AP NEWS

Reclaim Authority Over Trade

May 27, 2019

President Donald Trump still contends that trade wars are “easy to win,” even as he slaps together another $16 billion in subsidies to help keep afloat U.S. farmers who are leading casualties of the war. Irony abounds. Trump claims falsely that China has paid the U.S. Treasury more than $100 billion in tariffs, even as those Trump-imposed taxes are paid by U.S. consumers through the higher prices they pay on imported products. The International Monetary Fund reported Thursday that U.S. companies and consumers have paid the tariffs, and that the ongoing U.S.-China impasse threatens to slow global economic growth over the next several years. Now, U.S. taxpayers will pay another $16 billion, atop the $12 billion already distributed, to bail out farmers affected by retaliatory Chinese tariffs on agricultural products. And much of that money will be borrowed from ... China. China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agriculture are destructive in an another way. Other countries, especially Russia, have rushed to fill the tariff-created hole in the Chinese market. Thus, the tariffs serve the further destructive purpose of bolstering a hostile foreign power at the expense of American farmers. According to the free-trade advocacy group Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, Pennsylvania businesses paid $618 million in new import taxes through March. That includes $64 million in tariffs for the month of March alone, and the total is certain to rise because of the ongoing tariff escalation. The group also reported that Pennsylvania exporters, mostly farmers, have been subjected to $317 million worth of retaliatory tariffs by China and other countries, through March. Statewide, the trade war adversely has affected Pennsylvania companies, through higher costs for imported goods or new foreign tariffs on exports, that employ more than 87,000 Pennsylvania workers. The worst part of this battle is that there is no discernible end game. Congress should demand one and use as leverage its power to reclaim its authority over trade.

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