Free Trade

With Latest Trade War Gambit, Trump Administration Admits Americans Are Paying Tariff Costs

The White House says it will delay some new tariffs on Chinese imports until after the Christmas shopping season. But why do that if Americans aren't paying?

|

The White House on Tuesday said that some planned tariffs on consumer electronics and household goods would be postponed until December 15—a political maneuver intended to blunt the potential impact of those tariffs on the upcoming holiday shopping season.

What the White House didn't say in the official announcement—but what the action obviously indicates—is that Americans are clearly paying the costs associated with President Donald Trump's trade war.

In fact, Trump even said as much while speaking to reporters on Tuesday.

"We're doing this for the Christmas season," Trump said, according to The New York Times. "Just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers."

Just in case! It's far from a definitive statement, but this seems like the first time since he launched the trade war last year that Trump has admitted someone other than China is paying for his tariffs. Pretty much everyone this side of Peter Navarro and Fox & Friends already knows that Americans are paying for the tariffs—tariffs are taxes, after all—but it's ever so slightly refreshing to see that the Trump administration might be awakening to economic reality.

But don't let your hopes get too high. Trump is still pushing forward with a plan to levy 10 percent tariffs on about $300 billion worth of annual imports from China before the end of the year, and there are already 25 percent tariffs on about $250 billion in annual imports.

The items that will be spared from the tariff list until December 15 include smartphones, video game consoles, speakers, computer monitors, and other consumer electronics, along with various items of clothing and footwear. Another list of items, including children's car seats, shipping containers, and Bibles will be permanently exempted from the planned tariffs, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

"Today's announcement to delay imposing tariffs on Chinese imports of electronic goods, such as cellphones and laptops, is welcome news for American businesses and consumers," Neil Bradley, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.

While Americans will be temporarily spared the estimated $1 billion tax increase on tech good imported from China, consumers and businesses will have to keep paying the president's other tariffs.

In June, Americans paid $6 billion in tariffs—one of the highest single-month totals, in nominal terms, in American history. Tariffs imposed by the Trump administration accounted for more than $3.4 billion of that overall total, according to a new analysis from Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a coalition of business groups.

"It appears the administration understands that taxes on everyday products such as toys, clothes and electronics would be politically unpopular and hurt those who can least afford it," the group said in a statement released Tuesday. "Unfortunately, today's announcement doesn't address the vast majority of tariffs that are driving uncertainty, putting farmers out of business and causing small businesses to slow hiring. Instead of picking temporary winners and losers and holding the U.S. economy hostage, it is time to reach an agreement that finally puts an end to the trade war."

If Trump wants to give Americans a real Christmas present, he would set aside his foolish belief that China's behavior can be changed by imposing taxes on Americans. In the meantime, at least the president is starting to question the existence of Santa Claus.

Advertisement

NEXT: Media Notices Bernie's Nonsense Conspiracies When They're About Media

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

    1. Americans pay for Chinese tariffs even if they buy products from EU, Taiwan, Canada, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Mexico, or anywhere else but China.

      Eric Boehm is a moron.

  1. As a wise man says, “Tariffs are a voluntary tax.” Buy from somewhere else than a communist country. Maybe even America.

    1. And that wise man sounds like Obama (you didn’t build). So easy to just change your entire supply line based on the wims of a tyrant. Fuck off Slaver!

      Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States of America states, that “Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises”.

      1. Where’s your umbrage over internal tariffs?

        You fuck off, slaver

      2. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States of America states, that “Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises”.

        Yes, and Congress has partially delegated that power to the president.

        1. Yes, because Congress is made of supine, spineless wussies, who don’t have the courage and strength to PERFORM THEIR JOBS!

          1. Well yeah, but they still delegated it. Shit, just realized who I responded to. Tell me about government almighty!

          2. Yes, because Congress is made of supine, spineless wussies

            That’s certainly true, but it isn’t unconstitutional, nor does it make the exercise of the delegated powers unconstitutional.

    2. And you approve of it when Government Almighty puts a gun to my head (or at least, to the heads of the importers) to FORCE me to do what YOU think I should do! What do you think of it, when American washing-machine manufacturers get “protected” from Chinese competition, the FIRST thing that they do, is to jack up their prices to match! Who or what gives you this right? Please don’t say “democracy”, because USA democracy has a LONG history of approving of immoral, un-ethical things! Keep in mind that our “democracy” has blessed slavery, Jim Crow, no votes for women, concentration camps for Japanese-Americans, and on and on…
      FROM WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR ETHICS HERE?
      I have repeatedly asked this question (especially with regards to illegal humans), and I NEVER get answers from the bigots!!!

      1. If you don’t like the tariffs, feel free to move to another country, you unpatriotic scum. By continuing to live in the United States, you are implicitly agreeing with every decision made by the government, including tariffs and taxes and deficit spending and massive welfare spending and electing socialists to Congress and using the US intelligence agencies to undermine and delegitimize and persecute the duly elected President. Suck it up, buttercup, everything the government does you have agreed to support, that’s how a democratic process and agreeing to abide by the will of the majority works.

        1. Amen Dude-Sir I heartily agree!!! All Hail Government Almighty!

          “Government Almighty, giveth, and Government Almighty taketh away; blessed be the name of Government Almighty.”

          Let’s give it up for Government Almighty!!!

          Dearest Government Almighty:
          Our Nannies, who art in D.C.,
          Hallowed by Thy Names!
          Thy Wokeness come,
          Thy Will be done,
          Everywhere, as it is in D.C.
          Give us permission to be,
          And forgive us our 3 felonies per day,
          As we bake cakes for those who are gay.
          Lead us not into incorrectness,
          But deliver us from un-wokeness.
          For Thine is the Empire and the power and the glory,
          Forever and ever and ever! Amen!

          1. Now you’re getting with the program! Just keep thinking those happy thoughts lest you be wished into the corn field by those who claim they’ve always supported the war against Eastasia: supported higher taxes and higher spending and reasonable common sense gun control legislation and rule by executive order contrary to the intent of Congress and so on.

          2. Not bad at all SQRSY

            Matthew was good. Like the Bob Dylan of the day.

            It rhymes. Thumbs up.

        2. But, America is NOT a democracy, or at least it is not supposed to be…It is a Constitutional Representative Republic & thus, HildaBeast gets 3 million more votes than Trump, but loses….Majority does NOT rule!

      2. So, SQRLSY One, let’s cut to the chase. In your world, the US government can impose a $100 minimum wage on US employers, allow tariff-free imports from countries with no minimum wage, and then force the 10% of the population making more than $100/h to subsidize the rest of the US population. Except for a lower minimum wage, that’s what you’re advocating.

        You call that “free trade” and “libertarianism”. I call it theft on a massive scale, and I tell you to f*** off slaver.

        1. WHO ever said I was in favor of … “…the US government can impose a $100 minimum wage on US employers…”

          For some unknown reason, the kind of people who get their bowels in an uproar of spewed hatred towards illegal sub-humans, AND agitate for un-free trade and tariffs, can never find time to address this following argument (Maybe it is too complex for them to “grok”):
          The collective hive mandated WAY too many licenses, before we’re allowed to earn an honest living… Put too many of us into poverty. To “help” with this poverty problem that The Collective Hive created, The Collective Hive gave us welfare. Welfare then attracts too many illegal sub-humans, sometimes, so to fix THAT problem, The Collective Hive now wants e-verify and giant border walls and giant border armies… And now also property confiscations for wall-building… So I suppose The Collective Hive will next fire up the military draft to fix THAT problem! (Lack of a large enough wall-and-army forces).
          When will we stop the perpetual cycle of Government Almighty always getting bigger, to fix the LAST batch of problems created by excessive Government Almighty?

          Government Almighty mandated too many bennies in the USA and too many min wages? The fix is TARIFFS, fer Chrissakes?!?! How about LESS Government Almighty for once; can we try THAT?!?!

          1. “How about LESS Government Almighty for once; can we try THAT?!?!”

            In my best computer-simulation voice…

            I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.

          2. WHO ever said I was in favor of … “…the US government can impose a $100 minimum wage on US employers…”

            Well, you advocate unconditional no-tariff trade with China. Hence, except for a lower minimum wage, that’s what you’re advocating.

            Government Almighty mandated too many bennies in the USA and too many min wages? The fix is TARIFFS, fer Chrissakes?!?! How about LESS Government Almighty for once; can we try THAT?!?!

            SQRLSY One: “Less government for me, at your expense! I want my cheap Chinese crap, and if others have to pay for the consequences, I don’t give a f*ck.”

            Sorry, not going for it.

        2. Well, NOYB2, that is a whole lot of stuffing words into SQRLSLY’s mouth. Which, I’m told, is considered “psychotic”. I expect certain posters to denounce you for your presumed mental illness any moment now.

          Any. Moment. Now.

          1. “Well, NOYB2, that is a whole lot of stuffing words into SQRLSLY’s mouth.”

            The irony of YOU bitching like a cunt about that being done to HIM is powerful enough to spawn a black hole that can swallow the universe.

            It’s literally all EITHER of you two fucking clowns do.

          2. Well, NOYB2, that is a whole lot of stuffing words into SQRLSLY’s mouth.

            I’m not stuffing words in anybody’s mouth. I’m restating SQRLSLY’s position. That’s what adults do when they discuss something rationally.

            It’s telling that to you that appears as “mental illness”. Of course, I have experienced with that: socialist states love declaring dissenters to be mentally ill.

      3. And you approve of it when Government Almighty puts a gun to my head (or at least, to the heads of the importers) to FORCE me to do what YOU think I should do!

        Well, you certainly approve when Government Almighty puts a gun to my head and takes half my hard earned money!

        1. Said who? Citations please!!!

          1. Look who suddenly turned into Jeff.

    3. For a libertarian, LGDaub, you are quite an authoritarian, slack-jawed, jingoistic bigot!

      Fortunately, you will be replaced.

      1. You realize this whole “replacement” fantasy makes you a psychopath right?

        1. Or… a pod person
          Fn body snatchers

          1. I’m a body snatchers so no. He’s just a psychopath

    4. Why should the state substitute its moral judgment for that of its citizens, when it comes to where people choose to purchase their goods?

      1. Why should anyone care what you, a person who wants to import rapists, thinks?

    5. +100

  2. The White House on Tuesday said that some planned tariffs on consumer electronics and household goods would be postponed until December 15—a political maneuver intended to blunt the potential impact of those tariffs on the upcoming holiday shopping season.

    Hahaha. Won’t help bud. The Chinese have already pretty much indicated they ain’t negotiating anything until after the 2020 election. Which – you gotta admit – is a pretty good way of undermining the ‘worlds best negotiator of everything of all time’.

    So it’s still your move OrangeMan

    1. The Chinese have already pretty much indicated they ain’t negotiating anything until after the 2020 election.

      They ain’t negotiating because they have already given up: they have devalued their currency. As a result, the US government gets its tariffs, Chinese imports don’t change much either way, but the trade deficit will actually shrink in USD terms. If this is what the Chinese mean by “not negotiating”, we can keep doing it all year long!

      Chinese currency manipulations also show the absurdity of people who talk about tariff-free trade with China as if it were “free trade”.

      1. …people who talk about tariff-free trade with China as if it were “free trade”.

        So then when the USA Government Almighty SELECTIVELY PICKS WINNERS AND LOSERS among foreign suppliers (and the USA importers who bring their stuff to me), they are making me MORE free and not LESS free??!?! MORE TAXES are making me MORE FREE?

        War is peace, and freedom is slavery! PLEASE keep your “peace” and “freedom” away from me, slaver!

        1. So then when the USA Government Almighty SELECTIVELY PICKS WINNERS AND LOSERS among foreign suppliers (and the USA importers who bring their stuff to me), they are making me MORE free and not LESS free??!?!

          This may come as a shock to you, but we don’t live in a libertarian society, we live in a social democracy. In a social democracy, we vote to limit each other’s freedoms and take each other’s stuff. It’s not the system I prefer, but it’s the system we live under. So, if I can vote to get more stuff for me by limiting your freedom, I’m going to do that, just as you are evidently happily doing the same to me.

          Once you come around to wanting to create an actual libertarian society, we can have a discussion about that.

      2. they have already given up: they have devalued their currency. As a result, the US government gets its tariffs, Chinese imports don’t change much either way, but the trade deficit will actually shrink in USD terms

        Except of course that the exact opposite is true. Chinese currency (as the trade surplus country) would have to APPRECIATE v the dollar (thus making our exports cheaper to them and their exports more expensive to us) to correct the currency imbalance caused by trade. Their depreciation is because of their capital (investment) account not their current (trade) account. And prob something to do with internal debt/liquidity issues that no one outside China (maybe not even Wall St) knows whats happening.

        the absurdity of people who talk about tariff-free trade with China as if it were “free trade”

        I actually agree that you have a point there but it’s not what you – and certainly not Trump – think. Fluctuating currencies and pegged-currencies completely alter any Ricardian notion of ‘free trade’. And we should have made far better efforts to understand that 30 years ago when WTO replaced GATT. And should be adjusted for re differing tariffs with no goal of ‘zero tariffs’. In that case, there is also nothing to ‘negotiate’ at all. Set your tariffs as some function of currency-pair volatility and move on to the next item on the to-do list.

        1. Chinese currency (as the trade surplus country) would have to APPRECIATE v the dollar (thus making our exports cheaper to them and their exports more expensive to us) to correct the currency imbalance caused by trade

          That depends on price and demand elasticity. What you say is true in some common situations, but the US/Chinese situation is rather special. Devaluation balances tariffs, so in one direction neither prices nor demand change, but less money flows to the Chinese. In the other direction, Chinese demand is highly inelastic, so they have to pay higher US prices no matter what.

          And should be adjusted for re differing tariffs with no goal of ‘zero tariffs’.

          Adjust for what and to what end? Nobody knows even remotely what US/China trade would look like in a free market. It’s not just currency fluctuations, pegging, and debasement, it’s different regulatory regimes, subsidies, lack of capital and labor mobility, etc. Heck, our primary trading partner is the Chinese government, driven by political considerations. The idea that US/China trade can be analyzed in terms of free market economics and comparative advantage is absurd beyond belief.

          1. the US/Chinese situation is rather special.

            Kind of – they peg their currency to the dollar (like much of the Caribbean and Middle East and some other countries in Asia). Which does impose a ‘trade cost’ on us but for a different reason than you think. It imposes that cost by turning our Federal Reserve into their Federal Reserve too because they are part of a broader ‘dollar zone’. Which means that when the Fed subsidizes cost of capital here, they are subsidizing cost of capital there too. But even that trade cost is partially offset by a huge winners/losers game – when financial sector here gains massively cuz they are the ones who create dollars by lending

            At any rate – China is only ‘special’ in that dollar zone cuz it (like us) is far more investment/capital than trade/current driven. It also means the way to ‘hurt that peg decision’ is to jack up interest rates here. Like back to normal. And the sad fact is that we are too addicted to that subsidy-to-the-wealthy to last long without our markets crashing for another fill up at the TARP station.

            Nobody knows even remotely what US/China trade would look like in a free market.

            There is no such thing as a free market or free trade when you have floating OR pegged currencies. So I agree – stop aiming for that as a goal. Instead aim for what is achievable. Which is basically a roughly level playing field – inside the US – for big and small cos – for exporters and importers – for Wall St and Main St – for countries that allow their currencies to float and those that don’t. Give up all the shit/perks/dreams associated with being the reserve currency empire. And set up a boringly predictable (and transparent) algorithm for how tariffs adjust when currencies adjust. Then – it doesn’t matter what the fuck anyone else does. Nor is there anything to negotiate.

            1. Which does impose a ‘trade cost’ on us but for a different reason than you think

              I have given a simple macroeconomic analysis in terms of prices, tariffs, costs, and elasticity. If there is anything specific wrong with it, you’re welcome to argue against it.

              So far, all you have done is wave your hands and spoken in generalities.

  3. Maybe Trump should put the tariffs on immediately and buy everyone a Christmas present with the money, like he did for the farmers!

    1. If he makes the tariffs 100%, then perhaps everything will be free? Government will make as much as it spends on our Christmas presents! Free money! The Chinese (or was it Mexicans) will be paying the tariffs.

  4. Nice post! If you are getting any technical issue with your gadgets you can Best Buy Total Tech Support that helps best in Online remote support. For more details you can also visit https://www.xgeeksquad.com/geek-squad-total-tech-support/

  5. #MAGA to drive Boehm more crazy than he already is.

  6. You would think a “conservative” like Trump would be vehemently opposed to tariffs.
    But it appears he’s really a Kenseyian at heart.

    1. He’s a PROTECTIONIST at heart!!! Good Americans deserve good jobs, and all others can go to Hell! If Americans smear dog poop on the walls, it is “great ART”, and they deserve billions of dollars!!!

      Un-Americans from Un-Americans can just suck wind and die, according to Orange Man… Who ALSO thinks that the un-Americans will NEVER strike back!

      Orange Man bad?!? He BAD, all right! He SOOO BAD, He be GOOD! He be GREAT! He Make America Great Again!

      We KNOW He can Make America Great Again, because, as a bad-ass businessman, He Made Himself and His Family Great Again! He Pussy Grabber in Chief!
      http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/donald-trump-scandals/474726/

      “The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet”
      He pussy-grab His creditors in 7 bankruptcies, His illegal sub-human workers ripped off of pay on His building projects, and His “students” in His fake Get-Rich-like-Me reality schools, and so on. So, He has a GREAT record of ripping others off! So SURELY He can rip off other nations, other ethnic groups, etc., in trade wars and border wars, for the benefit of ALL of us!!!
      All Hail to THE Pussy Grabber in Chief!!!

      Most of all, HAIL the Chief, for having revoked karma! What comes around, will no longer go around!!! The Donald has figured out that all of the un-Americans are SOOO stupid, that we can pussy-grab them all day, every day, and they will NEVER think of pussy-grabbing us right back!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.