Despite reality, Trump says China could pay for economic aid package

Trump apparently thinks China will cover the costs of an economic aid package. That's not how any of this works.
Image: Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, CHINA-US-DIPLOMACY
China's President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 9, 2017.Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images file

Donald Trump has a weird habit of telling voters that foreign countries will pay for his domestic priorities. Just this week, for example, the president brazenly lied about having Mexico pay for a border wall.

Yesterday, however, Trump came up with a new one. As the Washington Post reported, the Republican appeared on Fox Business and when the discussion turned to a possible economic aid package, the president suggested China would cover the costs of the proposal.

"We're going to take it from China. I'll tell you right now: It's coming out of China." ... Asked how he would get China to pay for the stimulus package, Trump asserted: "Well, there's lots of ways. Okay? There's a lot of ways. And I'll figure all of them out."

Oh, good. He'll "figure all of them out." How reassuring.

What's weird isn't just Trump's apparent belief that Beijing will pick up the tab for a multi-trillion-dollar aid package, but also the frequency with which the president talks this way.

It was two years ago this month, for example, when Trump said at a rally that he intended to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions by getting "a little more money from China." That didn't make any sense at all, but the president said it anyway.

Last year, he added that China was also paying for White House farming bailouts, which also wasn't true.

To be sure, part of this pattern stems from Trump's confusion over how trade tariffs work, but it's also true that the president seems to have a weird reflex: China is seen as some sort of piggybank he can turn to as a source of revenue for all priorities.

That's not how any of this works in reality.