Like a circus trickster wielding a bag of nonsensical implements, President Donald Trump rushed back to tariffs this weekend, asserting that the import taxes on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods would be more than doubling this coming week. He claimed that these spikes would not only not harm American consumers but reap benefits for the U.S. economy, but he’s completely off-point, as data from the conservative-leaning Wall Street Journal makes clear. In short, Trump keeps ignoring basic economics in making his arguments about the wonders of tariffs, and Americans are paying the price — literally. Higher costs to bring products to the United States means higher costs for Americans.
Trump tweeted Sunday, continuing his tradition of conducting major global policy via petulant Twitter outbursts:
‘For 10 months, China has been paying Tariffs to the USA of 25% on 50 Billion Dollars of High Tech, and 10% on 200 Billion Dollars of other goods. These payments are partially responsible for our great economic results. The 10% will go up to 25% on Friday… The Tariffs paid to the USA have had little impact on product cost, mostly borne by China.’
That is, quite simply, a lie. In late April, as one example of this that’s just too easy, the Journal shared that researchers including Federal Reserve economist Aaron Flaaen had discovered that Trump’s tariffs on imported washing machines alone had cost Americans what works out to about $1.5 billion a year. Washing machine prices have gone up about 12% in the wake of the tariffs, sparking these increased overall costs — and there were even effects on related products the tariffs didn’t target, like dryers, whose prices went up by around the same amount as washers. This is all on just two products! The Trump administration’s overall tariffs are wide-ranging — that $200 billion worth of goods isn’t just washing machines.
They’re still keeping their tariffs going strong. Besides Trump’s announcement this weekend of an incoming increase in tariffs on already taxed products, he shared that his administration was preparing to slap 25% import taxes on about $325 billion worth of imported Chinese goods that hadn’t been targeted yet at all under the scheme. There are other tariffs on other fronts too, like recently announced preparations for the import taxes to be slapped on about $11 billion worth of imported goods from the European Union and the already in-place globe-spanning tariffs targeting steel and aluminum imports.
The economic antagonism is meant in theory to pressure U.S. trading partners into deals that the Trump administration finds more conducive to their vision for the American economy. For months, there had been a “cease fire” of sorts in the back and forth involving the U.S. and China, but that is now apparently drawing to an end in the absence of a trade deal the period was meant to facilitate, no matter the negative effect that has on U.S. consumers and businesses.
On another front, the Trump administration is pushing for the adoption of its new version of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, but there’s been little movement on that in the bitterly divided Congress.
Featured Image via screenshot