While President-elect Donald Trump’s election has given new hope to Americans fed up with eight years of President Barack Obama’s leftist agenda, a new tax proposal being touted by members of Trump’s transition team has sparked concern among some conservatives that the next administration could drive the country into another recession.
As part of the president-elect’s “America First” campaign, the transition team has reportedly begun considering imposing an across-the-board tariff on all products imported into America.
“(T)he team is mulling a 10 percent tariff aimed at spurring U.S. manufacturing, which could be implemented via executive action or as part of a sweeping tax reform package they would push through Congress,” CNN reported Thursday.
While this move was not surprising given Trump’s campaign promise to pursue protectionist trade policies, it was nevertheless problematic for a number of reasons.
For one, it was “bad economic policy,” according to prominent conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, who has maintained that American consumers would have to shoulder the brunt of the taxes. It would also be unconstitutional, assuming Trump were to implement it via executive fiat.
“The Constitution itself gives Congress the power to ‘regulate commerce with foreign nations,’” he wrote this week for The Daily Wire. “The only excuse for a president using executive authority to unilaterally impose tariffs is delegation of power by Congress to the president.”
There were also concerns that Trump’s tariff could negatively affect the economy. As reported by Business Insider, Citi Chief Economist Willem Buitler has warned that the president-elect’s proposed tariffs — as well as his plans to rip up trade deals — could spark a global trade war, “which (in turn) could easily trigger a global recession.”
Moreover, an unnamed business community organization has reportedly prepared talking points against the tariff.
“This $100 billion tax on American consumers and industry would impose heavy costs on the U.S. economy, particularly for the manufacturing sector and American workers, with highly negative political repercussions,” the talking points warned. “Rather than using a trade policy sledgehammer that would inflict serious collateral damage, the Trump administration should use the scalpel of US trade remedy law to achieve its goals.”
There were all legitimate concerns based not on some sort of “Never Trump” obstinacy but rather on sound economic theory. The hope was that the president-elect would consider these points and then either revise his proposal or offer a counter-argument explaining why Shapiro, Buitler and others were mistaken.
There’s no question that having Donald Trump in the Oval Office is going to be better — much, much better — for the American economy than the alternative would have been, but that doesn’t mean than every policy recommendation is going to be a winner. Nobody’s perfect, and it’s the job of the American voter to hold our leaders accountable for making the best decisions for the country, whether they’re on our side of the political aisle or not.
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