Free Trade

Trump's Proposed Tariffs on Tea and Fireworks Are Doubly Awful on Independence Day

Tariffs on tea have never caused any problems, right?

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It's a good thing no one has ever gotten upset about taxes on tea.

As President Donald Trump celebrates the Fourth of July with a "Salute to America" celebration including tanks and fighter jets, his administration is preparing to slap new tariffs on—among many other things—both imported tea and fireworks.

Talk about unpatriotic.

On May 10, the Trump administration released a list of some $300 billion in annual Chinese imports that could be subject to new tariffs. With the conclusion of public hearings on the proposed tariffs last month, a formal announcement of the new import taxes could be coming at any time.

"If the tariffs go through, ultimately the consumer will pay the price," Peter Goggi, president of the Tea Association of the USA, Inc., told the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative during those hearings. "It's the consumer that gets hurt."

The United States is the world's largest importer of tea, according to World Tea News, and China is the world's largest exporter, having sold more than $1.8 billion to other countries in 2018.

Meanwhile, the proposed tariffs on fireworks demonstrate the cronyism of Trump's economic nationalism. Ohio-based Phantom Fireworks donated $750,000 worth of exploding palms, willows, and chrysanthemums to Trump's shindig on the National Mall—and, ABC News reports, the owner of the company used the donation to personally lobby for relief from Trump's proposed tariffs.

But why would an American company need to lobby the president for relief from tariffs when, as Trump regularly claims, Americans aren't paying for them? It's an Independence Day mystery!

All told, the Trump administration's new tariff list would amount to a $90 billion annual tax increase on Americans—the largest single tax increase since before World War II.

"President Trump taking aim at things like tea and fireworks proves that this is not about making America stronger, but a misguided effort to harm American allies," says Bryan Riley, director of the National Taxpayers Union's Free Trade Initiative. "Although there have been reports of a temporary break in the escalation of the U.S.-China trade war, the threat of new tariffs remains in place."

There are still other ways that Trump's trade war could affect your Fourth of July celebrations. Everything from patio furniture to hot dogs could be more expensive, thanks to the trade war, writes columnist Christine McDaniel.

But at least Trump doesn't have to worry about people getting upset about taxes on tea. Americans would never do that.

NEXT: Here's What's Standing in the Way of Your Independence Day Fireworks

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34 responses to “Trump's Proposed Tariffs on Tea and Fireworks Are Doubly Awful on Independence Day

  1. I guess it is too much to hope that the faux Indian, living in Taxachusetts no less, and running for president, will stage a modern Tea Party over this?

    1. What? She not smokum peace pipe?

  2. No argument from me that this new slew of tariffs is a bad idea, but comparing them to the British Tea Act is too far a stretch for my tastes — unless you’re suggesting America is actually just a Chinese colony and China hates that her American colonialists are undermining the state-sanctioned official tea exporter in favor of cheap, illegal 3rd-party imports.

    1. And the protests were about the issue of Parliament issuing taxes despite tradition and colonial charters which only gave the colonial government’s the power to tax. The colonies believed, as free British citizens they were entitled not to be taxed without representation. The Parliament believed the colonies owed the crown (which was broke after 70 years of near continuous wars) for the colonies defenses in the 7 years/French Indian Wars. However, the colonist bankrolled most of the own defenses, with most of the forces being colonial militia and the crown worried far more about European and South Pacific Theaters than the North American Theater.
      Additionally, Trump has announced that he is holding off on any new tariffs to give new negotiations a chance to work.

      1. Even if I hated Trump I would want his trade negotiations to work. I usually thought Obama was doing the stupid thing, but I always hoped he could get the results I wanted to see.

        The left, and some of the ‘libertarians’ at Reason just want him to fail.

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  4. Tariffs on tea have never caused any problems, right?

    FFS, Boehm, don’t pretend to understand American history.

  5. Those “It’s the consumer that gets hurt” arguments arguments are so dumb. Yes, Einstein, everybody knows that. But that argument completely ignores every other effect of tariffs.

    1. It doesn’t matter. The overall effect of tariffs is always negative.

      1. That’s nonsense. The overall effect of tariffs is that of a consumption tax, meaning it discourages consumption and provides revenue to the government. Given the state of the US, neither of those are obviously negatives.

      2. Negative compared to no tax whatsoever. But we don’t live tax free. so your argument is shit.

  6. Far more disastrous than a tea tariff is a bourbon fire at Jim Beam

    And typical for the media they are focused on the impact on Kentucky River aquatic life. Even though they are a bunch of freeloaders and moochers who didn’t pay for that bourbon at all.

  7. did the market “crash” again lately, Eric?…..lol

  8. So, I expected a simplistic (wrong) analysis of the pre-Revolution war acts and some sad attempt to draw a parallel. Bingo, Eric nailed it. Was this a freshman essay he stole from some C average poli-sci major?

    1. Yes, this hot take is about as misapplied as possible. The Boston Tea Party was more about the Townshend acts and the Stamp Tax that preceded it. it’s so lame it can hardly even be called historic revisionism.

      But, we Reason readers get what we pay for…

    2. Please post a link to your master’s thesis on colonial tax policy.

      1. My M.S. is in science. You can find it at Chilson et Al, 2015 in the journal of PAS.

    3. Boehm really is just repetitive and awful.

  9. Harney and Sons hardest hit.

  10. I heard a story once about a kid who tried to shoot a bottle rocket out of his penis and it got stuck (you can guess the rest). Not sure if it was true or just an urban myth, like the girl in everyone’s school who got a hot dog stuck in there because she was using it as a dildo.

  11. Yeah, the Founding Fathers hated tariffs so much that they chose tariffs as the primary means of financing the federal government!

  12. FFS Boehm, find a new tune.

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  14. Americans drink tea?

  15. […] including even close US allies. To add insult to injury, the Trump administration even plans to institute new tariffs on tea and fireworks. The British government’s tea protectionism was, of course, the proximate cause of the Boston […]

  16. […] including even close US allies. To add insult to injury, the Trump administration even plans to institute new tariffs on tea and fireworks. The British government’s tea protectionism was, of course, the proximate cause of the Boston Tea […]

  17. […] including even close US allies. To add insult to injury, the Trump administration even plans to institute new tariffs on tea and fireworks. The British government’s tea protectionism was, of course, the proximate cause of the Boston […]

  18. […] including even close US allies. To add insult to injury, the Trump administration even plans to institute new tariffs on tea and fireworks. The British government’s tea protectionism was, of course, the proximate cause of the Boston […]

  19. […] including even close US allies. To add insult to injury, the Trump administration even plans to institute new tariffs on tea and fireworks. The British government’s tea protectionism was, of course, the proximate cause of the Boston […]

  20. Why should domestic *labor* be taxed when purchased, but not foreign goods?

    Cui bono?

    Reason: Free trade is when American workers pay payroll and income taxes, while Emperor Xi’s imports pay no tax.

    Adam Smith disagrees, favoring tariffs to offset local taxes on production:

    “It will generally be advantageous to lay some burden upon foreign industry for the encouragement of domestic industry, when some tax is imposed at home upon the produce of the latter. In this case, it seems reasonable that an equal tax should be imposed upon the like produce of the former. This would not give the monopoly of the borne market to domestic industry, nor turn towards a particular employment a greater share of the stock and labour of the country, than what would naturally go to it. It would only hinder any part of what would naturally go to it from being turned away by the tax into a less natural direction, and would leave the competition between foreign and domestic industry, after the tax, as nearly as possible upon the same footing as before it.”

  21. […] including even close US allies. To add insult to injury, the Trump administration even plans to institute new tariffs on tea and fireworks. The British government’s tea protectionism was, of course, the proximate cause of the Boston […]

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