WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday the Trump administration announced it would be slapping tariffs on goods from overseas in move that is definitely not a ‘winning’ one.
The specific targets are solar panels, with a 30 percent tariff, and large washing machines, with a 50 percent tariff, but the only ones to get hit with the price increases will be consumers.
Trump campaigned on an ‘America First’ platform that included lots of terrific policies, such as immigration enforcement and reforms, tax cuts, slashing regulations, a stronger posture on the world stage, and eschewing the political correctness that plagues Washington D.C..
The weakest point in this platform has always been the tendency to offer tariffs as a solution for trade imbalances and protect domestic manufacturing jobs.
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“My administration is committed to defending American companies, and they’ve been very badly hurt from harmful import surges that threaten the livelihood of their workers,” Trump said as he signed the tariffs. “The United States will not be taken advantage of anymore.”
America First policies are great, but protectionism and tariffs are not one of them.
Not for the reasons the Left is already bandying about, for instance that the tariffs hurt the solar industry and therefore the environment. That is environmentalist drivel.
Instead, tariffs only serve to ‘take advantage’ of consumers in the United States. Adding 50 percent to the price of a washing machine is hardly beneficial for the American families buying them.
Protectionism and the tariff tactics it often employs are wholly negative for consumers and antithetical to the idea of freedom that America was First established upon.
These tariffs phase out after three years, based on the idea that the insulating effect the tariffs will give domestic producers will give them a leg up by the time they expire.
But they won’t.
The reasons American made washing machines need the ‘protection’ in the first place is because their input costs are too high – because of unions, environmental regulations, what have you – and those reasons will not disappear on account of the tariffs.
This approach is effectively subsidizing domestic producers, and, with solar in particular, North Carolinians know all too well that subsidizing the local solar goons is not good economics. Just like solar subsidies take taxpayer money and give it to cronies, these tariffs unnecessarily saddle consumers with higher prices to protect other people’s jobs and business concerns.
The intended effects of protecting American jobs are much better achieved through the kind of regulatory and tax reforms Trump and Republicans have already proven to be winners. Those policies are fair to individuals and actually make businesses more competitive.
Raising prices on consumers on the misguided notion that Protectionism is a net positive does none of that. To the contrary, it puts the beneficiary businesses at the mercy of politicians in the Swamp and raises prices for everyone else.
It is not ‘winning’; it is engaging in the same kind of Big Government tactics that have been Progressive tools for decades and landed the American manufacturers in this mess to begin with.
Better, more balanced trade deals are one thing, and we should pursue those doggedly, but Protectionism is not an America First policy – that old dog doesn’t hunt.