Crony Protectionism: Tariffs Are A Tax To Benefit Special Interests

RALEIGH – As much conservative accolades as President Donald Trump has received, they do nothing to shield the president from criticism of his plans to institute tariffs on steel and aluminum. While advocates of the tariff policies proclaim they are protecting jobs and reinforcing American industries, studies show that they do neither.

Further, logic holds that such a restrictive tax on imported products is essentially a limitation of individual freedom that leads to higher prices and rarely, if ever, achieves the intended consequence, yet spins off plenty of unintended ones.

To be sure, none of the points made by Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross actually hold true when examining the facts on the ground. The U.S. steel industry is actually doing pretty well; China accounts for a minimal percentage of imports in these categories; and hundreds of trade duties already exist to enforce reciprocity.

Ray Nothstine of the Civitas Institute sums up the discussion well, and provides a good list of literature to educate oneself on the issue of tariffs:

“Brian Balfour accurately called President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum “crony protectionism.” It’s a good tag.

In my mind, Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson” is a great resource on the consequences of tariffs. “It is useless to deny that a tariff does benefit—or at least can benefit—special interests. True, it benefits them at the expense of everyone else,” writes Hazlitt. If there is one thing definitely not needed in North Carolina and this nation, it’s more cronyism.

When thinking about policy, it’s always best to start with people. And tariffs operate just like a tax, placing an inordinate amount of the burden on citizens who are struggling to make ends meet, driving up prices, damaging wages and affordability. My inclination is that Trump’s proposed 25 percent steel tariff and 10 percent aluminum tariff will be scaled back from the percentages currently being proposed. The fourth story listed below highlights Rep. Mark Meadows effort to do just that.”

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Follow this link to peruse the reading list on tariffs.


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