Stephen Colbert doesn’t think Trump is winning his China trade war, but he knows who’s losing

“Remember during the campaign in 2016 when the president said we’re going to win so much we’d get tired of winning?” Stephen Colbert reminisced on Monday’s Late Show. “Wall Street got there first.” The stock markets dropped sharply Monday in response to the breakdown of China-U.S. trade talks. Colbert explained that negotiations derailed last week after China wouldn’t commit to changing its laws and said it didn’t want the deal’s details released, just a summary. “Oh, really?” he said. “The White House is upset because China wants to release a summary?”

Colbert mocked Trump’s “love collecting BIG TARIFFS” tweet with an homage to Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.” “The president thinks he can outlast the Chinese because he sees tariffs as free money,” Colbert said. “But — and, spoiler — Trump is lying” that China pays for the tariffs, as Chris Wallace got White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow to admit, eventually, on Fox News Sunday. Colbert put Kudlow’s first gambit in perspective: “Yes, technically, one side pays the price, but both sides suffer. It’s a bold marketing strategy. It reminds me of the ad campaign: ‘Taco Bell: Everyone Will Suffer.'”

“Wallace continued to drag Kudlow kicking and screaming into reality,” but Kudlow put up a struggle, asking if they could use “trade negotiation” instead of “trade war.” No, Colbert answered. “I know why you want to change it, because it makes it seem less dangerous. There’s a reason no one went to see Avengers: Infinity Negotiation.”

China retaliated Monday by raising tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods, mostly hurting U.S. farmers. Meanwhile, Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods will raise prices for U.S. consumers on items such as dog callers, apparel made from reptile leather, mattress supports, and Christmas lights. “That’s really going to hurt the holiday-themed sex dungeon industry,” Colbert joked, with visual mockup. “And you know, thanks to Trump, we were finally moaning Merry Christmas again.”

Read more: