WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump can fret over General Motors' plan to close plants, slash jobs and ditch models. He can even threaten, as he did Tuesday.
But market forces are tough to beat, even if you're president.
Trump captured the White House thanks in large part to the story he told — that he could reverse America's industrial decline. He promised to bring back manufacturing and fossil-fuel jobs written off as casualties of global trade and overregulation.
But almost halfway through Trump's first term, divergences from his "Make America Great Again" story line continue to pile up, pushed along by technology, globalization and a changing climate.
Trump is fighting back. On Tuesday, the day after GM's announcement, he tweeted threats to cut all the subsidies GM receives, including tax breaks for electric vehicles. Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, also piled on. "There's great disappointment that it seems like GM would rather build its electric cars in China rather than the United States," Kudlow told reporters at a briefing just before Trump's tweets.
It's unclear whether Trump has authority to revoke subsidies without action by Congress. It's also difficult, if not impossible, for Trump to overcome the dynamics that are driving companies to choose robots over humans, discontinue brands and close plants. Some are choosing to build nearer to their consumers and supply chains, including in China, while others are moving production lines to lower-cost countries, such as Mexico.