As many states throughout the country begin to reopen, Americans have high hopes of getting back to a new “normal.” President Trump is also in a hurry to get the economy back on track, as a continued financial downturn puts his chances of re-election at risk. Yet the tariffs he implemented on China, or rather, the American people, have put an extra burden on every major economic sector looking to regain their footing from coronavirus losses.
The ultimate goal of President Trump’s implementation of tariffs was to get China to the negotiating table – which led to the phase one trade deal. But thus far, American businesses have seen little, if any, substantial results. In March alone, tariffs cost businesses and farmers $3.9 billion – all while our economy continued to struggle with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This brings the total cost that American taxpayers paid in tariffs to $57 billion since the trade war first began in 2018.
China is making slow progress on following through with its purchasing commitments, but it’s not surprising that the coronavirus pandemic is slowing this down. USTR and USDA recently stated that there needs to be ongoing cooperation to make the agreement a success.
This failure by the President comes at a time when our farmers need us most. Ryan Cranny, a potato farmer in Burley, Idaho, recently said, “It’s going to be years before we return to where we were.” Ryan’s farm is currently facing losses of $3.5 million. In total, American farmers are facing a loss of $20 billion this year, according to the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Research Institute. This trend cannot continue.
My home state of North Carolina is all too familiar with the negative impact that President Trump’s tariffs have caused. Our tobacco industry, which provides the second-largest export crop for North Carolina, continues to struggle more than it already did before coronavirus because of China’s retaliation. Nearly 2,000 growers are suffering from the loss of their biggest customer: China. President Trump’s tariffs have drawn our industry to a standstill, draining tobacco farmers of $250 million in lost income. Even worse, tobacco farmers are not eligible for the federal bailout payments that soybean, dairy, and pork farmers receive.
It is no secret that the world economy is struggling, but President Trump’s tariffs have created an undue burden on the most vulnerable sectors of our economy, and Americans are starting to take notice. Coalitions opposing the President’s stance on tariffs have been engaging in grassroots movements across the country to demonstrate how they are impacted, and North Carolina is no exception. Groups like Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a free trade coalition composed of American businesses, trade organizations, as well as agriculture producers and manufacturers, have been actively working to bring to light the struggle that our farmers around the country are facing. That’s why on June 4th Tariffs Hurt the Heartland will be hosting a virtual roundtable with key leaders across various industries in North Carolina to discuss how tariffs have tanked the growth of their businesses.
President Trump was elected to bring back American jobs and cut red tape to help free our economy from unfair trade practices. But thus far, one of his only accomplishments has been putting additional taxes on the American people and strangling their ability to stay afloat during a global pandemic. If the President wants to help his fellow Americans—which I believe he does—and secure reelection in November, the first thing he should do is repeal these tariffs.
Katlyn Batts is a contributor at RedState.com.