Tariffs Increase Cost Of The ‘wall’
The ongoing federal government shutdown is every bit as ridiculous as the notion that a wall along the Southern border somehow will solve the nation’s immigration issues. But even more preposterous is that President Donald Trump, who instigated the shutdown in an effort to extort $5 billion from Congress for the woeful wall policy, has driven up the cost of his pet project through terrible trade policy. Trump originally favored a precast concrete wall to sully about 1,400 miles of the border with Mexico. But last week he provided an illustration of the new design he favors — 1,400 miles of vertical steel slats. According to an analysis by The Washington Post, the design would require 4.6 million steel slats 23 feet high, comprising about 9 million cubic feet of steel. Due to tariffs that Trump slapped on foreign steel earlier this year, steel prices are substantially higher than they were a year ago. Using domestic steel would not solve that problem, because domestic producers have used the price differentials with foreign steel created by the tariffs to raise their own prices. That’s why steel-dependent companies such as Harley-Davidson, General Motors and some others have announced layoffs and overseas production shifts to mitigate the increases, and why about 21,000 other U.S. companies have sought exemptions from the tariffs. But perhaps the cost analysis is moot because, after all, Mexico is going to pay for the wall. Right?