Monday evening, President Trump took the first meaningful step to extricate the U.S. from its decades-long trade policy nightmare that has wreaked havoc on the American people and economy. He imposed a 10% tariff on $200 billion worth of imports from China, adding to the similar tariff he imposed earlier this year on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports. His goal is to eliminate America’s massive trade deficit with China and restore a balance of trade. When the Chinese failed to respond to the initial round of tariffs with voluntary measures to re-balance trade, the president was left with no choice but to take steps to assure that it happens.
Chinese reaction, and reaction by pro-trade lobbying organizations, has been predictable. China threatened retaliation and yesterday announced small tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. exports. Why only $60 billion? Because that’s all that’s left after they already imposed tariffs on U.S. exports in response to Trump’s first round of tariffs. In essence, they’re already out of ammo in the trade war. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said as much yesterday and Trump warned China that any retaliation against our farmers or industries would immediately result in tariffs on all remaining imports from China.
As reported in the above-linked Reuters article:
… Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a news briefing later that the U.S. steps have brought “new uncertainty” to talks between the two countries.
“China has always emphasized that the only correct way to resolve the China-U.S. trade issue is via talks and consultations held on an equal, sincere and mutually respectful basis. But at this time, everything the United States does not give the impression of sincerity or goodwill,” he added.
I can’t let that pass. Let’s get one thing straight. Red China is not America’s equal in any respect. (I refer to them as Red China because their annointing of Chairman Xi as chairman for life proves that they are still nothing more than the totalitarian, communist regime that they were under Mao Tse Tung.) Such regimes aren’t worthy of American respect. Red China’s economy – formerly an economic backwater – has been propped up by dumb American trade policy. It’s time to kick away that prop.
Business groups warned of disruptions to their supply chains. Funny. They had no problems with disrupting their long-standing American supply chains when they moved them to China in the first place.
Others warned of economic harm to American consumers:
“President Trump’s decision … is reckless and will create lasting harm to communities across the country,” said Dean Garfield, president of the Information Technology Industry Council, which represents major tech firms.
Seriously? Recently, Trump was criticized for denying the death toll in Puerto Rico in the wake of hurricane Maria last year. That death toll figure was arrived at by comparing the death rate in Puerto Rico to the death rate preceding the hurricane. OK, let’s apply that same logic to American trade policy. In the wake of engaging in free trade with China, Americans’ life expectancy has actually declined and death rates have risen as despair set into communities where one factory after another closed. So, applying that same death toll methodology to U.S. trade policy, it’s clear that previous administrations are responsible for not a few thousand deaths, but millions. And as the economy continues to recover in response to Trump’s trade policies, he can be credited with saving millions of lives. Anyone with a brain can see that it was the export of American jobs to China that did “lasting harm to communities across the country.” Reversing that process, as Trump is doing, can only be a huge boon to American communities.
One group has been conspicuously silent during this whole process and no one has reported on it. For decades, American trade policy has been paralyzed by fear of the World Trade Organization. Now we can see what an irrelevant, toothless tiger that organization is. In Five Short Blasts, I pointed out that the WTO was actually powerless to do anything that nations weren’t already free to do before the organization existed. Why have we waited all this time to take our trade policy back in our own hands and impose tariffs to restore a balance of trade? Why have we stood idly by and racked up trillions of dollars of debt and devastated our communities out of fear of this organization? Stupid. There’s just no other word to describe it.
I honestly thought I’d never live to see the day when America would stand up for itself again. It seemed that the sappy globalist mentality, reminiscent of the ’70s Coca Cola ad where everyone held hands and sang “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,” had condemned America to live out the rest of its existence as a sick host, lying helplessly as it’s fed upon by a horde of trade parasites. But that day that I thought I’d never see came on Monday. America has stopped being a trade chump. There’s much more to be done. The European Union has been as much of a trade parasite as China and needs to be dealt with in the same way. So too does Mexico. But this is a good start.