Tariffs have made holiday shopping a lot harder for millions of Americans.
Concerned that America is getting a “bad deal” when it comes to trade, the president has imposed steep tariffs on Argentina, Brazil and China, while threatening to do the same to a variety of French products.
Despite Trump’s claims that tariffs are “best way to max out our economic power,” it turns out the U.S. is the one getting a “bad deal.” Tariffs haven’t brought back jobs from China. Even worse, tariffs have made products like electronics and toys more expensive, forcing the American consumer to pay more at the register this Christmas season.
While tariff advocates reasoned that companies would pull out of China and return home, reality shows the majority just relocated to countries like Vietnam. In fact, surveys this year indicated just 3 percent of companies plan on moving back to the U.S. This should come as no surprise; it would take serious restructuring to make it possible for America to start manufacturing with the same efficiency as some other countries.
All this could’ve been avoided as history has shown exactly how awful tariffs really are. In 2002, President Bush enacted similar steel tariffs, which cost the nation over 200,000 jobs. In 1930, Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff and “increased the cost of living ‘compelling the consumer to subsidize waste and inefficiency in [domestic] industry.”
As the president seems doomed to repeat history, it’s the consumer that’s left with footing the bill.
Research by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) found that consumers “are unequivocally the losers” when it comes to Chinese tariffs, and that “a further increase in tariffs is likely to be similarly passed through to consumers.” Indeed, economists found tariffs on foreign washing machines had caused the price to increase by 12 percent, while retaliatory Chinese tariffs had increased price of iPhones by 3 percent. A JP Morgan Chase report showed that tariffs cost the average American household $600 annually.
While no one likes paying more for consumer goods, these tariffs come at a particularly bad time as the holidays can already be a stressful time for many.
One survey showed 70 percent of Americans said they’d be unable to “comfortably” afford this holiday season, while one out of every three Americans will turn to credit cards to help with costs. With tariffs hitting consumers this winter season, everything from setting up decorations to putting presents under the tree will become more expensive, forcing families to make some difficult decisions.
The bottom line: Trump’s tariffs have come with steep costs. Consumers are paying more for everyday products and will see prices rise even more if Trump’s policies continue.
As Americans look to gather around the fire on Christmas Day, the president should reconsider his tariffs.
Janson Quinlan Prieb is a policy analyst at the American Consumer Institute.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.