Today, the Republican president of the United States made the kind of economically illiterate argument that Republicans have been mocking for longer than I’ve been alive:

Trump was referring here to his mutually threatened trade war with China, which minutes before this tweet he had insisted “We are not in,” because “that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S.” You can’t fight a war you’ve already lost, and so that’s why we must fight, amirite?! (Also, the U.S. trade deficit with China isn’t close to $500 billion; the president is once again pulling scary-sounding trade stats out of his arse.)

Conservatives used to know damn well that trade deficits don’t matter, budget deficits do; not vice-versa. Here’s Uncle Milton Friedman making the succinct case about that, and against steel tariffs, 40 years ago. But now that a populist protectionist has taken over the GOP and the White House, that new song is getting sung right out loud: