Free Trade

Trump's Trade War Is Already Unpopular. New Tariffs on Scotch Whisky, Italian Pasta, and French Cheese Won't Help.

Even a majority of Republicans now tell pollsters that the trade war is costing Americans, and there's no easy justification for targeting European cultural goods.


Following through on threats to hit more European imports with tariffs seems unlikely to change the fact that most Americans disagree with President Donald Trump's trade war.

If anything, higher import taxes on items like Scotch whisky, French cheeses, and Italian pasta will only add to domestic opposition to Trump's trade policies. What is the president going to say: that Scotch should be made in America?

On Monday, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced plans to consider tariffs on 89 European-made items worth an estimated $4 billion annually. Those will be added to a list of proposed tariffs on European Union (E.U.) imports that the Trump administration unveiled in April. Together, the two lists represent items worth an estimated $21 billion annually.

This latest U.S.-E.U. trade spat is effectively a fight between Boeing, the American-based airplane manufacturer, and its European-based rival, Airbus. Both are heavily subsidized by their respective governments, and both have been suing one another at the World Trade Organization for years over claims that the other is unfairly helped by that corporate welfare. Trump administration officials have stressed that the Boeing-Airbus fight is wholly separate from the Trump administration's other trade policies, which have included other threats to impose tariffs on European-made goods, including cars.

But none other than Trump himself has conflated the two, tweeting in April that Airbus is one example of how the E.U. has "taken advantage of the United States" and promising that "it will soon stop." For the general public, too, drawing a distinction between the different actions is surely rather difficult. The White House's willingness to turn to tariffs as a magical solution to complex or imaginary problems—from China's theft of intellectual property, to migrants crossing Mexico to reach to the U.S., to the national security risk presented by Toyotas—makes it more difficult to make the case that tariffs are actually justified in a specific situation.

And Americans are growing weary of the trade war, new polling suggests.

A New York Times/Survey Monkey poll released Sunday shows that 68 percent of respondents—including a majority of Republicans—say Trump's trade policies will raise prices.

A clear majority—53 percent—say Trump's Chinese tariffs will be "bad" for the United States, while only 43 percent believe they will benefit the country.

The poll also found that Republicans, no surprise, are far more likely to believe tariffs will create more domestic jobs (75 percent say they will), while only 14 percent of Democrats agree. Those types of questions used to be far less partisan, but Trump seems to have changed that—although trade policy "continues to rank low among the issues that voters are focused on," the Times notes.

Even so, opposition to tariffs among Democrats and independent voters would seem to be a political liability for Trump. After meetings between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at this week's G-20 summit again failed to result in a trade deal, Trump could face more domestic political scrutiny over policies that have cost consumers and businesses without much to show for it.

Democrats may have a hard time taking advantage of that liability in next year's election, however, because leading candidates like Sens. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) support protectionist trade policies too. Warren, in particular, has indicated that she thinks Trump should go further in erecting barriers to trade.

Not all the Democratic presidential candidates share that view, thankfully. In last week's debate, Andrew Yang and Pete Buttigieg made strong, if brief, attacks on Trump's tariffs. "Manufacturers, and especially soy farmers, are hurting. Tariffs are taxes," Buttigieg said before turning to attack what he said was Trump's overblown concern with trade deficits.

Unfortunately, the moderators didn't ask Warren or Sanders any questions on trade. But if polls continue to show that most Americans are opposed to Trump's protectionism, it will provide a political opportunity for Democrats to exploit and good fodder for voters trying to sort out differences among the many, many candidates trying to unseat Trump.

In the meantime, slapping more tariffs on European imports is unlikely to convince Americans that Trump's trade policies are working. Artificially inflating the price of a bottle of Scotch or a hunk of fancy cheese won't bring those jobs to the United States—and setting those tariffs in order to tip the scales toward the corporate welfare hogs at Boeing isn't a great look, either.

NEXT: California Police Agencies Were Supposed To Make Misconduct Records Public. Why Isn’t It Happening?

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  1. Scotch Whisky – support America and drink bourbon

    Italian Pasta – go Keto — it’s healthier and supports American farmers!

    French Cheese – lol you like French cheese? Strap on a pair Mary and heat up some Velveeta the way your grandfather did.


    1. Like you can afford any of that stuff

      1. And my guess is you don’t melt a slice of American cheese on a slice of homemade apple pie, you fucking Communist scumbag.

        1. You know sometimes psychiatric drugs can do wonders. Just saying

        2. I think the American cheese on pie thing is a coastal elitist myth. Who would ruin perfectly good pie that way?

          1. It totally is. And since when is American cheese some kind of class statement. You can get it on a burger at any hipster burger joint going.

          2. Real Americans would know to enhance pie that way.

            1. God you’re so fucking lazy and boring.

                1. Me – “you’re lazy and boring”

                  Loser – “lazy boring mom joke”

                2. Crusty do you need a hug? Need someone to pay attention to you for a little bit?

                  1. Nah, he has Chipper Boring Witless for that.

            2. You’ve seen American Pie. Cheez, not cheese.

          3. I’ve never heard of putting American cheese on apple pie, but to me, it sounds no odder than looking at a serving of beans and deciding rather than a little salt, this dish really needs tons of brown sugar.

            In fact instead of ‘building the wall,’ we just need to have pots of baked beans along the border. Mexicans will decide that this is not where I want to live.

            1. Mexicans do know their beans
              Pinto/refried or bust

              1. Yeah, they do. Black beans are more common in the south of Mexico. My wife is from Mexico. She like grits and chicken wings (more than I do), but sweet beans…that’s almost sacrilegious.

        3. Cheddar not American

          Or scoop of vanilla ice cream.

          American belongs in a grilled cheese sandwich.

          Now tell me the proper way to make one of those.

          1. That’s pretty easy. Butter on a hot, flat surface. Brown the bread and put cheese inside until it starts to melt. ‘American cheese’ may not be real cheese, but its melting characteristics work really well for this purpose.

    2. Reason really needs some new material.

    3. Either a troll or just as stupid as any Trump supporter. Dealer’s choice I suppose.

    4. Trump is an economic illiterate who bankrupted most of the businesses he has been involved with. He does not understand how tariffs work, he does not understand how trade surpluses/deficits work he doesn’t understand how any of this works. Unfortunately, he fancies himself an expert

      1. The Last Angry Man says, “Trump is an economic illiterate who managed to accumulate billions of dollars while I’m an economic genius who cannot afford tariffs on cheese and whiskey but Trump will provide me with an endless supply of domestic whine.” FTFY


    There Ain’t No Such Thing As Free Trade (or even close to it, at least as long as governments use it for political purposes)

  3. The only way Trump can pass tariffs is by claiming a national security risk. Can anyone explain how olives are a pressing threat to national security?

    1. Because Italy is planning to use the money from olive sales to clone Mussolini?

      1. Haven’t you seen the Godfather? It’s all a front for organized crime.

        Sadly, that’s only half joking.

    2. Give me a minute… I am sure I can think of something. But, as you well know, that deadly Italian pasta is a much bigger threat……

    3. olives… pressing…

      I see what you did right there.

    4. Can anyone explain how olives are a pressing threat to national security?

      Perhaps olives in and of themselves are not the issue here, ATM.
      Surely you are aware that olive oil is derived from olives. Humans have been using olive oil for thousands of years by means of maceration.

      Ergo, from olives we obtain oil.
      Oil, as I am certain you will admit, is oft times mentioned when politicians, political pundits, members of the media, et cetera, discuss national security.

    5. First cold pressing threat?

    6. Maybe Trump is trying to woo California to the “blue” side. After all, CA is grows more olives than any other State. Trump protecting CA. Do I need to mention the irony….

    7. Here, here, hear this!

      Olives threaten our national security as follows:

      A free press is vitally essential to our national security!

      And olive presses are clearly biased in favor of pressing olives, and it is EXTREMELY difficult for olive presses to express ANY diverse views, other than in flavor of pressing our poor, helpless virgin olives!!!

        1. And Á àß äẞç ãþÇđ âÞ¢Đæ ǎB€Ðëf ảhf

            1. ” You will NEVER consume us all!!!”

              We get it, you’re fat Old Mexican/And Á àß äẞç ãþÇđ âÞ¢Đæ ǎB€Ðëf ảhf

    8. The olive trains will run on time!

  4. MARKETS IMPLODING!!! – Boehm, when the market fell

    1. And? Would you rather have Reason ignore ironclad evidence of economic devastation?

      Face it — Drumpf has been disastrous for the global economy, just as Paul Krugman foretold.


      1. God you’re so fucking boring crusty.

  5. Wait a minute, is Chinese forced IP transfer/IP theft supposed to be complex, or imaginary? because it is neither. It is the prefect hill to charge up with tariffs, and that seems to be working already

    1. Forced is a funny way of saying they entered into a contract they don’t like. I’d even laugh if I wasn’t now paying more for construction materials because the progressive idiots in Silicon Valley don’t understand that Communist don’t believe in private property. I might even be willing to help them out but they all seem more then willing to import those commie beliefs to America.

      The theft is an issue.

  6. pasta requires flour and water, not importing.

  7. Stupid Americans just don’t know what’s for their own good, which is why we need Top Men like Trump to tell us what’s our own good. And you’re an unpatriotic sonofabitch if you are not proud to sacrifice your individual liberty for the good of the collective.

  8. Dear Reason and the author, Everything government does has cost Americans: It has cost us dollars, lives, sanity, Liberty, Freedom, and the ability to thrive. So many of us scrape by so that the denizens Washington DC can become lazy and flatulent while lying to us constantly. In fact we actually look forward to the lying. It is better than smelling your shit.

    1. +100

  9. I’m consistently impressed with Swalwell’s statements on common sense gun safety.

    Assault weapons have become the firearm of choice in too many mass shootings. We don’t have to live this way — those guns only belong on battlefields. Do you support a ban AND buy-back of every weapon of war in America?

    As longtime libertarian activist Michael Hihn has explained, the Constitution actually permits far more comprehensive gun safety laws than we currently have.


  10. “General pubic” my ass. No one who voted for Trump ever buys Scotch, imported pasta, or French cheese. These tariffs will only inconvenience the 10%ers who actually buy that stuff, and who probably vote Democrat anyway. And they won’t even notice the price increase unless they read about in the news.

    1. All the rich Republicans I know voted for Trump. And everyday I hear them bitch about tariffs (not on scotch but lumber and steel, you know the things we need to MAGA). Not saying they will all of sudden start voting for Bernie Sanders but yeah they aren’t happy either.

    2. No one who voted for Trump ever buys Scotch, imported pasta, or French cheese.

      That’s right! Because every Trump voter, every single one, is a yokel who shops at Dollar Tree and thinks Olive Garden represents haute cuisine. Is that what you’re trying to say, Vern?

      1. You’re gonna need to link to where he said, not impled, that.

        At least 2 sources please.

        1. If jeffrey ever posted links he would know you cant post 2 due to reasons crap filters.

          1. Shhh that would have kept him tied up in fits for days.

          2. If jeffrey ever posted links

            lol, from the guy who doesn’t know how to use Ctrl-C or Ctrl-V

            1. You’re gonna need to post links proving that he “doesn’t know how to use Ctrl-C or Ctrl-V”

              1. I’m also going to need a link for the “laughing out loud”

      2. As I’ve told you before, sometimes the truth is painful.

    3. ““General pubic” my ass”

      I have indeed seen what you did there.

      1. Give him credit, he was close. Almost John-esque.

    4. If paying more for my Ardbeg means opening markets for US goods in Europe so be it.

    1. And the recent South Bend shooting mysteriously remains the only cop shooting in history that reason has no interest in covering.

      1. Not just a police shooting mind you, a white cop shooting a black civilian!

        Do you remember how frothing-at-the-mouth enraged these guys were at the George Zimmerman incident? Isn’t it truly incredible just how shameless, dishonest, and unprincipled these cretins around here are?

  11. Austin Texas lives the Libertarian moment

    The city council made it perfectly legal to camp out on the city’s public spaces and sidewalks, under bridges and overpasses and, well, everywhere all over town – except, notably, parks and Austin City Hall.

    That’s right. The city council exempted themselves from seeing homeless campouts — let’s call them Adlervilles, after the esteemed Mayor Steve Adler — on their own front porch. Mayor Adler and his cohort deemed city hall camping out of bounds. But you, owner of the local cookie store or overtaxed home, will get to see and step over and around all manner of things right out in your yard 24-7 now.

    Libertarians love bums almost as much as they love Muslims and Trannies.

    1. ” The city council exempted themselves from seeing homeless campouts ”

      The ruling class always exempts themselves from the consequences of the policies they inflict on the peasants.

      Obamacare was good enough for the peasants, but federal employees were exempted.

  12. “A clear majority—53 percent—say Trump’s Chinese tariffs will be “bad” for the United States, while only 43 percent believe they will benefit the country.”

    Dishonest, or just stupid? Reason has to misrepresent even a NYT poll to get the conclusion they want.

    The question was whether the increased tariffs between US and China would be bad for the US. That’s like asking whether the war with Japan was good or bad for the US. It was bad. But it doesn’t mean we would have been better off by not fighting back.

    But Boehm misrepresents the poll as asking only if “Trump’s tariffs on China” were good or bad for the US, leaving out the Chinese tariffs from the poll.



    Claire Lemon is brutalizing the various blue check mafia who are excusing and defending the Ngo attack.

    1. Followed links to Cathy Young:

      One can take issue with some of Ngo’s work, as I have. His coverage of the culture wars, while often excellent, tends to go too easy on the right. But if having biases disqualifies one from being a journalist, every one of Ngo’s detractors is far less of a journalist than he is.


  14. “…it will provide a political opportunity for Democrats to exploit and good fodder for voters trying to sort out differences among the many, many candidates trying to unseat Trump.”

    They’re too busy trying to outdo each other in shredding the first and second amendments. And the fourth, fifth, thirteenth and fourteenth.

  15. Scotch prices affected?
    Okay, this whole trade war thingy has gone too far.
    What will the average deplorable do if he has to pay more than $50 for a bottle of Scotch!?!?!!

    1. $50.00 is cheap, and has been for many years. Inexpensive single malts start at about $65.00 now, and decent big names go even higher.

  16. “The poll also found that Republicans, no surprise, are far more likely to believe tariffs will create more domestic jobs (75 percent say they will), while only 14 percent of Democrats agree.”

    This is a huge surprise if you go back 15 years. Republicans used to hold an advantage in economic literacy. These days it’s like ‘pick your poison.’ If you don’t believe in high tariffs or wealth punishment, it appears nobody agrees with you. It’s surely becoming lonely being right.

    1. If it were Obama imposing tariffs then 100% of democrats would agree with them.

      1. Obama DID impose tariffs and most Democrats DID agree with them.

        That and multiple Democrat Presidents implemented “National Emergencies” that are still running.
        List of national emergencies in the United States

      2. This may be partially true, but I personally oppose them regardless of which party is proposing them. China’s sort of a special case. If I were President, I might threaten tariffs to gain concessions on intellectual property defense. They’re not going to give an inch on human rights…that touches upon political survival. Trump is right about one thing, in an all-out trade war, they get hurt worse. That seems like a shallow victory though…we suffer and they suffer more. Can someone explain to Trump the carrot and the stick analogy?

        1. Do we have any carrots to offer China?

          1. The carrot is access to US markets.

            We gave China years to ramp up their industrial capacity to supply American wants. The USA can get cheap shit from a variety of different nations around the World.

          2. Oh my God, yes we do. China is seeing a disappearing of their cheap manufacturing base to places like Vietnam, where labor is even cheaper. China has loads of incentive to cut a deal on intellectual property. As a hypothetical example, if Apple were to turn over everything iPhone-related to a Chinese company (there is not that much residual value anyway), except the rights to the technology itself, and had assurances it would continue to profit, everyone wins. Smartphones are cheaper and China has quality control mechanisms which other SE Asia countries don’t have. The problem is that the Chinese Communist Party has zero respect for patents or international trade secrets. This can be bargained, if the CCP can keep the internal fat, happy cats at bay.

            1. I say let the Irish fight for Apples cause. Apple is incorporated there for tax purpose right? Don’t fly the American flag, don’t get American protection; America First!

              1. Who are you calling an Irishman? Actually, I’m cursed by two…an Irish American born and raised in Delaware, the domestic tax haven.

                Seriously though, the Apple BRAND is American; if they aren’t paying enough corporate US taxes, that isn’t their fault. Their accountability is to shareholders, not the flag.

    2. Both parties hold to the economically illiterate notion that it is the purpose of government to maximize consumer spending. So do you, for that matter.

      1. No, I don’t hold to the notion that consumer spending needs to be maximized, and even if I did, I surely don’t think the government needs to be doing the maximization.

        On the other hand, the United States has become a wealthy nation because of globalization. Capital flight is inevitable by the rules that we created. The way we stay on top is innovation. I used the iPhone example, because it took quite a while for Samsung, etc., to mimic the breakthrough. In that time lag, lots of American jobs and American innovation were enabled. The only way to sustain an income gap with, say, Cambodia or Malawi, is to stay a step ahead of the curve. We’ve been doing this for a long time.

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  18. If this keeps up, I might have to start an import-export business in Tel Aviv that packages EU food into gift baskets for sale in the USA. How easy is it to find kosher EU food?

    1. Probably a lot more difficult than finding Halal EU food.

  19. New Tariffs on Scotch Whisky, Italian Pasta, and French Cheese Won’t Help.

    They will certainly not help with the intellectual and political elite. Regular Americans couldn’t care less.

    1. And it won’t hurt the exporting countries either, because the kind of Americans who buy that stuff won’t even notice the price going up.

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  22. If we’re going to slap tariffs on anything being imported from Europe, it should be their limp wristed proggieness… But I’m not sure exactly how one would go about that…

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