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If Only Trump Were Correct

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:


At the end of your report today about Pres. Trump’s tariffs on imports from China (“Trump Ordered New Chinese Tariffs Over Objections of Advisers”) is notice of a stunningly out-of-character confession by the president of abject failure: “So far our consumer is paying nothing.”

Never mind that Pres. Trump is factually mistaken. If he were correct – as he obviously thinks he is – his tariffs would be failing to protect a single American firm and worker from Chinese imports.

If despite Pres. Trump’s tariffs the American consumer is indeed “paying nothing,” the American consumer has encountered neither the slightest rise in the prices of Chinese goods nor the slightest reduction in the availability and quality of these goods. Thus, the president’s tariffs have failed to prompt this consumer to increase by even a smidgen his or her purchases of American-made goods.

Because a major purpose of Pres. Trump’s tariffs is to increase the sales of American firms that compete with Chinese imports, we should applaud Pres. Trump for this all-too-rare admission that one of his signature policies is a complete flop.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030