January 19, 2019

Trump Needs to Listen to Suffering Businesses

“President Trump, in an impomptu press conference of sorts before boarding Marine One, took questions on a range of issues. Naturally, the ever-escalating trade dispute between the U.S. and China came up. The President began his answer by saying that the U.S. now has “billions [of dollars] coming in in the forms of tariffs or taxes.”

Alas, a cogent point on trade from Donald Trump. Tariffs are, indeed, taxes on both American businesses and American consumers. However, this truth must have been lost on him, and that analysis may have been an unintentional moment of clarity. In the next breath, Trump said he believed the Chinese wanted to cut a deal, but that he was very happy with the current arrangement. Just hours before, he also claimed the tariffs being charged to China were going to make the U.S. “richer than ever before.”

At the very least, this should relieve anyone of the notion that the trade escalation with China is merely a game of four-dimensional chess the President is playing in order to negotiate down to zero trade barriers. Just this summer, Trump tweeted that “our country was built on tariffs.” Before approaching any analysis of the Trump administration’s trade policy, it is important to recognize that the President is nothing but an unrepentant protectionist. The hopes that he may have been a closet free trader have been greatly exaggerated.

There is a reason Trump, in both interviews and on social media, is stepping up his rhetoric on his protectionism. It is because it is simply not working, and he is desperately trying to convince people to pay no attention to the devastating results his administration’s trade policies are already causing.”

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