Donald Trump’s tariff debacle drives him to the brink

In September of 2018, over eighty of the nation’s largest trade associations spanning a range of industries joined forces to create a coalition called Americans for Free Trade, to combat the insanity known as Trump’s tariffs. A year later, this coalition, which has since doubled its membership and represents thousands of companies and employees, is trying to implore Donald Trump to call off his upcoming tariff hikes on Chinese imports until at least 2020.

In a letter sent to Trump on Wednesday, the coalition warned that the tariff rate increases “come at the worst possible time, right in the middle of the busy holiday shipping period. Action is needed by you to protect American businesses, workers and consumers this holiday season.” The coalition pointed out that earlier this month, Trump acknowledged that postponing some of his planned tariffs would prevent economic harm to consumers over the holidays. But Trump still needs to understand that “a large portion of holiday merchandise will still be hit by September and October tariff increases at an even higher rate than was initially anticipated.” The coalition also reminded Trump of the sobering reality that he refuses to recognize, which is that “many businesses will have no choice but to pass along those costs to consumers.”

After berating Trump for his tariffs folly, the coalition then pushed back against Trump’s tweet from last week in which he announced that “[o]ur great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China.” Aside from the illegality of a President of the United States ordering private businesses to avoid a market, the coalition notes that the idea of abandoning the world’s second largest economy is “not a solution and is unrealistic.”

The coalition closed its letter by noting that “[a] tariff delay is the gift you can give American families this holiday season,” then offered a final plea: “Please protect the holiday season and delay these tariffs.” No sooner did the coalition send its letter then the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative officially disclosed that Trump’s harmful tariffs are indeed set to take effect, starting this Sunday with a 15% tax on about half of $300 billion in Chinese imports. Merry Christmas.

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