Biden, Democrats Are Locking in Trump’s Tariffs
The Trump administration was able to reshape America’s trade policy in large part because it simply decided to ignore anything that punctured its manufactured reality about how tariffs work.
Economic data show that American businesses and consumers—not China—are overwhelmingly paying the cost of the tariffs? Send Peter Navarro out to do some television hits where he baselessly claims otherwise.
Thousands of American companies are lining up at hearings to explain why the tariffs would hurt their bottom line? Give Wilbur Ross a can of tomato soup and let him explain that those added costs are actually no big deal.
Farmers are getting gutted by the trade war? Send them fat checks, deny that your policies were to blame, and inadvertently create a new, expensive aid program that will be politically difficult to unwind.
Those clowns are no longer running the show, but the Biden administration seems determined to keep the circus going a while longer. Take, for example, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo doing her best Navarro impression during an interview earlier this month with MSNBC. Asked about whether the Biden administration would roll back the Trump tariffs on steel, aluminum, and other goods from China, Raimondo argued that “the data shows that those tariffs have been effective.”
Have they? Raimondo was careful to avoid saying exactly what the tariffs have been “effective” at accomplishing, but the actual data would suggest the answer is not much—except, of course, raising prices for American businesses and consumers.
On that front, the tariffs are quite effective. According to the American Action Forum, a free market think tank, Trump’s tariffs (and retaliatory tariffs imposed by other countries) have increased annual American consumer costs by about $57 billion. The Tax Foundation estimates that Trump’s tariffs amount to an $80 billion tax increase on U.S. businesses. And researchers from Columbia University, Princeton University, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York concluded that the tariff costs “have been passed on entirely to U.S. importers and consumers.” More than three years after Trump launched his trade war, these facts are no longer in doubt.
The fundamental problem is the same one that Trump, Navarro, Ross, and others spent the past few years trying to hand-wave away: Tariffs simply create more losers than winners. The U.S. steel industry, for example, employs about 141,000 workers. But there ar
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