Agreement with China on Tariffs Needed
A few weeks ago, President Trump spoke to a roaring Minnesotan crowd at the Target Center. The crowd cheered as he championed his strong economic achievements, which includes cutting our taxes and slashing needless regulations for businesses. Under his leadership, we have seen some of the greatest unemployment figures in a generation. The national unemployment rate is at an impressive 50-year low, marking one of the strongest economic comebacks in American history. And the stock market has had its longest bull run in history, reaching an all-time high.But there’s one thing that could threaten all of the hard work President Trump has put in to rebuilding our economy and his chances of reelection: tariffs.President Trump has taken a bold stance against China to hold them accountable for their unfair trade practices, hacking of our government agencies and businesses, and stealing trade secrets and to force China to play by the rules. And while I applaud him for doing what so many other American leaders have been too afraid to do, the unintended consequences from the trade war has started to seriously hurt Minnesota farmers, businesses, and consumers.Here in Minnesota, because of the trade war, farmers and businesses have faced close to $1 billion in tariffs, which can more accurately be called taxes, as they are paid to the government. In August alone, the toll was more than $100 million. Businesses now have to hold off on expanding, or worse, contract, to pay for those import fees.For example, Minnesota is home to the largest bicycle parts distributor in the world, but the company, like others in the state, has struggled because of tariffs. Quality Bicycle Parts, based in Bloomington, slowed down on hiring, as tariffs have increased the cost of importing parts. Hiring funds have been diverted to cover tariffs.In fact, businesses nationwide are in the same position: the hiring boom that began when President Trump took office appears to be slowing down, partially due to the uncertainty created by the trade war. Last month, hiring dropped to a five-year low, corresponding with data that US manufacturing fell to a 10-year low and consumer confidence fell to a 9-month low, all in the same month. These tariffs have affected their bottom-lines, leaving them with shrinking hiring and staff budgets. For Minnesota, that means the trade war threatens 752,100 jobs supported by free trade.That’s gotten plenty of Minnesotans worried: 48 percent of them are opposed to the tariffs, and 46 percent think it will hurt the economy and raise prices. Trade war worries world-wide are slowing down the world economy.This economic anxiety over the tariffs and the trade war among key voters is concerning and hurts the president’s odds of flipping the state in 2020. As a proud supporter of the president's economic policies, this troubles me.These poll numbers and the cost of everyday products going up show that the problem with using tariffs to punish China is that they also punish Americans. And because China is a communist regime, the government can simply step in to shore up its farmers and businesses when they have problems. While in America, blue collar manufacturing industries, not having a communist government to lean on, have to make cuts to survive: Ford, Deere, and other manufacturers laid off thousands of workers, due in part to tariffs and the trade war.The good news, however, is that we have a President who fights for American workers, businesses and farmers. The economy may be starting to stall, but President Trump can rev up America’s economic engine again by reaching agreement with China to remove tariffs so that businesses can feel comfortable hiring and expanding again. This would spur job growth and consumer spending once again. An even better economy would put President Trump on good footing to sweep Minnesota in 2020 and to finish what he started in 2016.