Speed Reads

Trade Wars

Some top Democrats predicted Trump would back off his Mexico tariff threat

The tariff-averting agreement the U.S. and Mexico announced on Friday night doesn't appear to have many new elements or enforcement mechanisms, but it was a win-win in that both President Trump and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador are declaring victory.

At the same time, Trump tweeted several aggrieved defenses of the deal before heading to his golf course in Virginia on Sunday, and members of his administration insisted on Sunday talk shows that Mexico agreed to new immigration measures in the deal and that Trump's tariff threats, which frayed ties with congressional Republicans, forced Mexico to hasten or commit to things it had been reluctant to put to paper.

The 5 percent tax on Mexican imports, rising incrementally to 25 percent, would have been economically painful for U.S. consumers, especially in key states that voted for Trump, notably Texas. So not everyone was convinced Trump would actually follow through with his threat.

And Schumer did predict Trump would balk, on the Senate floor on June 4 — there's video. On Sunday, Schumer reiterated his belief that Trump's "bogus 'deal' Mexico volunteered to do months ago" follows his "bogus tariff threat even GOP in Congress rejected." And he wasn't the only Democrat who predicted Trump would find a way to declare victory. "Bet your bottom dollar, Trump will back off by the weekend," tweeted Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) on June 7, hours before the late-night deal was announced. "Just another bluff!"

It's worth noting that Mexico took Trump's threat seriously enough to send up a delegation soon after Trump threatened the new tariffs. And unlike Democrats, Mexican officials are being careful not to contradict Trump in public on the agreement. "They're just trying to say anything to come out of the mess," Ken Smith Ramos, a former top Mexican trade negotiator, tells Politico.