Monday, 26 March 2018

Terrified of Tariffs?

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To judge from the impassioned cries of his opponents, one might think President Donald Trump’s tariff announcement on March 1 was the opening shot of a calamitous “trade war” that will end in apocalypse and ashes. Imposing a tariff of 25 percent on foreign-made steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum, is, in some minds, it seems, more barbaric and heartless than destroying Iraq, militarily occupying Afghanistan for the past 17 years (and on into infinity), bombing Syria into oblivion, overthrowing governments in Egypt and Libya, launching drone and missile attacks against other countries, etc.

In fact, some of the hand-wringers who fret that Trump’s tariffs will end in a trade war don’t seem to have much problem at all getting behind perpetual shooting wars in all corners of the globe. They fuss over China’s retaliation against U.S.-grown sorghum or the prospect that Europe may retaliate with tariffs on U.S.-made peanut butter, orange juice, and Harley Davidsons. But many of the same don’t appear to find a military war with North Korea — including retaliation with nuclear missiles — particularly concerning. They’re filled with angst over projected tariff costs — running into tens or hundreds of billions of dollars — presented in worst-case scenario fantasies by tariff critics, while at the same time unflinchingly, reflexively voting for massive new outlays for our far-flung, never-ending, and undefined War on Terror that has already consumed trillions of American dollars, not to mention the lives of thousands of American servicemen and well over one million foreign civilian casualties.

According to various studies by the Congressional Research Service, Congressional Budget Office, think tanks, and universities, we have already sunk $5.6 trillion into our War on Terror ventures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria. Those are the direct costs to date and don’t include “legacy costs” (medical and health benefits for service members and interest on the war debt), which will add an estimated $7.9 trillion more in costs over the next three decades. Those costs also do not include the additional huge sums involved in the additional 70-plus countries where our ever-expanding War on Terror has operations of one kind or another ongoing.

Globalists of the Democrat-Republican duopoly in Washington, D.C. are in a dither over Trump’s tariff moves. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, two of the GOP’s most rabid “Never Trump” war hawks, go completely weak at the knees at the thought of tariffs and “trade wars.” McCain, who is ever ready to “let slip the dogs of war” at a moment’s notice, ripped the Trump tariffs, warning they “will harm the American economy, hurt American workers, and damage relations with America’s allies and partners." His Mini-Me clone, Graham, who has been impatiently beating the war drums against Iran and North Korea, is distraught at the thought of tariffs.

"Please reconsider," he pleaded with the president, calling the tariff announcement "a huge mistake." Patrick Buchanan notes that, “Twenty-four hours earlier, Graham had confidently assured us that war with a nuclear-armed North Korea is ‘worth it.’"

"All the damage that would come from a war [with North Korea] would be worth it in terms of long-term stability and national security," said Graham. Buchanan aptly comments: “A steel tariff terrifies Graham. A new Korean war does not?”

Across the aisle, California Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein has supported virtually every U.S. shooting, bombing, killing war across the planet — from Bosnia and Kosovo to Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. But the horrors of a “trade war” curdle her blood. Feinstein, a certified one-worlder (she’s a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was an early member of the Trilateral Commission), issued a statement on March 8 charging that “President Trump’s decision to impose steel and aluminum tariffs risks a global trade war.” Moreover, she warned, “unless the president reverses course, it will be American consumers, workers and families who will lose.”

Senators McCain, Graham, Feinstein, and other bipartisan pom-pom girls for so-called free trade can be depended on not only to waste precious American blood, treasure and goodwill on endless wars, but also to view tariffs as the equivalent of the bubonic plague. Tariffs, they aver, will devastate our economy, yet they favor sovereignty-destroying agreements such as NAFTA, TPP, and TTIP that demolish our manufacturing and technology bases, make us dependent on our enemies for critical materials, and subject us to the jurisdiction of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations.

In truth, the “free trade” lobby has been engaged in a real trade war against America since the end of World War II. In 1945, we had an average tariff rate of 10.6 percent. That has steadily decreased to less than 2 percent. However, as the U.S. Trade Representative website notes, “One-half of all industrial goods entering the United States enter duty free” — which means with zero tariffs.

The politicians and economic “experts” who are expressing horror at the thought of tariffs are also fighting the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back the federal regulatory state that is waging war on our businesses and making it impossible for them to compete globally. President Trump is making sincere efforts to slash the job-killing regulations that cost our economy $1.9 trillion annually. Those who would avoid the “tariff wars” would do well to enlist on Trump’s side in the regulatory war.

Photo: primeimages/E+/Getty Images

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