The Koch brothers’ — the billionaire plutocrats and GOP mega-donors — network of organizations are railing against President Trump’s tariffs on China to protect American workers and U.S. industry.
This month, Trump hiked tariffs to 25 percent on about $200 billion worth of Chinese manufactured goods. Trump has also ordered trade officials to begin reviewing the process of increasing tariffs to 25 percent on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese goods.
In the wake of the latest round of tariffs, the Koch brothers’ organizations like the Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the Libre Initiative demand that the Trump administration carry out an agenda focused on free trade, as the Bush and Obama administrations did.
AFP President Tim Phillips said that instead of protecting American industries by slapping tariffs on foreign manufacturers and imports, the Trump administration should eliminate all tariffs:
More protectionist measures will continue to undermine the historic pro-growth policy achievements fueling our economy. Countless families, factory workers, and farmers are feeling the financial strain caused by continued trade escalation. [Emphasis added]
Rather than continuing to push a strategy where both sides clearly lose, the U.S. should seek the elimination of all tariffs, quotas, and trade barriers that adversely affect Americans. Adopting a more positive approach will foster growth at home and welcome cooperation from allies and trading partners abroad. [Emphasis added]
AFP Senior Policy Fellow Alison Acosta Winters published an op-ed in the Washington Examiner in which she declared “tariffs are bad” and claimed tariffs “penalize American workers and consumers.”
“Scrapping the tariffs would be easy and the right thing to do,” Winters wrote.” It would help American businesses and consumers.”
Libre Initiative President Daniel Garza in a statement said Trump’s tariffs were specifically harming Hispanic American families and claimed the tariffs have increased “the tax burden on working families” – without providing any data.
Tariffs and other trade barriers are another word for tax increases on the products that consumers buy. Consumers around the world benefit when governments eliminate those barriers. They are able to choose from a greater array of products at competitive prices – and that competition encourages all producers to keep their prices down. Exporters benefit when trade barriers are eliminated, as it improves their ability to compete and earn a profit. Hispanic families are directly affected by these trade barriers – since so many in our community spend a large portion of our incomes on necessities. [Emphasis added]
With that in mind, the White House must focus on a realistic plan to eliminate barriers to trade as quickly as possible. These barriers are hurting American consumers and undermining the ability of U.S. companies to compete effectively in the international market. They are increasing the tax burden on working families, and undoing the positive benefits of tax reductions adopted just a few years ago. We need a course change, and soon. [Emphasis added]
As Breitbart News Economics Editor John Carney has chronicled, tariffs have not spurred mass unemployment as a study commissioned by the Koch brothers claimed last year. The 2018 study said Trump’s imposi9ng of tariffs on foreign goods would throw 2.75 million Americans out of work. Federal labor data reveals that this claim has not panned out.
Likewise, American consumers have not been hit with additional product costs due to Trump’s tariffs on China and imported steel and aluminum. Department of Labor data this month found that its year-to-year consumer price index had increased just two percent — indicating the prices for U.S. consumers are not rising the way free trade advocates had claimed.
“But unlike a sales tax or a gas tax, consumers do not directly pay any tariffs,” Carney wrote in his piece titled, The Tariff Scare Narrative Has Collapsed–Latest Price Data Show No Inflation.
“Tariffs are paid by importers, often large U.S. companies that are importing from their own foreign subsidiaries or foreign contractors,” Carney wrote.
There have been at least 11,100 U.S. jobs created due to Trump’s protective tariffs as of August 2018, according to the latest available research. This indicates that there were 20 times as many American jobs created in the first half of 2018 thanks to Trump’s tariffs on imported foreign goods than jobs that were lost.
Patrick Courrielche, host of the podcast Red Pilled America, recently told Breitbart News that it is paramount that the U.S. focus on maximizing U.S. jobs and American production rather than prioritizing cheap foreign products.
“People aren’t understanding the issue, because everyone you speak to on this is like ‘Free trade, free trade, free trade. Yes, of course, we have to send this stuff overseas, we want cheaper products,'” Courrielche said. “Cheaper products are great, but at the same time, if you don’t have a job, you can’t even afford cheap.”
A Harvard/Harris Poll in March found that nine-in-ten conservatives support reciprocal tariffs — that is tariffs which would allow the president to impose the same tariff on foreign imports that are imposed on American-manufactured products. Similarly, 80 percent of all U.S. voters said they support reciprocal tariffs.
The pro-tariff views of the American electorate are in stark contrast to the billionaire donor class, which favors a global open markets policy of free trade that outsources American jobs to foreign countries as a result.
Specifically, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has attempted to tank the passage of the Reciprocal Trade Act and has united with the rest of the business lobby and Republican lawmakers to strip Trump of his tariff powers. Meanwhile, there is little-to-no support for the donor class’s preferred economic libertarian agenda.
Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was enacted and China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO), nearly five million American manufacturing jobs have been eliminated from the American economy. The vast elimination of working and middle-class jobs and depressed U.S. wages due to NAFTA has coincided with a nearly 600 percent increase in trade deficits. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Koch brothers network continue to support NAFTA.
One former steel town in West Virginia lost 94 percent of its steel jobs because of NAFTA, with nearly 10,000 workers in the town being displaced from the steel industry.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.