You Can't Blame Trump for the Tariff Disaster

A lot of people will read the above headline and think that I am absolving Trump of all blame for the fiscally insane policies his administration is putting out there right now. I am not.

Trump has initiated a trade war by implementing tariffs. It is hurting American business and negatively impacting American farmers. He is supposed to have advisers, but instead, he appears to have yes-men who are more interested in twisting their beliefs to fit the President’s reality than actually advising him on how bad all this plays out.

It is playing out so badly, in fact, that his administration is planning to distribute $12 billion in aid to American farmers.

There are very few classes of American that are as subsidized as the American farmer. Farms that would otherwise go under are kept afloat by government subsidies. Ethanol mandates and corn subsidies keep corn farmers in business. They are an industry that is almost universally reliant on government aid.

That’s not an indictment of the American farmer, mind you. They provide a vital role in the United States, and there are considerations to be made. The problem here – the thing that makes it so fiscally insane – is that this aid package is entirely preventable if Trump would simply pull the tariffs.

But he won’t. He is dead set on staying the course here, and it is going to continue to hurt American interests. That’s on him, but the reason why he is able to do all this is simple: Congress abdicated their responsibility on tariffs long ago, as they have abdicated many of their responsibilities in the past.

Article One of the Constitution sets up Congress and its powers. In Section Eight, it delegates the power to tax and spend to them. Included in this is the concept of the tariff. It is a power given to them by the Constitution. It is not normally in the Executive Branch’s purview.

So what happened?

A series of acts passed out of Congress in the 60s and 70s shifted power away from the Legislature to the Executive. Trump’s administration has used these acts as the basis for their tariffs. However, Congress has the ability to take that power back. They just won’t.

That’s incredibly disappointing, especially from a body dominated by a party that is supposed to believe in lower taxes. Tariffs are taxes on the American people. If they weren’t, there wouldn’t be a need to send aid to farmers to offset the increased costs. A Republican-held Congress should be doing better here, and the fact that they won’t is exactly why you should blame them for this disaster.

It’s clear Trump doesn’t know better. The disappointment is that the GOP doesn’t seem to care.