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Free Minds & Free Markets

No, We Aren't Going to Pay Off the National Debt With Tariff Revenue

Tariffs will generate $21 billion this year—just .01 percent of the national debt. And aren't these tariffs supposed to be about national security?

Officially, the Trump administration's position is that tariffs on aluminum and steel are a national security issue.

Unofficially, President Donald Trump has trotted out just about every imaginable justification for new taxes on imports, claiming that the tariffs are needed to create leverage for renegotiating trade deals, that they are meant to punish China for stealing American companies' intellectual property, even that they're a retaliation for Canada's decision to charge high import duties on American milk—as if that were something that would justify a potentially destructive trade war.

In a weekend tweetstorm, Trump raised the bar yet again in his race to offer the most ludicrous justification for his tariffs. Now he says they'll help the United States pay off the $21 trillion national debt.

It's amazing thing just how many falsehoods Trump manages to pack into roughly 500 characters.

No, the tariffs are not "working big time." If they were, the White House wouldn't be planning to spend $12 billion bailing out farmers who have been hurt by the trade war. Nor would thousands of companies be lining up at the Commerce Department to ask for exemptions from those tariffs. Indeed, the fact that Trump keeps flailing around for new arguments to justify his policy is a sign that his protectionist scheme is unraveling, both intellectually and diplomatically.

No, the tariffs are not paid by foreigners. Trump says he wants "every country on earth" to be taxed when they come to America to do business. But this is exactly the opposite of how tariffs work. When steel or aluminum is imported into America, the tariff inflates the product's price for whomever is buying it. That means the higher price is paid by American businesses purchasing the imported steel and aluminum to make nails, beer kegs, and lots of other things. Because tariffs are really just taxes, those higher costs are passed along to the consumer. If foreigners were paying those costs, why would American businesses seek those exemptions?

No, the tariffs do not mean "jobs and great wealth." Even protectionist think tanks like the Coalition for a Prosperous America say Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs will, on net, cost American jobs. The White House's own report on the tariffs, released in early June, showed that they would raise prices and slow economic growth. Businesses both large and small are already feeling the pain. Higher taxes are not a recipe for wealth creation and, again, tariffs are just taxes.

And now we get to the real whopper. No, we aren't going to pay down the national debt with tariffs. Not even close.

Before getting into the debt numbers, let's think for one more minute about how tariffs work. By increasing the price of imported goods, they are supposed to boost domestic manufacturing by reducing the imported competition. Trump wants to limit the amount of steel and aluminum into the country—supposedly for national security reasons—but he also wants to rely on steel and aluminum imports to pay off the debt?

Even if this made sense intellectually, it doesn't add up mathematically. The current tariffs on steel, aluminum, and some Chinese-made goods will generate an estimated $21 billion this year, according to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank. That's roughly 0.1 percent of the $21 trillion national debt.

Every little bit helps, of course, but there's no reason to believe the Trump administration is going to spend every red penny of tariff revenue on debt reduction. For one thing, there's already that $12 billion pledged to farmers injured by the trade war. If other industries successfully lobby for similar bailouts—and already that talk is beginning—the price tag would be $39 billion, according to an analysis that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce published last week. As a revenue question, that would put the tariffs in the red even before you take into consideration how they could reduce future growth.

That growth will be critical to any realistic shot at balancing the budget. Current projections, assuming generous rates of future growth with no slowdowns caused by tariffs or anything else, show $1 trillion annual deficits into the next decade. You can't begin paying off the national debt until you stop adding to it.

The national debt is an important topic—and, unlike imported metals, it actually is a threat to America's national security in the long term—so it's good to see an occupant of the White House talking about addressing it. But what he said isn't a serious suggestion, and surely even Trump realizes as much. It's just another half-baked attempt to retcon a justification for a trade war that will leave America poorer, less competitive, and less able to pay off the overdue bills on the national credit card.

Photo Credit: Ron Sachs/CNP/AdMedia/Newscom

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  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Trump is a goddamn fucking idiot.

    I know that is why John likes him.

  • JesseAz||

    Speaking of idiots...

    His tweet says help pay off, not pay off. Not sure why this article was written. Of they increase revenue by even a penny more than they cost, it helps pay down the debt. Full stop. The fact that the written had to twist this into a claim of helping significantly or paying it all off shows the derangement some people have on basic statements.

    Try uses hyperbolic language. Which politician doesn't?

    My god the outrage over nothing.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Of they increase revenue by even a penny more than they cost, it helps pay down the debt. Full stop.

    I'm sure you recognize that such a claim, however, would be misleading even if it is technically correct. One penny is so insignificant that it is not "helping" anything. Just like how if your community was building a new barn and you showed up just to hand a nail to someone, you couldn't claim to have "helped" build the barn even though you may have been technically accurate to say so.

    The point of the article is to show that not only is it an insignificant amount of revenue (the first part of the article), it also costs more money than it raises in the long run (the second part of the article).

  • shortviking||

    It costs more than a penny to make a penny so even that is actually a negative.

  • sarcasmic||

    When I sort my coins I set aside pre-1982 pennies. They're already worth two and a half cents in copper alone. Who knows what they'll be worth when my child grows to adulthood.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Inner child?

    Also, those rat bastard Canadians kept the copper in their pennies til ~2000, so don't just throw those fractional loonies away either.

  • Agammamon||

    1. Even if they tariffs generated more money than they cost they would still be immoral.

    2. They won't even come close to generating more money than they cost - if nothing else, the need to steal from Peter to keep Paul from bitching about being screwed over by his own government will guarantee that.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    The Paul's are a blessing to this country, you but your tongue.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Immoral? I don't think so. Every sovereign has the right to set the rules by which others are allowed to do within their sphere of control.

    And while tariffs are ecomincally stupid, I don't see how it's immoral for any sovereign to set those rules as they see fit.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Because taxation itself is immoral.

  • Johnny Lawrence||

    Right. I re-read Bastiat's "The Law" the other day, and it struck me how he identified The USA's two primary flaws as slavery and tariffs.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Yeah, it's always interesting to me that the moral relativists want to give the "founding fathers" a free pass for slavery because they didn't know any better back in the 18th and 19th centuries. Meanwhile, the libertarians of that age were all screaming against slavery, Bastiat being one of the more prominent ones.

  • shortviking||

    Are you talking about Paul Krugman?

  • Cathy L||

    His tweet says help pay off, not pay off.

    I love the Trump-suckers who come here and just lie to your face. The tweet is right up there, people! It actually said the tariffs would "start paying down large amounts of the $21 Trillion in debt."

  • Nardz||

    $21 billion is a large amount.
    It didn't say majority

  • Hidebehindyourcause||

    Trump-suckers are a little annoying at times, but I'd rather them vice an annoying prog

  • ancestrialLocke||

    The keyword is 'start' and not actually do. I might start my housework today but that does't mean I will finish it. Do you know how to speak and understand english?

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    Fun fact: Dipshit Dave spent Barack Obama Day Saturday jerking off to his fading old Shepherd Fairy "Hope" poster for the three thousandth time.

  • Cy||

    As they say in Ebonix, Cyrus, "We be fucked."

  • ||

    Larry Kudlow did a great piece on NPR's marketplace on Fri. Two highlights:

    I like Kai Ryssdal, but hearing "Now, don't class warfare me or anything like that." on NPR was hilarious.

    "Kudlow: He [The President] is a free trader. He is, you know, he and I worked out again: zero tariffs, zero barriers, zero subsidies. I can't be any clearer.

    Ryssdal: Is that what winning the trade war looks like?

    Kudlow: Well I think so, ultimately if we can get to that point, of zero tariffs or close to it and barriers, yes, that would be a tremendous win, and look, to me that would be incredibly pro growth."

    Again, Trump says tariffs will be used to pay down the debt and Reason's well-reasoned response is "You'll never pay off the entire debt!"

    Fuck you, cut spending.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    So tariffs only costs Americans $21 Billion but Trump tariffs ARE THE END OF THE US ECONOMY?

    Make up your mind.

    "Every little bit helps, of course, but there's no reason to believe the Trump administration is going to spend every red penny of tariff revenue on debt reduction"

    Jesus Christ, Congress NOT TRUMP decides where US treasury money goes.

  • Shirley Knott||

    And Congress, not Trump, controls most tariffs and trade restrictions.
    Which renders your constant refrain of "Trump offered them free trade" rather mendacious.
    Fake offer. Sad.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    You haven't been paying attention Shirley. Through the magic of "National Security" anything is possible with Trump!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It scares you too Leo. Trump is doing more that improves America than any other president in a long long time.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Unilaterally even! Just as the founders intended.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Founders had managed some tariffs to cover the costs of the tiny federal government.

    Trump offered free trade.

    We can amend the Constitution too. Its this great provision that the Founders created.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    My point is that the Founders never would have accepted an all-powerful President, to whom Congress cedes much of their powers. That's exactly what has happened here with these tariffs, in the name of "National Security"

    Is your contention that this is in fact what the Founders intended?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Trump is not even close to an "all-powerful" president. You just lied.

    Congress gave the power to negotiate tariffs to the president. Makes sense. A CEO negotiates stuff like that. Sometimes, you need to get the Board's approval. Trump got Congress' approval already.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Nice evasion, as per usual.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    The legal basis cited in Trump's tariff order is Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 which under certain circumstances allows the president to impose tariffs based on the recommendation from the U.S. Secretary of Commerce if "an article is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten or impair the national security."[38] This section is rarely used,[38] and has never been invoked since the World Trade Organization was established in 1995.[39] Source

    Do you deny that Congress ceded their "Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises" to the President in 1962 as I claimed?

    Do you deny that Trump has invoked the boogyman of "National Security" to invoke these tariffs?

    Do you think this is how the Founders intended it to be?

  • Jerryskids||

    Congress gave me the power to come over there and kick the shit out of you, you maggoty little chicken fucking retard.

  • Jerryskids||

    A reply to lc, don't know why it showed up here.

  • Jerryskids||

    Who the fuck broke the "reply to this" button? It don't work.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Once the thread gets replied to enough times the threading feature (indent) stops working.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Jerryskids|8.6.18 @ 11:49AM|#
    A reply to lc, don't know why it showed up here.


    The website saw your stupid comment and decided to fuck you over.

  • ||

    My point is that the Founders never would have accepted an all-powerful President, to whom Congress cedes much of their powers. That's exactly what has happened here with these tariffs, in the name of "National Security"

    I don't disagree with this assessment, but I think you're conflating two issues. The Founders would've disapproved of a standing army and a President taking any and all unilateral action on principle and would've likely opposed it on those grounds alone. Otherwise, Madison and Hamilton (depending on whom all you consider to be the FF) successfully passed the Tariff of 1789-90. Madison himself wanted to focus the Tariffs on British imports but was unsuccessful at doing so.

    They may've opposed the means by which the tariffs were enacted, but they didn't inherently oppose tariffs or even selective taxation of imports at such levels.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Yes, I agree, and that was intended to be the focus of my post on this thread.... the means with which they were enacted.

    There's no doubt that tariffs were a major source of funding the early government.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Leo, Trump is more restrained and has shown more respect for constitutional limits than Obama ever did.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    I would have agreed with you prior to this non-sense with the tariffs. Now I'm not sure.

    If the goal for Presidential restraint is just to be slightly better than Obama, then we are certainly doomed as a country.

  • Agammamon||

    I'm not sure how increasing prices for things I buy is helping me.

    I'm not sure how then *stealing money directly from me* to pay off a favored constituency is helping me.

    So, please - I've asked you before - explain (or at least point to a coherent source) how tariff's and a trade war are in my best interest. Not some vague 'American collective' interest - that's just an excuse to pick my pocket for some politician's gain - but actually in the interest of the average American individual.

    Because if Trump really had my best interests in heart, if he had the best interests of Americans as a whole, he'd just get rid of tariff barriers altogether on the American side. The whole 'paper dollars are leaving the US in exchange for goods and services' panic is idiotic. The *point* of an economy is to get me goods and services and living in a tin shack with no running water, tv, car, etc is still living in poverty no matter how many billions I have in the bank.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Yeah, yo usar this same shit every time. Then one of us explains the facts to you and it goes nowhere.

    We get it. You want to buy cheap shit from foreigners as cheap as possible. You also don't care if our domestic industries our destroyed by the predatory practices of foreign countries. After all, fuck them, their jobs, and their lives, because you just got another 5% off some cheap goods from Wall-Mart, right?

    That isn't libertarian, thats just you being a cheap asshole who doesn't give a fuck about anyone else.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Definitions of libertarianism from half-educated, bigoted, disaffected, right-wing losers are always great to have.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    The right has higher IQs and better education than you progtarded cunts.

  • EscherEnigma||

    We get it. You want to buy cheap shit from foreigners as cheap as possible. You also don't care if our domestic industries our destroyed by the predatory practices of foreign countries. After all, fuck them, their jobs, and their lives, because you just got another 5% off some cheap goods from Wall-Mart, right?


    Um, what?

    When did that stop being a standard Libertarian position? Government interfering to "protect" domestic companies was the subject of much scorn for years and years, and anyone complaining about outsourcing or Wal-Mart was attacked as a statist slaver.

    When did that all change?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Congress gave the Executive Branch power to work tariffs. The Executive could also end some other trade restrictions.

    Congress would have to end all remaining trade restrictions by law.

    The EU would also have to seek Legislative action so its not an overnight process. China would have to get the Communist Party's approval, I am sure.

    I know that you are scared that Trump could get a promise from trading partners to free trade and it would be TRUMP that did it.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    I know that you are scared that Trump could get a promise from trading partners to free trade and it would be TRUMP that did it.

    It's not that Trump could potentially reduce trade barriers that worries people. It's all the damage that his trade restrictions along the way WILL cause (and have already), along with the uncertainty that his strategy will actually work in the end. We know the result of the means and the ends are uncertain at best.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Thats not what worries them. Most of the people bitching (1) HATE TRUMP (2) Have TDS (3) hate America (4) actually want the US economy to tank to hurt Trump (5) actually want the US economy to tank to hurt the GOP in election 2018 and 2020....

    Freedom isnt free. Sometimes you have to sacrifice to fight government to protect your rights.

    Sometimes you have to sacrifice to get managed trade closer to free trade.

    The status quo was not good the USA. A trade war is not good for the USA. Higher tariffs are not good for the USA. Lower trade restrictions are good for the USA.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Thats not what worries them.

    Who are you to speak for the motives of your opponents in the debate? I believe the proper term for this is an "appeal to motive" fallacy (a form of ad hominem).

    Sometimes you have to sacrifice to get managed trade closer to free trade.

    And isn't it brave of Trump to decide who gets to sacrifice the most? It's good that we have the right central planner in place, isn't it?

  • Shirley Knott||

    Oh, lc1789 has perfect telepathy, clairvoyance, and clairaudience.
    He can infallibly read the motives, true thoughts and desires, of everyone.
    He knows exactly what Trump is doing and why. He knows exactly how it will work out if the wreckers and leftists and faux-libertarians will just shut up and learn to march in ranks.
    He is the sole arbiter on identity, thought, motive, and political leaning of everyone, and thus stands as the absolute authority on who is and who is not a libertarian.

    We expect him to take up the Scotsman question as soon as he wins the trade 'war'.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You people dont even listen to what Trump says and you certainly dont pay attention to why he does certain things.

    Your TDS blinds you.

    Trump probably wont get the USA and trading partners to 100% free trade. The EU and China are two authoritarian to do that. He will get lower trade restrictions than pre-Trump and probably substantially lower trade restrictions.

    Trump will be successful again and y'all will be left scratching your heads and foaming at the mouth again.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Citation needed.

    It must make things so simple for you. You never have to analyze or draw distinctions or parse nuance. Everything comes down to 100% approval for Trump or 100% condemnation.
    You don't make arguments, you don't grapple with the arguments of others.
    You just go all-on on Trump and ad hominem for everyone not in lockstep with you.
    Sad.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Citation on what goober? My opinion?

    Jesus, you are retarded.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    It's just painful watching these fools spew their trade idiocy here. As if it's beneficial for one sided protectionism against America. Just bizarre.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    But you fail to address the point that I've made earlier that the ends here don't justify the means.

    Why would you accept central planning in the economy, knowing (presumably) full well what economists throughout history have warned about it, just to get China to lower trade restrictions? Reason has been chronicling the damage done by these tariffs to upset the market (and put people out of business) and your only response seems to be that they need to suck it up for the team. That's precisely what central planners throughout all of history have said, straight down from Stalin and his attacks on the Kulaks.

    And for what? For the hopes that Trump might make it slightly better for big business, the little guys need to suck it up?

  • Jerryskids||

    I don't have TDS, I have TSDS - Trump Supporter Derangement Syndrome. Imagine for one minute that Obama were doing the things Trump is doing. Would you be reassuring us that he knows what he's doing and we should trust him, that no matter how dangerous what he's doing looks, he's got it all under control? Of course not, you'd be damning him to hell for his stupidity. And why? Because Obama's an idiot and Trump's a very stable genius with a very good brain. IOW, it's all a matter of having the right Top Men in charge. You and your kind don't have a problem with collectivism and a top-down authoritarian government, as long as it's the right kind. We know where that goes, the inevitable failure is blamed on not having the right Top Men in charge, it's never a systemic failure at fault.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    "Who are you to speak for the motives of your opponents in the debate?"

    He is the one who is correct. As am I. And it isn't a huge leap either.

    "And isn't it brave of Trump to decide who gets to sacrifice the most?"

    No, it isn't abut bravery. He's the president. This is part of what presidents are supposed to deal with. And he isn't the central planner. That would be all these protectionist nations that must be pressure into dropping THEIR centrally planned trade restrictions.

    The way all you people bitch is like blaming a battered spouse for finally fighting back against the abuse. Saying she's better off meekly taking the beating.

  • Agammamon||

    Sometimes you have to sacrifice to fight government to protect your rights.

    That's an individual decision - otherwise that's just another right someone else is taking from you and justifying it as 'for the greater good'.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    You're the one who likes things set up for the taking, selfish asshole.

  • Agammamon||

    No, I'm scared that Trump is doing exactly what needs to be done to increase the amount of management in trade - and that even if he keeps the amount of management the same he'll do this by decreasing the amount of trade.

    Because he's not a free-trader. He's never supported free-trade. If he did he'd just get rid of American government created blocks to free trade. Nothing puts pressure on a foreign government to go hands-off than their citizens seeing another major government doing so. If the US went free-trade, all the other countries would be scrambling to explain to their pissed off populations why they have to pay extra for imported goods.

    Instead he's giving every control freak in government exactly what they need to justify another power grab.

    Just

    As

    Planned.

  • ||

    It's amazing thing just how many falsehoods Trump manages to pack into roughly 500 characters.

    I'm still of the opinion that none of these statements are actual lies, since he almost certainly really believes what he tweets.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Trump's depth of knowledge can only be matched by the character limit of his favorite sounding board.

  • Jerryskids||

    I'm still of the opinion that Trump really doesn't lie because he doesn't really know or care what he's saying. It's random trolling.

  • Agammamon||

    The problem is that he believes what he tweets until the next person puts a thought in his head that makes him say 'oh! That might stick to the wall' and then tweets that thing that contradicts his last tweet.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Can we ship our soybeans to Israel and Egypt where they can turn it into tofu for export to China and the EU?

  • Echospinner||

    Don't even need to do that. Just sell it to a buyer in Argentina who sells it to China and change shipping labels.

  • MiloMinderbinder||

    What if we had a revenue-neural replacement of the Personal and Corporate Income Tax with a flat revenue tariff?

    The cost of administering the tax would plummet. We'd save all the time, money and resources currently spent on gaming the system. And it would be a giant step forward for privacy.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    I think the best hope for freedom is to greatly reduce spending first, with the goal that we can flatten and lower the current income tax structure. A national sales tax or tariff system to replace the income tax would never be accepted in a democracy where roughly half of the voters are net takers. You have to change that first.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    The cost in administering the tax isn't the dominant cost here, not by a long shot. Redistributing the tax only serves to redistribute wealth. It doesn't end the net drain on the economy.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    Privacy? Read about how the early US admins would search all Americans coming back from Europe to collect duties due on European goods. Strip searches aren't new.

  • Happy Chandler||

    Propose a giant tax increase on working class people and a giant tax cut for Bezos, Buffett, Gates, etc. See how popular that is.

    Watch how iPhone prices shoot to over $2000 for a base model.

    See how popular a party is if that ever comes to pass. The Trump tax cut is already an albatross, in the way it took Bush a few years to see his cuts go south.

  • Agammamon||

    iTards would still pay it uncomplaining.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    All taxes like tarrifs should be ideally zero. Meaning any real tax cut which allows citizens to keep more of their money should always be seen as a net positive.

    Conversely, any increase in taxing whether through regulations or tarrifs is almost always going to be a net loss.

    So not sure which Bush tax cuts you dislike of why Trump's proposed cuts are an 'albatross', but more people keeping more from the fruits of their labors is expanding freedom - always a net good. Always.

  • Happy Chandler||

    I'm talking politically.
    http://insider.foxnews.com/201.....duce-taxes

    Republicans have been trying for decades the trickle-down strategy. Meanwhile, the Trump voters see the rich getting richer and them falling further and further behind. They thought they were voting for something new. Instead, they got warmed over Bushonomics.

  • Agammamon||

    Why a tariff on foreign made goods and not a VAT on all goods.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    I hope we end the trade war soon, on general principle, but it will be interesting to hear my progressive neighbors explain how taxes reduce the country's wealth so much that the revenue sent to the feds goes down.

  • JesseAz||

    When were we not in trade wars? We've always had tarriffs and other countries vice versa. This didn't start with trump.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    "Because of Tariffs we will be able to start paying down large amounts of the $21 Trillion in debt that has been accumulated, much by the Obama Administration, while at the same time reducing taxes for our people."

    We can tax their incomes less by taxing their consumption more! BRILLIANT!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Domestic consumption is not subject to tariffs.

    Only international consumption is affected.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    And that makes it preferable because 'Merica First... right?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It was to illustrate your false statement.

    Some consumption costs more some doesn't.

    Non-American countries could end all these tariffs tomorrow by ending trade restrictions.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    My statement wasn't false. I didn't say that he was taxing their domestic consumption. I merely stated that he was taxing their consumption, which presumably includes a lot of international consumption given the "yuge" trade deficit that Trump likes to tout.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Leo Kovalensky II|8.6.18 @ 10:28AM|#
    [...]
    We can tax their incomes less by taxing their consumption more!

    You didnt separate consumption based on domestic and international trade on purpose.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    I don't accept the false premise that they need to be separated.

  • Zeb||

    An observation: if Trump is willing to end all of the tariffs tomorrow if other countries drop trade restrictions and tariffs, that would suggest that the national security justification is complete bullshit and the tariffs were illegitimate in the first place. If steel and aluminum tariffs are necessary for national security, then they would be so regardless of other countries' trade policies.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I dont really pay attention to the 'national security' claims because most are 100% BS.

    I think politicians are mostly liars so 'national security' (protecting the USA from ISIS) is not the same thing as calling strategic steel manufacturing ability 'national security'.

    Like 'terrorism', the phrase 'national security' is misused and overused.

    I think Trump is throwing out anything to keep support for fighting this trade war. I plan on giving Trump 12 months to win this trade war or return the USA to pre-Trump trade restriction levels or lower. I dont really care what political excuses he uses and I really dont want him giving away his complete plan.

    The EU cracked in less than 5 weeks, so it might work but I dont expect to get much lower trade restrictions than pre-Trump. The Socialists of Europe and China are too scared of free market.

  • Happy Chandler||

    National Security is the legal basis of the tariffs. If it is not for national security, they are illegal.

    The EU did not crack. They offered nothing other than a photo op. There was not one thing given. They promised to buy more soybeans. Duh, the prices of US soybeans have cratered since the tariffs went up. Moreover, no agreement has been signed. When they went into negotiations, Trump said that he was going to impose more tariffs. The EU said if you impose more tariffs, then we will retaliate. Trump backed down, and the EU didn't have to retaliate. No barriers were removed, however.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Wow, I guess we should just cover in place and beg al these countries to not level any more tariffs at us. Clearly, according to you, each one of them clearly holds al the cards and we must dare not anger them lest they punish the helpless USA.

    That's you. Thats how you sound.

    But then, you say stupid shit.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    If they want to raise taxes on the goods their citizens buy, then we should raise taxes on the goods that OUR citizens buy!

    Libertarians for individual liberty unite!

  • Happy Chandler||

    No, I think that taxing US citizens to get other countries to stop taxing their own citizens is stupid.

    Them taxing their citizens does not punish the US.

  • KennethJohnKelly||

    They didn't even promise to buy more soybeans. They merely promised not to target US soybeans with retaliatory tariffs (US soybeans currently enter the EU duty-free).

  • MWG||

    No. It absolutely affects domestic consumption by increasing the price of inputs to goods produced in the US.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It can but the USA can produce most resources in the USA. Some inputs are far cheaper from foreign nations or can only be obtained by foreign nations.

  • Happy Chandler||

    The domestic prices adjust to the limited competition. The industries chosen by the government get a boost at the expense of the industries not chosen and all consumers.

    When did the government picking winners and losers become a good thing?

  • Agammamon||

    Yes the US can - but since a lot of producers *choose* to get their inputs from outside of the country that should tell you that they have an incentive to do so.

    In other words, these inputs can be produced less expensively in other countries. Otherwise they would just buy domestic.

    But you just brush that off -

    It can but the USA can produce most resources in the USA

    - as if it were unimportant.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Is sweatshop labor considered an input?

  • Happy Chandler||

    Are you suggesting a worldwide labor standards protection organization? Sounds great to me!

  • ||

    We can tax their incomes less by taxing their consumption more! BRILLIANT!

    Taxation is theft but it's not at all unheard of for libertarians to regard sales tax as more moral/less immoral than income tax. Moreover, there's a decent question as to what a disparate sales tax based on others' adherence/observance of the Constitution/BOR would look like and/or where libertarians would stand on such an issue.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    A consumption tax (sales, tariff, or otherwise) that is equally applied is what most libertarians who prefer that tax scheme have in mind. A consumption tax that is levied non-uniformly by a central planner is most certainly NOT a libertarian ideal.

    Trump's current scheme is certainly the latter and not the former.

  • Cy||

    The 'exemptions' from tariffs the Fed has been giving out are clear cases of crony-capitalism. I'm surprised there hasn't been more public outrage.

  • ||

    I don't exactly disagree with this.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Tariffs are pure crony capitalism.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Unless they are being used as a negotiation tactic.

  • Agammamon||

    Even then. You might have noticed that its politically favored industries that are getting the 'protection' of a tariff and the bailouts to help protect against foreign retaliation.

    While the rest of us are left standing here holding our dicks because our shit is being taken to enrich the cronies.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Damn right. What's important is you getting your stuff cheaper even if american industry has to die for you to get that extra 5% off.

  • Paloma||

    American industry doesn't have to die, it just has to sell things more competitively. I don't buy a product just to give some yahoo from Kentucky a job or make sure he makes a "living wage."

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    How do you compete against a Chinese company that will receive any necessary subsidies to make sure the American company goes out of business?

  • Happy Chandler||

    You compete or your find a better product. Why shouldn't other companies take advantage of China, in effect, giving the US money by subsidizing their goods for us?

    Alternatively, you make a a case to the WTO (which the US has the best success rate at) and retaliate to that country.

    What you don't do is throw taxes on every person in the US to protect a few chosen industries, screw the rest, and set up a capricious exemption process where people are thinking the way to get an exemption is to bribe the politicians, which it's easy to do because the President has an opaque business and keeps his finances private, the commerce secretary has hidden investments and there are no hard rules. This is what is bringing us closest to Venezuela -- the administration setting up the rules for their own personal gain.

  • Fats of Fury||

    Yeah. Let's go for the Argentine model.
    1. Borrow more and more for cheap foreign crap with ever decreasing valueless dollars.
    2. ?
    3. Profits.

  • Happy Chandler||

    Argentina fixed their currency to the US dollar. Currency pegs crash spectacularly. Whether it's dollars, gold, or something else, it's a mistake to give up control of the currency.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Or we can just strong arm them into backing off. Problem solved.

  • Fats of Fury||

    Right. You prefer higher taxes to pay for Kentucky Yahoo's unemployment and welfare benefits.

  • ||

    A consumption tax that is levied non-uniformly by a central planner is most certainly NOT a libertarian ideal.

    Free trade between China and Europe, sitting between The Great Chinese Firewall and the EU's creeping GDPR/'right to be forgotten' isn't exactly the libertarian ideal either.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Two wrongs don't make a right.

  • ||

    Don't bring a knife to a gun fight. Even by the rational, secular moralism embodied by game theory and/or the prisoner's dilemma you know they other members of the group are ratting you out and/or defecting. At best, you know groups to be irrational and are expecting rational behavior out of them.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    China and EU can lower and/or end trade restrictions and this trade war will be over.

    Its all Trump's fault for starting this trade war going on for decades.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    LC, how can so many of these people be this stupid? No wonder the LP can't get it's shit together.

  • Zeb||

    Yes, people only disagree about things because they are stupid.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Some things, yes. And this is one of them.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The LP is infested with Anarchists and Lefties trying to stall any Libertarian movement.

    You cant have Libertarians ending welfare, paying down debt, and fighting for free market via market pressure.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Most of them arent Libertarians anyway. They act concerned about 'free trade' but they dont want free trade.

    Some of the people dont like America, so any position that puts the USA in a weak position is good for them.

    having America be at a market disadvantage in all the managed trade deals has partly caused the USA to-be in debt up to our asses. Most of the debt comes from social security, medicare, and military. The government money from that welfare gets spent a lot in China to buy cheap shit.

    No faster way to destroy the USA than let us have a debt bubble burst.

    The USA standing up for itself is just bad news for China and the EU.

  • TGoodchild||

    Obvious tariff implementation to coerce ultimate reduction or elimination of tariffs on U.S. goods is obvious.

    It is perplexing that these and other Trump articles make such sweeping conclusions on policy decisions while criticizing his incoherence. You either take everything he says dead-seriously as gospel (why would you?), or you don't.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    They hate hate Trump. They hate the USA.

    Trump is trying something to get lower trade restrictions. They hate that as less managed trade means less government power.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I dislike Trump intensely.

    I blame my education, economic success, preference for reason and progress, and character.

    I like America.

    Especially the progress that liberals and libertarians have been generating against the efforts of right-wingers.

    Today, the culture war consists mostly of conservatives whining and moaning about losing to their betters.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    You're a racist idiot.

  • Shirley Knott||

    You really do have a bizarre binary view of the world.
    It is possible to think Trump is economically illiterate without hating him.
    It is possible to think America is not perfect without hating it.
    You do your "position" no favors by wildly lumping anyone who disagrees in the slightest into 'they hate Trump, they hate America."

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Don't forget that they're all lefties too

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Not everyone is a Lefty.

    Its easy to tell from what people say whether they are lefties.

    If you disagree that higher tariffs will get the USA freer trade, that does not make you a Lefty per se

    If Trump's managed trade is worse than Obama's managed trade, you might be a Lefty.

    If you dont want America to ever try and better its trade position or become freer via some hardship, you probably dont like America.

  • ||

    It is possible to think Trump is economically illiterate without hating him.

    Not to disagree with you or put words in your mouth exactly, but I think this is still a mistake. Depending on whom you're holding up in opposition, he's not economically illiterate. Here's just a small list of people who are empirically, via credentialism, and principally more economically illiterate than Trump:

    Hillary Clinton
    Bernie Sanders
    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
    Barack Obama
    George Bush

    Krugman, Gruber, Weld... all technically college-educated Economists too.

  • Shirley Knott||

    There are many worthy of contempt for economic illiteracy.
    Some of them are perhaps worthy of hatred.
    I was not seeking to rank them, merely to point out lc1789's inability to see anything between full approval of Trump in every detail and hatred of the man. He, of course, is the standard, and ultimate arbiter of what counts as full approval of Trump.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Knott, has numerous plans to get the USA to free trade with our Socialist trading partners.

    What were those plans again?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    See Knott, your conflating Trump's strategy to negotiate better trade for the USA via pressure (tariffs) as that he is economically illiterate.

    You're saying that he knows nothing about economics. You're wrong.

    Because you take such a ridiculous position that Trump cannot possibly know anything about economics makes you a TDS sufferer, it would seem.

  • Tony||

    He has an (R) after his name. Thus math is irrelevant, same with morality and the lives of foreigners.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    For you that same sentence applies, just change the R to a D. You are a fanatical slave to your progressive masters.

    You truly excel at hypocrisy.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Luckily, Hillary lost really bad to Trump (R).

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    For all the things these people bitch about here, The Hag would have given them so much to scream about.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    And we weren't going to have peace with the Norks by calling their leader short and fat. LET THE MAN WORK HIS MAGIC.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Trump's random magic got numerous Korean War American MIAs remains, returned to the USA.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""Tariffs will generate $21 billion this year—just .01 percent of the national debt""

    When was the last time any amount of money went to pay the principle of our debt?

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    What's more telling is that the $21 billion in additional funds are less than the spending increases Trump signed into law this year. So it's not even going to cover the new spending for this year, let alone make a dent in any outstanding debt.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    When was the last time anyone made a dent in the outstanding debt?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    After WWII but the USA has carried debt for most of our history.

    The last 40 years with varying (R) and (D) presidents and Congress' increased debt by Trillions.

    Booosh add $5 Trillion and Obama added $7 Trillion.

  • ||

    When was the last time any amount of money went to pay the principle of our debt?

    I'm legitimately asking because I have a friend who, before the Obama Presidency, was certain that the debt would never become a national-stage issue: When was the last time a *sitting* President even paid lip service to reducing the debt?

  • KennethJohnKelly||

    Bill Clinton, in 2000, when he suggested that the debt owed to the public could be eliminated by 2013.
    Coping with surpluses

  • Mithrandir||

    The last time we issued new debt probably.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Probably not. We do pay interest on the debt, but I've never heard of a payment towards the principle. So I'm asking. Even a token payment that is erased by a deficit would count as long as the intent it to put something towards the principle.

  • Happy Chandler||

    Bonds are regularly paid off by funds raised by the issuance of new bonds. The principle of the old bonds is paid off all the time. It's a meaningless statement. It's not like your mortgage, where you have one loan from one lender.

  • Just Say'n||

    "Bonds are regularly paid off by funds raised by the issuance of new bonds."

    For states and local governments, this is known as a "bad budgeting practice". Sovereign states who employ this same strategy are dinged by rating agencies and pay a higher interest rate.

    But, nothing matters if you have the world's reserve currency and the world's most impressive military

  • ||

    For states and local governments, this is known as a "bad budgeting practice".

    ^ This.

    It's the government-level version of using one credit card to pay off another.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    """Bonds are regularly paid off by funds raised by the issuance of new bonds.""'

    Ah yes. That's what Mithrandir was referring to.

    I still don't think that counts for my purpose because borrowing money to pay for money borrowed isn't paying anything down.

  • Happy Chandler||

    It has nothing to do with that. Every country that has debts in its own currency does the same thing. Japan's debts are way bigger than ours, and they can buy inflation.

    Companies do the same thing. Even if they have cash reserves, they issue bonds to pay off their other bonds. It's called finance.

    You know what we'd get if we paid off our debt? Really, nothing. A stable debt to GDP is generally the goal, so the nominal debt will grow even if it's shrinking as percent of GDP. A 30 year t-bill is at 3.09%. The debt is no problem.

  • Dan S.||

    Who writes the headlines (or subheads) on these articles? The text of the piece correctly says that the $21 billion in tariffs is 0.1% of the $21 trillion national debt. But the second line of this story's heading incorrectly says it is .01%. The position of that decimal point makes a difference.

  • CE||

    The debt may be closer to 200 trillion by now though.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    If we become Venezuela, we can just start lopping off zeros. Fingers crossed!

  • ||

    The debt may be closer to 200 trillion by now though.

    If you count things like unfunded obligations as debt, roll it together at both the State and Federal level, it's closer to true than false.

    Would the Federal government let (e.g.) Illinois go into bankruptcy? If no, then all kinds of pensions and healthcare that have been promised to state employees becomes debt unfunded obligations.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Another illuminating gathering of Libertarians For Tariffs and Protectionism.

    Bigoted Right-Wing Yahoo chapter.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    *Yawn*

    did you say something bitch?

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Yep - it's just 'the Rev'. Treat him as you would that odd great uncle who's always spoutting racist/conspiratorial nonsense, while everyone else wonders if he's a pedophile.

    That's our Rev - an old racist idiot with likely pedophile tendencies.

  • Dillinger||

    >>>But what he said isn't a serious suggestion, and surely even Trump realizes as much.

    I haven't been around a ton lately. Is freaking on tweets what you guys do now, or is this a one-off?

  • BYODB||

    While Trump is obviously wrong on tariffs in many ways, what I really want to know is can we run the FedGov off of just tariff 'revenue'?

  • chipper me timbers||

    Yes but not as it is currently of course.

  • David Nolan||

    Is Trump finally keeping his campaign promise, to pay off the entire debt in 8 years?
    If my math is right, that means tariffs on everything we import, at 3,720%
    MAGA!

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Are you saying I'm going to have to start drinking *domestic* bottled water??!

  • Just Say'n||

    "No tariffs won't eliminate the national debt"

    Now do tax cuts and the deficit

  • chipper me timbers||

    It's amazing to me how many "libertarians" on this supposedly libertarian website are fully in favor of using government force to make me pay more for iPhones and car tires and beer kegs etc. This is literally the exact opposite of libertarian belief. It's like I'm in the evil Spock mirror universe.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You were already paying more for iPhones and car tires under the managed trade scheme pre-Trump.

    Its very Libertarian to negotiate a business deal and when you trade outside the USA, the Constitution allows Congress and the president to set the rules.

    A Libertarian would want free trade and Trump offered free trade to our trading partners.

  • chipper me timbers||

    Steel vendor: I'll sell you this steel for $X

    Me: great! I'll do it.

    Tariff man: Not so fast! You have to pay me 20% of the transaction fee because the vendor is from China. These armed men will shoot you if you don't comply.

    VERY libertarian.

  • Just Say'n||

    Employer: I'll pay you $X for your labor

    Me: great! I'll do it.

    IRS: Not so fast! You have to pay me 20% of your income because the employer is in the US. These armed men will shoot you if you don't comply.

    VERY libertarian.

    It's as if people want to pretend like tariffs aren't a tax and therefore people can straddle the fence between opposing tax cuts without spending reductions while laughing at people who want to use tariff revenues to reduce debt. You both sound very dumb

  • sarcasmic||

    Trump: "If you stop taxing consumers of imports, we'll stop taxing Americans who buy imports."

    Trading Partners: "Nope."

    Trump: "Oh yeah? Well I'm gonna jack up taxes on Americans who buy imports! Take that!"

    Trade war: When governments compete over which one can do a better job of screwing over its own people.

  • Happy Chandler||

    I thought the problem was that China was dumping steel, ie selling below cost. Now you're saying that we were paying too much? You can't keep your post hoc justifications straight.

  • Cathy L||

    You were already paying more

    What do Trumpkins think "more" means?

  • sarcasmic||

    According to lc1789 free trade means zero tariffs on both sides, and the existence of any tariffs equals a trade war. He loves the false dichotomy fallacy.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    He never said anything like that.

    Why are you such a raving idiot? Is it repeated to problems with self control? You appear to be someone who has issues controlling themselves.

  • sarcasmic||

    Actually he has. Many times. According to him there has always been a trade war because there have always been tariffs. Those are his words. He has also said that it's only free trade if both sides do it.

  • Just Say'n||

    "Free trade" is a myth, which is what has been exposed in this whole experience. You cannot achieve an elimination of tariffs in totality from all sides.

    So, if we all agree that what we're really talking about is managed trade deals with lower tariffs on certain products while maintaining protective tariffs on other products, I think we can have a more constructive conversation.

    And then the argument becomes whether it is better for the US to impose tariffs to protect intellectual property and agriculture to the detriment of manufacturing. That's really what the discussion should be centered around.

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    The sarcasmic philosophy is that it's not a war if you surrender immediately and unilaterally disarm. It's only a war if you have the nerve to fight back, not when the other guys do it to you.

    Thank goodness sarcasmic wasn't the Allied Supreme Commander during World War II. Europe would probably STILL be under the control of the Nazis!

  • sarcasmic||

    Except that in a trade war the government's cannons are pointed at its own people.

    In a trade war the government's offensive weapon is to tax citizens who want to buy stuff at the lowest price. All three hundred million plus of them. Sure a few thousand benefit by having their jobs protected from foreign competition, but the masses are the ones who feel the opportunity cost of not having money left over after buying stuff.
    Additionally these tariffs negate comparative advantage by encouraging domestic industry to make things that could be made more cheaply abroad. This diverts resources that could be used for things were we have the comparative advantage.

    The logical conclusion of a trade war is to embargo your own ports. If done by anyone else it is an act of war, but when a government does it to itself it is protectionism.

  • vek||

    It's not thousands of jobs buddy... It's many, many millions.

    If we had a comparable percentage of our workforce still working in manufacturing as Germany or Japan does, we would have 20-30 MILLION more people working in manufacturing. These aren't glamorous 6 figure jobs generally, but they're better than the minimum wage barista/burger flipper/service jobs that have supposedly been the great replacement for outsourcing everything.

    Lame ass countries like Italy, Spain, France, etc all have stronger manufacturing sectors than we do too! It's a joke. Manufacturing is still an integral part of any nations economy for the time being. Maybe it won't be in 50 years, but it is still important now, and we completely threw it under the bus for no good reason.

    You can argue this shit on a moral/philosophical level. I think that is legitimate, as in people have a right to buy what they want... However the current situation with how out of hand we've let it become has undoubtedly greatly hurt the US economy and standard of living here IMO. Our leaders should have demanded China/other open up in order to gain access to our market DAY ONE. Trying to correct this after we've become integrated is a bitch, but will be worth it if we pull it off.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Sarcasmic, well put.

  • Iheartskeet||

    First, pointing out the imperfections of Free Trade now does not mean that yet further imperfections are justified. Just because say, gun laws, are far from perfect now, doesn't mean that more crappy laws are justified. It means we ought to be seeking to move things towards maximum freedom as much as we can, and eliminating as much cronyism as possible. Tariffs are cronyism exemplified.

    Second, there already exist mechanisms for resolving IP disputes, which the US has pursued (IIRC more than any other nation) and I believe the vast majority of these were adjudicated in the US's favor. These mechanisms may be weak, but they exist.

    Third, its naivete of cosmic proportions to think tariffs will "force" dictatorships like China to do anything they don't want to do. Specifically to IP, if you are afraid the Chinese will steal it, some Trump-brokered deal won't protect you. Indeed, I am baffled why US companies share anything with China and don't protect themselves more. In short, the supposed benefits of these tariffs give a false sense of security and its bizarre to see people who are so anti-China think that these will solve anything. in short, US firms should take their own actions to protect IP regardless of all this crapola.

    All these tariffs do is weaken our economy...we are shooting ourselves in the foot.

  • vek||

    As mentioned a trillion times, it's not that China will magically WANT to do what we want them to do... It's that they'll have no choice. It's like if The Rock demanded a 6 year old girls lunch money... She has no option but to comply. I'm not even especially concerned about the IP side, although it is a real issue.

    The bottom line is if the president and congress decided to, we could get China to have 0% tariffs across the board in less than a week, and probably bend on IP stuff too. How? Use the threat of 100% tariffs across the board on all Chinese goods. Their economy would enter into an instant depression, while we could still import most of the types of goods China sends us from other trading partners. We'd get an economic bloody nose, they'd be on their death bed. In other words we have the upper hand.

    They could not survive a true trade "war" with us. If their economy lost the ~500 billion a year in exports to here, they'd have riots in the street in 24 hours.

    Playing hard ball to get to a positive end goal is not something I mind. The biggest problem with doing this is that the current people in congress don't have the stomach for it. Which is why we may fail where we could easily succeed, as with most other major issues where we need to make large changes. No balls!

  • shortviking||

    Everyone here has a goatee.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Manny Ramirez is the goatee right handed hitter of my generation, steroids be damned.

  • Happy Chandler||

    Albert Belle is gonna come crack a bat over your head for saying that.

  • Just Say'n||

    I thought the same thing when so many "libertarians" here were exclaiming how tax cuts are increasing the deficit. It's too bad that people can't see how tariffs are literally a tax and the government doesn't have a right to your money.

    Too bad, Reason had see how nonsensical it is to oppose tariffs while taking issue with tax cuts

  • Zeb||

    One might observe that tax cuts not accompanied by spending cuts are likely to increase deficits and still not oppose the tax cuts.

  • Just Say'n||

    Which than allows one to do the same with regards to tariffs. And I find it to be disingenuous to suggest that one is consistent while the other isn't, since both seem to be pretending that a tariff isn't a tax.

  • Happy Chandler||

    A) A tax cut without spending cuts isn't a tax cut, it's a tax deferment. A tax cut with spending hikes is a deferred tax hike.

    B) The reason tariffs are worse is that they are more market distorting. The reason these particular tariffs are worse is that they are being capriciously used to reward politically connected people for the financial benefit of the administrators.

  • vek||

    How are tariffs more market distorting than income tax? Or companies being mandated to cover certain benefits, like health care?

    Answer: They're not. They all distort the market in their own various ways. Lower corporate income taxes in many countries in Europe and Asia give them every bit as much of an advantage as them also slapping tariffs on our goods going into their country.

    Personally I would be super fine with cutting corporate income taxes by half, or whatever the math works out to, and slapping a 5% across the board revenue tariff on all imported goods.It would very slightly advantage US based manufacturing, but also make our businesses in all industries more competitive.

  • DesigNate||

    Where are all of these supposed "libertarians"? Cause all I see is lc1789 (who, if memory serves, does not consider himself a libertarian). Everyone else is either arguing with him or saying how tariffs are bad. With a smattering of people taking aim at the author for conflating "start paying down" with "completely pay off".

  • Sam Grove||

    The whole point of tariffs is not to collect them, but to raise the profits of protected industries, so at best, the government can expect to collect taxes on those profits, but Trump has already pushed to reduce the corporate tax rate.

  • Just Say'n||

    The federal government used to use tariffs exclusively to offset its spending.

  • sarcasmic||

    Being that the job of the federal government is to manage the borders, tariffs as a sort of user fee seems like a plausible argument.

    I could imagine a flat tariff on all imports, pick a percentage, to generate revenue for enforcing property rights and contracts for the owners and customers of the goods.

    That however is not the same thing as tariffs to "level the playing field" or anything like that.

  • Just Say'n||

    Yeah, I agree.

    I was only saying that in the past tariffs were imposed as a revenue stream by the federal government.

  • ||

    I could imagine a flat tariff on all imports, pick a percentage, to generate revenue for enforcing property rights and contracts for the owners and customers of the goods.

    What if certain sets of countries were more belligerent to the US, more likely to draw the US into an epic transnational conflict, or disproportionately consumed/required/relied upon a portion of the US defense budget?

  • vek||

    Honestly I would love to abolish the income tax and replace it with tariffs. Or even just cut it in half or whatever. I think it would be an eminently fair way to do it, that would have some advantages for the economy, while not raising taxation overall. We ran this country mostly off of tariffs for most of the life of the country, and frankly there is no reason it wouldn't be a perfectly viable way to go about things today.

  • markm23||

    The federal government once ran off just tariffs and excise taxes ("indirect taxes"), but it had great difficulty in collecting rates of more than a few percent - any more, and smuggling and tax evasion became rampant - and the budget was always extremely constrained. Much of the back pay owed to Revolutionary War soldiers could only be paid in land patents (titles to frontier land) rather than cash. The Navy was very good but very small - in the War of 1812, it was outnumbered by close to 50 to 1. In the first 50 years or so, each time even a small army was raised (mostly when Native Americans tried to do something about settlers swarming into their land), the US had to go even deeper into debt. And that was true even when nearly all manufactured goods were imported.

    As the country grew, the northern states industrialized, and so imports did not grow in proportion. When higher rates were imposed, they weren't for revenue, but to protect local industry - they didn't net much more because more had to be spent on enforcement, and even if smugglers couldn't evade these taxes, the expected effect was still a considerable reduction in imports so the higher rates didn't get much more revenue.

  • markm23||

    The authors of the Constitution must have been aware of the difficulty of collecting tariffs; many of the delegates from New England were wealthy from smuggling in colonial times. But they were reluctant to give the feds large revenue sources outside the control of the states. So the Constitution allowed "direct taxes", but these had to be collected by the states, with each state's share being proportional to their population as counted for Congressional districts. That is, for something like an income tax (before the 16th Amendment) or a national real estate tax, the states would have had to collect this rather than the federal government, and the tax rates would have been lower in the richer states. Most states just refused to implement anything so complicated. As far as I know, except for an unconstitutional income tax during the Civil War, the only direct taxes ever collected and turned in to the federal government were head taxes - if the rates were set at, say, $5 for each free person and $3 for each slave, they'd automatically be allotted correctly to each state - if the rates were low enough that even poor people could pay. The Mexican-American War was partially financed that way, and Henry David Thoreau became famous for going to jail rather than paying a war tax...

  • Cynical Asshole||

    The national debt is an important topic—and, unlike imported metals, it actually is a threat to America's national security in the long term—so it's good to see an occupant of the White House talking about addressing it. But what he said isn't a serious suggestion, and surely even Trump realizes as much. It's just another half-baked attempt to retcon a justification for a trade war that will leave America poorer, less competitive, and less able to pay off the overdue bills on the national credit card.

    It's called "throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks." That's all he's doing, and it doesn't matter if he believes his own BS or not, all that matters is whether or not his base believes it.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Based on the comments here, I'd suggest that his base believes it. Hook, line, and sinker.

  • Siohvaughn Funchess||

    Siohvaughn Funches is a famous Public speaker, Christian Counselor, and creator and Siohvaughn Funches born in The America.

  • Echospinner||

    For the love of god please nobody tell Trump about the trillion dollar coin.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    He already has the biggest, best, Trillion dollar coin in the world. Believe me. No one has better.

  • CE||

    No We Aren't Going to Pay Off the National Debt With Tariff Revenue

    FTFY

  • Rockabilly||

    Why can't the government just print more money to pay off the debt?

  • Bill Goode||

    We don't need to pay off the national debt. Simply nationalize the Federal Reserve. Then the United States national debt will be owed to the United States. The United States can then forgive itself of the debt.

    Why pay it off?

  • Owen Henry Windows||

    Yeah, he, of course, is the standard, and ultimate arbiter of what counts as full approval of Trump age :D

  • ||

    No...it won't pay off the national debt...nor should it. Anything that can go to helping pay that debt should not be seen as bad.
    This "reporter" has decided that conventional stats show Trump is failing. The problem is that there is nothing conventional about Trump. It drives the status quo kinda folks off their rockers trying to keep up.
    I'm not so sure fighting for a level playing field on trade is a bad thing. OK...I'm pretty sure it's a good thing. The difficulty for many is that we are a nation of instant gratification, and the benefits will not be instant here.
    Is Trump successful so far? Let's be honest, it's too soon to know.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    I agree with just about all of that, but we have to be realistic here -- the federal government never met a tax it didn't like. It seems unreasonable to expect this tax to be temporary. Even if he gets other countries to (temporarily) agree to reduce THEIR tariffs -- which is a tall order and has been unsuccessfully tried before, he's then going to have to repeal this steady stream of revenue. Good luck with that.

  • sharperguy||

    This is the argument I've heard, maybe someone can comment?

    The only way to reduce national debt and truly start to improve the economy would be massive cuts to government spending. Unfortunately even the president has no way to really authorise that. Therefore Trump managed to increase government spending, but by less than any other presidential candidate would have. Maybe too little too late, but at least it's something. In addition to this he is attempting to deregulate the economy to stimulate growth which would also increase tax revenue if it works. On top of that he has cut income taxes, and raised tariffs. Obviously cutting income taxes without raising tariffs would be better, but only if government spending was reduced to match the reduced tax revenue, which is already seen as infeasible. However the argument would be that if the choice is between high income taxes and low tariffs, or low income taxes and high tariffs, the latter would have the least slowing effect on the economy. In addition there is the potential benefit of putting economic pressure on other countries to reduce their tariffs in exchange for a mutual reduction.

    But Trump himself would never put it like that because it doesn't fit his marketing spiel.

  • ancestrialLocke||

    Manufacturing jobs have been going up since Trump has gotten into office.

  • ancestrialLocke||

    It is amazing to me that 'liberals' will say tariffs will hurt businesses but deny that income taxes don't. They are both taxes imposed by the government but only one of them hurts businesses. I'm trying to figure out where the inconsistency is or why people can't spot it within themselves.

  • alfachemistry22||

    The US Government sets the trade policy.

    The Chinese Communist Party sets the trade policy.

    The EU Committees set the trade policy.

    Trump at least wants free trade where the TOP MEN dont decide every facet of trade.

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