Dan Gilmore / May 13, 2016

Are Trump Tariffs the Way to Bring Manufacturing Back?

The plan would cost the average American household $6,000 a year.

As part of his promise to “Make America great again,” Donald Trump essentially advocates starting trade wars with the countries that took the manufacturing jobs once held by Americans. To analyze the effects of imposing tariffs on countries like China and Mexico, the National Foundation for American Policy, a think tank that advocates free trade, studied Trump’s proposals and determined it could add a massive burden to the poor in America, who rely on cheap, imported goods. We’ve previously warned of the consequences of Trump’s plan in more general terms. And the think tank says his plan would cost the average American household $6,000 a year.

“Donald Trump’s populist-fueled ignorance about how world trade works makes economists tear out their own hair,” writes Reason’s Scott Shackford. “He thinks trade deficits between the United States and other countries mean we’re somehow getting screwed over and not the actual reality that we’re buying goods that we want more cheaply. You have a trade deficit with your local grocery store, but you’re not getting screwed over by them (well, maybe on that overpriced Greek yogurt).”

Furthermore, global trade benefits the high-quality goods made in the United States. Impose tariffs on China, and they’re likely to impose them back, further hurting U.S. manufacturing, destroying even the paltry gains in GDP that have occurred during Barack Obama’s “recovery.” And thanks to advances in manufacturing technology, there are fewer manufacturing jobs than in the past. To put Trump’s plan in perspective, one estimate said implementing all of Bernie Sanders’ socialist plans would cost the average American household $5,000 a year. That Bernie is cheaper than Donald should give everyone pause.

(Edited.)

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