When Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders agree on an economic policy, most Republicans object. They were objecting when the Democratic Senators pushed tariffs against China a couple of years ago because they knew it was a bad idea. Unfortunately, sound advice from fiscal conservatives couldn’t break through President Trump’s bubble. Now, most Republicans believe in the progressive concept of “fair trade” instead of the conservative notion of “free trade.”
The saddest part is most Republicans who support the President’s tariffs don’t even realize he stole the idea from the progressive Senators in the first place. They’re so locked into tribal bickering and party politics that they don’t take a moment to question anything the President does. This isn’t the first time conservatives have abandoned sound principles for the sake of party unity. People who still claim to be conservatives were silent when the President pushed for his bump stock ban. They started nodding their heads in sheepish agreement as Republican lawmakers and the President started echoing leftist calls for red flag gun laws that betray the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Amendments. They call for the wall at all costs, and while I definitely agree we need a wall, I would not accept breaching Natural Rights to property through the use of eminent domain, which President Trump used gleefully before he was elected President.
Now, as we’re seeing results of China’s economy rebounding with a record trade surplus in spite of the ineffective tariffs the President has imposed, two groups of people continue to pay the fees to the United States government. It’s not China. Their companies are simply charging more to compensate. That means the money being fed to the United States government is coming from American businesses and consumers.
Republicans understood this when they opposed Schumer’s and Sanders’ Chinese tariff proposals, but since the President adopted them, suddenly tariffs are a good idea.
There’s a reason trade deficit is not a true indicator of economic success. As the economy gets better, companies in the country tend to import more. Trying to reverse the trade deficit is both illogical and counterproductive. We should be focused on cutting regulations and costs to American businesses, not raising them as tariffs invariably do. This is why the free trade market-driven economy works so well in the 21st century. The only benefit of tariffs is driving more revenue paid by Americans into government coffers.
Notice how the economy rebounded when the President and Capitol Hill cut taxes. The reaction was strong and nearly universal. You could see more jobs being created, more wages being earned, and more companies wanting to do their business in America instead of abroad. How many jobs have come back to America since the President started his tariff money-grab nearly a year ago? The benefits have been negligible. In fact, one can argue that the tariffs have started taking away many of the gains that came from cutting taxes in the first place.
The President demonstrated his total misunderstanding of the benefits and detriments to tariffs during the GOP primary season. Now, the same lawmakers who opposed tariffs then have either remained silent or expressed tepid optimism about them. This optimism isn’t based on a new understanding of what tariffs do. It’s based solely on the fear that they would get ousted like Jeff Flake or Bob Corker if they challenge the President’s policies.
The positives that came from the tax cuts are systematically being reversed by the negatives of tariffs. Conservatives used to understand this. Now, they’re sticking their collective heads in the sand in hopes when they pull them out, the tariffs will be gone.