- CNBC screenshot
In an interview with CNBC on Friday, the director of the Trump administration’s National Trade Council, Peter Navarro, had a “let them eat cake” moment.
After being questioned about a potential tax policy that would hit the retail industry hard, he called research critical of the policy “fake news.”
The policy is called a border adjustment, and it basically would tax companies that export goods to the US. Of course, some of those companies are retailers that get clothes that are made outside the country.
Retailers are worried about it. In a release published this month opposing the border tax, the National Retail Federation cited a talk by William Dudley, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York president, who said: “I think that it probably would lead to a lot of changes in the value of the dollar, the prices of imported goods in the US, and I’m not sure that that would all happen very smoothly. I also think there could be lots of unintended consequences.”
CNBC’s Melissa Lee pointed to a Citigroup estimate that said this new tax would be a massive hit to company earnings. That means people working in retail would likely lose their jobs as companies try to cut costs.
Navarro immediately got defensive.
“Well, first of all, this is a false narrative and a fake study,” he countered.
Lee was a bit surprised. “Let me get this right,” she said, “Citigroup did a fake study?”
“Citigroup has no credibility,” Navarro said. He called the bank’s analysis, and analysis from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, “garbage studies and scare tactics” and compared them to media outlets like MSNBC and CNN.
“We are not backing off,” he said.
Lee pointed out that Citigroup isn’t the media – it’s research written for investors looking to find out if companies are healthy. Navarro ignored that point.
“Yeah, well, the Dow just hit 20,000, how you like them apples?” he said. “There are winners and losers.”
Winners, we are assuming, are the people who get to keep their jobs. Losers are everyone else.
The internet wasted no time in expressing dismay at the interview – CNBC’s own journalists included.
— Chris Rugaber (@ChrisRugaber) January 27, 2017
Yeah, I cringed while watching. Remember when people answered questions without being combative and rude? Navarro is a disaster.
— Steffi (@steffimaggs) January 27, 2017