Many of Donald Trump’s voters elected him president hoping he would cut their taxes. Unfortunately, President Trump has a very different plan. He wants to effectively raise taxes on all Americans in order to benefit politically connected industries, and he’s angry at his advisors, because they’re making that sweeping tax hike more difficult.
Last weekend, Axios spotlighted a conversation in which President Trump lashed out at his trade advisors because they had yet to produce tariffs against China.
The meeting was supposed to be about about the administration’s proposed investigation of China stealing American technology and intellectual property, which was ordered after Trump signed a memo drafted by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
But there was no doubt after the meeting what Trump really wanted. Here’s what Axios says Trump told White House Chief of Staff John Kelly:
“John, let me tell you why they didn’t bring me any tariffs,” he said. “I know there are some people in the room right now that are upset. I know there are some globalists in the room right now. And they don’t want them, John. They don’t want the tariffs. But I’m telling you, I want tariffs.”
So far this year, the U.S. has imported $229 billion worth of goods from China and exported $59 billion worth of goods and services to them.
Tariffs are, of course, taxes placed on imported goods, in this case the hundreds of billions of dollars worth that come from the Chinese. Trump’s desired tariffs would pass on that burden to consumers, effectively imposing new taxes on goods that Americans buy every day in order to benefit politically connected industries. Poor Americans would be hit the hardest, as they would watch their disposable income shrink thanks to higher prices at the store.
Tariffs would also likely bring retaliation from China. The Chinese would either impose tariffs on American exports or possibly even stop importing some American goods. This would have disastrous consequences for American manufacturers and farmers, who could be shut out of the world’s second-largest economy. Many of those farmers and workers voted for Trump last year.
A trade war with China would also increase the chances of an actual war with China. One of the reasons the United States and China have sought to remain peaceful is the deep business ties between the two nations. If those ties are severed, both countries would have less to lose from a military conflict. As the old saying — often attributed to economist Frédéric Batiat — goes, when goods don’t cross borders, armies will.
A trade war with China would be devastating for the United States. It would decrease the quality of life for Americans, and it would make the nation poorer and less safe. Yet Donald Trump is hell-bent on starting one. For the good of the country, he must be stopped.