Did you know? The Patriot Post is funded 100% by its readers. Help us stay front and center in the fight for Liberty and support the 2022 Independence Day Campaign.

Edwin J. Feulner / February 22, 2018

The Trouble With Tariffs

The stronger economy we’re enjoying now is no accident. Lower taxes, more jobs and fewer regulations are creating a much-needed boost. So why do we still have one foot on the brake?

The stronger economy we’re enjoying now is no accident. Lower taxes, more jobs and fewer regulations are creating a much-needed boost. So why do we still have one foot on the brake?

I’m referring to trade. Protectionist measures act as a drag on our progress. Indeed, they threaten to undo much of it.

Consider the tariffs and quotas that the Trump administration recently slapped on imports of solar cells and modules, large residential washers, and washer parts. The price? As researcher Tori Whiting notes in a Daily Signal article, we get fewer jobs (roughly 23,000 American jobs this year, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association), higher prices for U.S. consumers, and retaliation from America’s trading partners.

Five of those partners — China, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea and the European Union — have filed complaints with the World Trade Organization over these tariffs. This begins the long process of determining if the U.S. is violating Section 201 of the 1974 Trade Act. If the answer is yes, these countries can begin putting retaliatory restrictions on our exports to them. That’s hardly a recipe for economic growth here in the U.S.

Or look at the steep tariffs the administration has levied on Canadian softwood lumber imported into the U.S. American lumber companies might cheer this, but how does it affect U.S. consumers? These tariffs “reach deep into new homebuyers’ pockets, causing them to settle for smaller homes, or ones with fewer amenities,” writes researcher Patrick Tyrell. “Some families opt to buy older homes, rather than new homes, hurting home construction jobs. Others drop out of the market altogether.”

And then there’s the North American Free Trade Agreement. Last month in Montreal, President Trump’s trade adviser, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, renewed the president’s threat that the United States could withdraw from NAFTA because in its current form, it is “really not a good agreement for the United States.”

But that’s the key point — in its current form. When NAFTA was first proposed, I supported it enthusiastically. As a strong proponent of freedom, I know the power of open trade. And NAFTA delivered. But that was 25 years ago.

Cell phones were in their infancy then. They were the size of a brick and could only make, well, phone calls. Today, most of us carry a small, powerful computer in our pocket that does a variety of things for us. Things change, technology advances — often at astonishing speed — and NAFTA hasn’t kept up, often to the detriment of the U.S.

Some things, meanwhile, have stayed the same (unfortunately). When NAFTA was first negotiated, U.S. energy exports to Mexico were virtually prohibited because the market there is controlled by a government monopoly known as Pemex. Those restrictions are still in place. Why? Because this antiquated agreement must be updated.

Speaking of technological advances, I have a friend in New Mexico who uses fracking technology to extract oil from deep wells. But he has to flare off the resulting gas from this process — gas that he could have piped and sold in Mexico. But NAFTA doesn’t permit it. Why?

In short, there is distinct room for improvement as NAFTA is renegotiated. The administration is absolutely right to play hardball and work to ensure that NAFTA is improved.

A pullout, however, would be a serious mistake, one that would touch off severe economic ripples. “Let’s hope all the recent saber-rattling on trade by the Trump administration has been just the old trade negotiation tactic of ‘jawboning’ to get a better deal,” writes trade expert James Roberts.

Nobody wins a trade war. We help ourselves and each other when we stand foursquare for freedom. It’s time to trash the tariffs and update the “rules of the road” for all concerned.

Republished from The Heritage Foundation.

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2022 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.