Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Trade You

On Monday, Trump tweeted: "There is no reason for the U.S. Consumer to pay the Tariffs," and that they can be "completely avoided if you buy from a non-Tariffed Country, or you buy the product inside the USA (the best idea). That's Zero Tariffs."
Fact-checking Trump's Buy America strategy of avoiding tariffs
This is what having a certain level of political support buys an office-holder. The ability to note, however obliquely or even painfully, a certain truth. It may very well be true, as CNN points out, that there is no easy or painless way for the American public to dodge the tariffs. But it's also true that making China the producer-of-choice, while it may have been easy, was itself painful. People and businesses in the United States voted, with their wallets to send a portion of United States manufacturing to China, and to other nations, because they would rather pay for a combination of lower wages and higher corporate profitability than they would higher wages for fellow Americans. But putting all of those people out of work itself came with a cost. American businesses moving their operations into a nation that offered lower manufacturing costs, but restricted access to its own markets may have been a profitable decision, but it also came at a cost. And to a certain degree, the public, businesses and government alike dodged some of those costs. President Trump's imposition of tariffs on goods from China makes at least some of those costs inescapable.

And this is something that the President can only get away with because he has a core of people behind him who believe that President's tactics on this will, in the end, be to their (and by extension, the nation's) benefit. And in this, the President deserves a modicum of credit. A lot of the reaction to this is political, more than anything else. And it's part of a common political narrative that always wants to push back against pain. But for the first time in decades, people in the United States are actually reckoning with the costs of choices that were made, and are still being made. Of course, the President is, at the same time, ducking other important questions. But hey... one thing at a time.

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