Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the whole Trump presidential fantasy has been the refusal of other candidates and commentators to challenge the Donald’s imbecilic trade proposals – until now. Trump’s stupid and dangerous trade policy would destroy millions of jobs, while greatly reducing the buying power of average Americans.
The highlights of Trump’s policy are a 45% tariff on all Chinese imports, a 35% tariff on many Mexican imports and a 10% tariff on all other imports, according to our friends at The Wall Street Journal. If Donald were ever to get Congress to go along with these horrendous suggestions, the effects on average Americans’ budgets would be terrible.
Average Americans would end up paying through the nose for Trump’s trade war, because of the percentage of certain goods made in China. Under the Trump trade regime; many everyday items would become unaffordable, even to some middle class families.
In 2011 90.6% of the personal computers, 70.6% of the mobile phones and 63% of the shoes were made in China; according to The Atlantic and The International Business Times. One has to wonder average families would be able to afford this stuff under Trump’s plan, would salaries magically increase by 45% in order to help working folk make up the difference?
Americans would not be able to Afford Electronics under the Trump Trade Regime
The prices on many items such as common electronic devices would increase by 45% because they are made in China. Examples include:
- A Samsung 4 Series 24 inch LED TV set currently selling for $147.99; according to Google shopping, would increase in price to $214.59 cents.
- An iPhone 6s currently selling for $199; would cost $89.55, more or $288.55.
- An iPad Air with a 9.7 which sells for $299 today would cost $134.55 more; or $433.55, under the Trump China tariff.
Many people would no longer be able to afford the everyday gadgets they take for granted under the Trump trade program. Billionaire Donald would still be able to afford the iPhone and Android phone he carries around, but a lot of working people wouldn’t.
Nor would it just be electronics, hot sauce which is made in Mexico; and now sells for a $1 a bottle at some discount stores, would cost $1.35. That’s nothing to a rich man like Trump but the cost ads up for working families. Many items including appliances are now made in Mexico, under Donald working and many middle class families would no longer be able to afford them.
Even vehicles such as the popular Ford F-series pick truck could cost more, because many of the components for America’s most popular automobile are made in Mexico. A Dodge Ram 1500 pickup; which currently costs around $26,000, would cost $9,000 more or $35,000 with Trump’s tariffs in effect, Reuters reported. Vehicle sales; which have been one of the few bright spots in our economy, could plummet under Donald’s tariffs.
The arrogance and insensitivity of these proposals is astounding. What is even more disturbing is the lack of understanding of basic economics. Does Trump understand that consumer spending is what drives the US economy?
How Trump’s Trade policies would Kill Jobs
Some economists estimate that Trump’s trade restrictions would kill one million American jobs. A few such as Peter Petri of Brandeis University think the number could be higher.
The problem is that the US simply does not have the industrial capacity to produce all the currently imported goods, Petri noted. Instead it would take several years or longer to build or rebuild the factories needed. That means hundreds of thousands of import-related jobs would disappear and nothing would replace them for years.
Another problem is that economic activity would be far lower with such tariffs in place. There would be less spending, less money in circulation and fewer jobs. As prices increased retail sales would plummet and many retailers would have to start laying off workers.
This effect would be multiplied as others who depend upon retail for their livelihood lost their jobs. For example truck drivers and warehouse workers, some of these are good middle class jobs which pay high salaries.
The amount of sales tax collected in many jurisdictions would also fall which would force government to cut the budget and lay off workers. As more people get laid off, spending will fall causing even more job losses.
How Donald could destroy American Agriculture
Things could be made much worse if Mexico and China retaliate with trade restrictions of their own. Something similar actually occurred in the 1930s and made the Depression far worse after the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930.
Farmers could be among the worst hurt, in 2009 when Mexico put a 25% duty on 90 US products including frozen potatoes, potato exports to that country fell by 50%. Farmers lost around $70 million in revenue.
The average farm household income of $17,769 is now below the federal poverty line for a family of four; which is $24,300 a year, according to the US Department of Agriculture or USDA. If Congress were to implement the Trump tariffs and trigger a trade war with the People’s Republic and the farm income could drop to half or a third of the poverty rate. We could see a situation like the Great Depression with thousands of farm foreclosures; and hundreds of homeless farm families roaming the highways begging for food and desperately seeking work.
China is the largest and fastest growing market for US agricultural exports; it bought $29.6 billion worth of them in 2014, according to the USDA. Around 16% of US agricultural exports go to China. The Chinese bought $12.7 billion worth of US soybeans alone in 2015.
Just imagine what would happen if 16% of the market for American agricultural products were to vanish overnight. As I noted above the effect would be a farm crisis rivaling that of the Great Depression. Nor would farmers be the only ones hurt the Chinese also imported around $1 billion worth US wood in 2015.
China also imports large amounts of processed food from the US including flour, oils, dairy products, meats, and alcohol such as wine and beer. This creates lots of jobs for American factory workers, and others such as truck drivers and warehouse and railroad employees. Cut this trade and tens of thousands of jobs would disappear.
Nor would it just be agriculture devastated, the US exported around 300,000 vehicles to China in 2015. Were that trade to end, hundreds of high-paying union factory jobs could vanish. Not to mention jobs in steel, auto parts manufacturing and in railroads and trucking; which transport vehicles to the ports for export to China.
The sorry truth is that Trump’s trade proposals would kill millions of American jobs, devastate hundreds of American communities, bankrupt thousands of American businesses and impoverish hundreds of thousands of American families. This reality needs to be driven home to the American people.
If Republicans had effectively communicated how destructive Trump’s trade plan could be to our economy and average people to voters, Donald would have lost big in the primaries. It is time for candidates like US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to make trade; and Trump’s plans to increase sales taxes on many of the items average Americans buy by 45%, the central issue.