Free Trade

Mike Pence Says Joe Biden Will Repeal Trump's Tariffs. That's a Good Idea!

Too bad Biden's position isn't as good as Pence makes it sound.

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The vast majority of Americans have a favorable opinion of global trade. Vice President Mike Pence delivered a clear message to that group during last night's debate: Joe Biden's your man.

"Joe Biden wants to repeal all of the tariffs that President Trump put into effect," Pence claimed—testing out the unusual political strategy of telling voters that your opponent wants to cut taxes. In fact, Pence's pitch on Biden's behalf is such a straightforward promise that could appeal to huge swaths of Americans on both sides of the partisan divide that the real head-scratcher is why Biden hasn't embraced it already.

The case for repealing Trump's tariffs is a strong one. The tariffs on Chinese imports have largely failed to bring about any of the benefits Trump promised, and both America and China seem to have already disregarded what little progress was made with the signing of a limited trade deal last year. The White House promised that tariffs would help rejuvenate American manufacturing, but the added costs from tariffs on industrial inputs were one of the chief reasons why the manufacturing sector had fallen into recession even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. America's trade deficit with China, which Trump promised to reduce, is now larger than it has ever been.

When you add them all up, the tariffs are one of the biggest tax increases in recent American history, and the cost is borne—despite what Trump and his allies like to claim—entirely by American consumers and businesses. The administration has spent $28 billion just to fix some of the messes these policies have created for American farmers.

And while trade issues will probably never swing as many voters as culture war battles, people have noticed that the trade war isn't going well. Nearly 70 percent of Americans say they are "concerned" about how tariffs are adding to the cost of household products—a cost that could be as high as $1,200 annually for an average household.

And now the vice president says, again, that all that could go away if you vote for Biden. Seriously.

Even more incredible: Biden has failed to scoop up this Trumpian fumble and return it for a touchdown.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), Biden's running mate and Pence's opponent in last night's debate, refused to engage Pence's claim that a Democratic administration would revoke the tariffs. That's what we've come to expect from Biden's campaign, which has been careful to avoid making any commitments with regard to tariffs. Once a fairly ardent free-trader—at least for a Democrat—Biden's approach throughout this year's campaign has been to criticize Trump's trade war for being self-defeating and foolish while simultaneously winking at the protectionists on the left who would probably love Trump's tariffs if they'd been imposed by a Democratic administration.

Meanwhile, Biden is pushing a dubious "Buy American" policy that would translate into a series of expensive and ineffective regulations in the name of economic nationalism. Over and over again, Biden and Harris have been happy to point out the many failures of Trump's anti-trade policies, but they don't seem willing to apply those lessons going forward.

"You lost that trade war," Harris said. "Farmers have experienced bankruptcy because of it. We are in a manufacturing recession because of it."

She's right. It's too bad Biden won't commit to stop fighting it.

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  1. Boehm didn’t get around to mentioning it, but the most compelling case against tariffs is simply this: they are bad for Charles Koch, the billionaire who funds Reason.com.

    Mr. Koch worked hard his entire life to become one of the top 10 richest people on the planet. And now during his twilight years he’s watched his fortune collapse to a pathetic $56.3 billion — barely enough to put him in the top 20. Only a Biden White House can return our benefactor to prosperity.

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    2. Tariffs are always bad. This is free market philosophy 101.

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  2. “Mike Pence Says Joe Biden Will Repeal Trump’s Tariffs. That’s a Good Idea!”

    I opposed Trump’s tariffs before he imposed them, when he imposed them, and I still oppose them now. But if you want to see Biden elected, associating him with repealing Trump’s tariffs isn’t a good idea.

    The outcome of this election will be decided in Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, western Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, where Trump’s tariffs and standing up to China remain popular with swing voters. I’m aware that those voters may have been negatively impacted by Trump’s tariffs the most, but that doesn’t necessarily make them unpopular.

    World War II veterans were the ones most negatively impacted by the war–they took the casualties. That doesn’t mean they’re the ones who are mostly likely to oppose World War II. To the contrary, people are often motivated by sunk costs fallacies that way. The steeper the price they pay, the more they think it’s worth.

    Everyone who wants to see President Trump reelected, be sure to go around telling everybody that if Biden gets rid of Trump’s tariffs, it’s a good thing. If that ever becomes a significant narrative, however, Biden will probably head it off and deny it outright. The Biden campaign doesn’t want to be associated with capitulation to China on trade any more than they want to be associated with arson, riots, and defunding the police. They’re too smart for that.

    1. Funny that the USW is supporting Biden in 2020. Now I know membership is not the same as their leadership but still all that pandering and that’s how they do him. But that’s what you get for getting in bed with Union/Industrial Policy scum.

      1. As I understand it, the IBEW is to.

        Still not as hilarious as the Mineworkers endorsing Obama, but you take what you can.

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  4. Maybe Biden will join the TPP now that it has been adopted by 11 other nations. It eliminated 18,000 tariffs on US made goods and the tariff loving Con Man hates it.

    1. Your ED problem has left you bitter. Maybe you and Kirkland can commiserate over zoom.

  5. “and the cost is borne—despite what Trump and his allies like to claim—entirely by American consumers and businesses.”

    Only if they continue to patronize the Communist Chinese.
    The purpose of tariffs is to make Communist Chinese products much more expensive so that people (real and corporate) will buy
    elsewhere.

    1. Please explain EU, Canada, South Korea, India, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico tariffs if the purpose is to punish China?

      1. Let’s start simple… do you know what the word retaliation means?

        To have an honest talk here, you have to first admit the other players in the game are also not free market idealists.

        The second part required for an honest discussion is to recognize game theory has been a valid application of trade and economics, recognized since the 60s.

        Arguing about an ideal state while ignoring reality is a silly thought process that serves no actual benefit to anyone.

        1. Sure I do. LtbF made no such claim, so why would I raise it?

          I don’t argue an ideal state. I’ll settle for adherence to the Constitution and its provision that all taxes must originate from the House. Or did I miss another super secret amendment to the Constitution?

          1. The House granted the president the power to impose these tariffs. It can revoke that power any time it chooses.

            So, obviously, Trump and the House agree that these tariffs should stay in place.

      2. “Please explain EU, Canada, South Korea, India, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico tariffs if the purpose is to punish China?”

        All have sinned! All must be punished!

        You forgot Vietnam! https://www.scmp.com/economy/global-economy/article/3104734/us-trade-deficit-vietnam-balloons-record-high-trump

        WHOEVER is successful must be PUNISHED!

        1. “WHOEVER is successful must be PUNISHED!”

          Same as with Democrats and punishing the rich with high taxes… Trump stole this idea from Democrats! Never mind that Chinese and Vietnamese people are dirt-poor compared to Americans, they must STILL be PUNISHED!

    2. The current value of tariffs is still less than the estimate corporate theft/fraud China participates in yearly. Apparently theft and fraud aren’t “Taxes on citizens” though. Sure they raise business costs, but we can ignore those.

      1. Does that “theft” include dumbass Big Tech trading their IP in exchange for access to China? I have yet to see that number not get lumped into the theft figure.

        1. That is almost entirely what the conservatives describe as “theft.” I don’t like it that China requires IP exchange for market access, but the companies that partner with Chinese firms choose to do comply. It’s none of the government’s business what they do with their own intellectual property.

          Besides, these are all just post hoc excuses. Trump’s stated goal was to lower the trade deficit. He’s failed. It’s time to end the stupid trade war.

          1. Besides, these are all just post hoc excuses. Trump’s stated goal was to lower the trade deficit. He’s failed. It’s time to end the stupid trade war.

            When Obama’s economic policy and spending like a drunken sailor failed to yield the promised result, the excuse was “the economy would have been even worse without it”. Let’s apply some of that reasoning here and keep the tariffs in place for another decade or two.

  6. Try as he might, Brain-Damaged Biden has a China problem.

    First, he voted for NAFTA.
    Second, his pivot to China as VP was a disaster.
    Third, his irresponsible spawn took CCP money for a hedge fund.

    Brain Damaged Biden would not ever stand up to the Chinese. Not in a million years. He’d bend over and ask, “How hard”.

    1. Yeah, the alternative being Trump bending us all over with his idiotic tariffs that just make us all pay more for no benefit.

      1. Oh no their is a “benefit”, the federal government gets more money!

        1. Well, I prefer the federal government get money from tariffs over getting it from income taxes. It’s economically far better.

    2. Try as he might, Brain-Damaged Biden has a China problem.

      First, he voted for NAFTA.

      Ummm….

  7. If we simply ignore China’s anti market practices, open theft, and other free trade violations… do they even exist?

    1. The Trump taxes (tariffs) will go away… 1) When all other nations practice perfectly free trade, and then just-only maybe, depending on exactly how Der TrumpfenFuhrer and Der JesseBahnFuhrer define perfectly free trade, or… 2) When Der TrumpfenFuhrer is deposed! The latter may likely be transmogrified into BidenFuhrer taxes (tariffs) in this latter event, sad to say…

      Let’s all behave better! You first! NO, YOU first! This is humans at their finest, as usual! Looking for a “fix” to that? Look neither to Der TrumpfenFuhrer, nor Der JesseBahnFuhrer, for ANY of THOSE kinds of fixes! Since they are both WAAAAY better than your average humans, the OTHER humans ALWAYS must fix themselves first!

      “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Jesus

      1. The Trump taxes (tariffs) will go away […] 2) When Der TrumpfenFuhrer is deposed [by China]

        See, you left out that little bit. And it looks like that’s about to happen, so you can rejoice.

    2. No Jesse, we have to counter them with our own anti-market practices of course.

      1. Our own anti-market practices are the driver behind trade with China: without massive money printing by the US government and massive increases in labor costs due to government regulations, there would be much less trade with China.

        I’m all for free trade with China, just as soon as we have free markets domestically.

        What I object to is being forced to subsidize the CCP’s plans for world domination with US tax dollars.

        1. “What I object to is being forced to subsidize the CCP’s plans for world domination with US tax dollars.”

          PLEASE enlighten us all and explain how this is happening! Something other than “you disagree with MEEEEE and so therefor you MUST be a MARXIST”?

          Now on the other hand, YOU and your fellow travelers, with your HUGE “punishment boners”; You insist that we MUST punish all who offend you REGARDLESS of the costs… YOU and your fellows of the “trade punishment boners”… YOU are making the rest of us PAY for YOUR punishments boners, via taxes/tariffs!

          Do you have ANYTHING factual and coherent, to justify your “trade war boner”?

          1. PLEASE enlighten us all and explain how this is happening!

            The US engages in massive programs designed to stimulate consumer spending, financed by a combination of taxes and debt. That consumer spending is in large part responsible for our trade deficit with China.

            Now on the other hand, YOU and your fellow travelers, with your HUGE “punishment boners”;

            I don’t care about “punishing” anyone, I just don’t want this country to turn into a shithole within the next few decades because emigrating from another leftist shithole is inconvenient.

            Something other than “you disagree with MEEEEE and so therefor you MUST be a MARXIST”?

            Your problem is just that you are an ignorant, privileged, greedy American, what socialists call a “useful idiot”.

  8. The vast majority of Americans have a favorable opinion of global trade.

    Libertarians for mobocracy!

  9. Trump promised he’d repeal some of U.S. Citizens Tariff’s (i.e. Taxes)… Oh yep, he ALREADY did.

    What is it about the left who want’s to give foreigners everything + hate on the USA… Why are they even in this country?

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