President Donald Trump consistently refuses to acknowledge even a hint of a possibility of error in his ways. This week, he has dug in deep with his harshly antagonistic economic policy, having just upped the tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of imported Chinese goods. He defended the move with a massive helping of lies while sitting next to the far right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the White House.
As he put it:
‘We’re taking in right now hundreds of billions of dollars. We’re taking in billions of dollars in tariffs, and those tariffs are going to be tremendously — if you look at what we’ve done thus far with China, we’ve never taken in ten cents until I got elected. Now we’re taking in billions and billions.’
Trump refuses to stop lying about tariffs, falsely claims the US is taking in “billions and billions from China” pic.twitter.com/Cl0iCehILJ
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 13, 2019
So now Trump is taking credit for inventing tariffs? Great. It goes mostly without saying that the notion that tariffs are some kind of new invention is false, although Trump passionately claimed at the White House that “we’ve never done that before with China, we’ve never done that before with anybody,” referring that time to the volume of tariffs that have been collected — and again being pretty far off-base. Average U.S. tariffs from about the 1860s to the 1940s were mostly well above 30 percent, occasionally approaching 50 and even 60 percent during periods like the time immediately preceding the Great Depression.
Trump proving completely inept with basic American history isn’t the only issue here, though. He is also completely misrepresenting the source of the tariff income — in short, it’s coming from American companies, who are the ones bringing the goods he’s slapped massive import taxes on into the United States, or trying to at least. The tariffs are also being translated into higher prices for consumers across a whole wide range of goods; some targeted ones like washing machines have gone up an outlandish 12 percent or so, and that’s just one example. That doesn’t even cover some of the costs of the tariffs that show up further down the line when targeted nations impose retaliatory taxes, dooming American farmers and other industry interests to losing massive amounts of business.
The situation is continuing to escalate. As Trump discussed at the White House this week, the tariff rate covering some $200 billion worth of Chinese goods is now at 25 percent, and the administration is holding out the threat of spiking tariffs even further to the point of covering every last import from China, of which there remain about $300 billion worth. Meanwhile, China has unveiled their response to the latest barrage, preparing their own 25 percent import tax on some $60 billion worth of American products, set to go into effect June 1. The back and forth has led the stock market to its worst day in four months this Monday.
Talks between the two countries have been ongoing for months on end, but they blew past tentative deadlines for a deal paving the path forward. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to meet in person at the upcoming G20 summit of leading global economic powers in June in Japan.
Featured Image via screenshot