To state the obvious, tariffs are nothing more than taxes. Specifically, tariffs are taxes on items imported into a particular country levied at the border. When levied on items entering a country, the tariff burden is passed along to consumers of the imported item – families and businesses – by way of higher prices. These taxes are particularly harmful to less well off individuals who spend a greater percentage of their income on consumer goods. If the history of trade economics has proven anything, it’s that raising tariffs and walling off the United States from the rest of the world is a ruinous plan. Tariffs failed during the Great Depression and will fail again.
Conservatives overwhelmingly oppose raising taxes on anyone or any particular industry. National Taxpayers Union (NTU) has a long history of fighting for taxpayers and advocating for lower taxes and less government spending. As a result, we have worked tirelessly to oppose ill-conceived ideas to raise taxes on items imported into the country.
Yet the supposed conservative presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has consistently advocated for higher taxes on goods imported from other countries, particularly China and Mexico, in order to “protect” American manufacturers and workers. Higher taxes on imports will not protect American manufacturers or workers, and would trigger a trade war with foreign countries retaliating with higher tariffs on American exports.
Mr. Trump’s protectionism is a very bad idea. Far from punishing China and Mexico, raising tariffs on items from these countries imported into the United States will hurt American consumers. Though Mr. Trump’s trade rhetoric may make for good election year politics, it would be an unmitigated disaster for U.S. businesses and consumers. Accordingly, NTU will continue pushing back against reckless rhetoric and policy proposals that would harm American taxpayers – and we encourage other conservatives opposed to higher taxes to join us in this endeavor.