own finances – and that;s why its executives ought to just listen to Donald Trump.
Harley-Davidson’s corporate influence on politics has never been that big, which made it even weirder to watch the incompetent White House go to great lengths to put Harley-Davidson in the spotlight. Literally every single day this week Trump has criticized Harley-Davidson in a public display – and on Tuesday, there was an overt threat.
Let’s talk about why…
New York Times reporter Paul Krugman wrote a good article on this, explaining that Harley-Davidson, which announced its plans to move some of its manufacturing abroad to cope with Trump’s terrible tariffs, is “one of the companies feeling an immediate squeeze.”
It’s paying more for its raw materials even as it faces the prospect of tariffs on the cycles it exports. Given that squeeze, it’s perfectly natural for the company to move some of its production overseas, to locations where steel is still cheap and sales to Europe won’t face tariffs.
So Harley’s move is exactly what you’d expect to see given Trump policies and the foreign response.
But while it’s what you’d expect to see, and what I’d expect to see, it’s apparently not what Trump expected to see. His view seems to be that since he schmoozed with the company’s executives and gave its stockholders a big tax cut, Harley owes him personal fealty and shouldn’t respond to the incentives his policies have created.
Note that Trump said this week that he’s “been very good to” Harley-Davidson – how, though, he did not mention – as if the company owed him. “I’ve done so much for you,” Trump stupidly tweeted on Wednesday to the company.
So according to stupid whiny Trump, Harley-Davidson should ignore the health of its business operations and worry instead about Trump’s feelings.
As many other companies start to feel pressure from the administration’s insane trade agenda, Trump should prepare more companies to put their business interests before his immature personal wishes.