President Donald Trump has announced tariffs on solar panels, washing machines, steel, and aluminum. Shortly after announcing his tariffs, Trump tweeted that “Trade wars are good, and easy to win.” The opposite is true. Trade wars are harmful across the board, and the cost of these tariffs will be paid in higher prices, lost jobs, and a slower-growing economy. If the trade wars of the 1930s are repeated, Americans could pay by suffering through another Great Depression.
“Trade wars may be good for shoring up Trump’s shrinking populist voter base,” said Libertarian Executive Director Wes Benedict. “But every combatant in a trade war loses, just like in a shooting war — and trade wars often lead to shooting wars. Perhaps the most dishonest component of this newly initiated trade war is its transparently deceptive pretext. Trump justified the tariffs by citing Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, arguing that a depleted domestic steel and aluminum industry could handicap the United States in times of military conflict.”
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis advocated for a tariff that targeted only adversaries, but instead the new tariff takes a shotgun approach that damages both allies and adversaries indiscriminately.
“Trump would be better off listening to free-trade economic advisors like Stephen Moore,” Benedict said. “Instead, he listened to anti-China polemicist Peter Navarro whose economic policy ideas are considered ‘fringe’ by his fellow economists.”
Libertarians are very clear in opposing all tariffs. From the Libertarian Party platform: “We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade.” Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and other congressional Republicans are attempting to prevent Trump’s tariffs, particularly the 25 percent tariff on steel and the 10 percent tariff on aluminum.
Even Democrats are coming down in favor of free trade and opposing Trump’s tariffs. During Sen. Claire McCaskill’s remarks at a Hannibal, Mo., Democrat Days event on March 3, she said that the tariffs on steel and aluminum would affect allies such as Canada much more than adversaries, and would invite retaliatory trade war responses that could have negative effects on Missouri products.
“I think it’s going to be brutal for Missouri agriculture,” McCaskill said, according to St. Louis Public Radio. “Canada is the number-one country for the steel that we import. It’s the number-one country for the aluminum we import. So the president’s declared a trade war against Canada, which is our most reliable important trading partner for agriculture. So this is not going to be good. We’ve got to figure out a way to stop this before it really dramatically hurts everybody in northeast Missouri that is growing beans and corn.”
Full Release from The Libertarian Party @ https://www.lp.org/trade-wars-trumps-tariffs-harm-everybody/