Despite concerns about inflation and rising consumer prices, President Joseph Biden has yet to decide whether to lift Trump administration-imposed tariffs on billions of dollars worth of imported goods. To help make that decision, Biden and his advisers could consult a source they should know — Biden’s campaign website.
If one reads the Biden-Harris campaign website, which remains active, one can find the following statements on tariffs:
– “Trump’s tariff war with China cost the United States 300,000 jobs in the first year.”
– “In the wake of Trump’s corporate giveaway and tariff war, Harley-Davidson announced it would cut 800 manufacturing jobs, buy back nearly $700 million of its own stock and relocate some of its production abroad.”
Washington Post Columnist Catherine Rampell wrote: “Biden’s campaign website argued that Trump’s trade wars with allies and foes cost hundreds of thousands of US jobs. In a 2019 speech, Biden said, “President Trump may think he’s tough on China. All he’s delivered as a result is American farmers, manufacturers, and consumers who lose and pay. more.
Three years later, Biden has continued the Trump administration’s trade policy with few changes. “President Joe Biden said on Friday he has yet to make a decision on whether to cut some U.S. tariffs on imports from China, saying his administration is considering them ‘one at a time,'” reported Reuters.
There is no reason for the Biden administration to continue Trump’s unsuccessful China trade policy. “Looking back at the Trump administration’s China trade policy, the biggest lesson is that unilateralism simply doesn’t work, at least not against a great power like China,” writes Henry Gao, a trade expert at prominent and associate professor of law. at Singapore Management University, in a January 2021 study for the National Foundation for American Policy. “Despite the tumultuous two-and-a-half-year trade war and the Phase 1 deal hailed as an ‘unprecedented’ deal promising ‘a more balanced trade relationship and a level playing field for American workers and businesses’,” he There has been little progress on issues that American business and the Trump administration have opposed in China’s trade and economic policies.
A June 2022 analysis from the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIEE) explained how reducing tariffs would help consumers. “Secretary Yellen and others in the administration should think more broadly about trade liberalization and consider reducing tariffs beyond those imposed on China,” according to PIEE’s Megan Hogan and Yilin Wang. “At 2 percentage points fare equivalent reduction on a wide range of goods entering the US market could lead to an estimated one-time reduction of 1.3 percentage points in CPI inflation, which is currently raging at 8.3%. This reduction would save $797 per American household.
“While it may not be practical (or even legal) for President Biden to cut tariffs by 2 percentage points across the board, there are many individual steps the Biden administration could take to achieve trade liberalization equivalent to to a 2 percentage point reduction in tariffs.” (Emphasis added.)
On Meet the press, host Chuck Todd asked Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo about tariffs. “We should be clear about what lifting tariffs would and wouldn’t do, right?” she says. “Like, lifting tariffs isn’t going to bring inflation down very significantly. What it will potentially do is help consumers for some, as you said, household items. And so, for that reason, given inflation, I think it might make sense to do so.
“But, you know, the president is thinking about this, unlike President Trump. These tariffs he imposed made no sense. And so, we’re briefing him, and I expect him to make a decision shortly. And if he decides to raise certain tariffs, it will be because he knows that he must think of doing everything to relieve consumers. But he’s going to do it in a thoughtful way that’s strategic, and also most important — most important to him and to all of us — is without hurting American workers.
It’s contradictory for Biden officials to say Trump’s tariffs “didn’t make sense” while maintaining those tariffs for the past 18 months. It is also wrong to say that tariffs help workers. A small percentage of workers sheltered from competition could benefit from tariffs, but since all workers are also consumers, the higher prices caused by tariffs harm American workers more broadly.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden correctly argued that the tariffs imposed under the Trump administration were terrible economic policy. It may be time for the Biden administration’s trade team to revisit the Biden campaign website.