Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo
- President Donald Trump’s trade policies cost Americans tens of billions of dollars in their first year, even before major tariff escalations took place.
- The pricetag of levies by the Trump administration added up to $22 billion through April, according to a new report.
- While Trump and his administration claim that tariffs hurt foreign exporters, evidence suggests that businesses and consumers at home pay the price.
President Donald Trump’s trade policies cost Americans tens of billions of dollars through April, according to new estimates, even before major tariff escalations took place.
The pricetag of duties levied by the Trump administration added up to nearly $22 billion during that time period, the free-trade group Tariffs Hurt the Heartland said in a new report. That was before Trump more than doubled the tariff rate on $200 billion worth of Chinese products in May, so current totals are likely much higher.
Senator Chuck Grassley, who is leading efforts to craft a bill that would seek to rein in presidential trade powers, has given the same estimate. US Customs and Border Protection has assessed more than $15.2 billion in tariffs on China and more than $6.5 billion from those levied on steel and aluminum imports, according to the Republican from Iowa.
“To be clear, American importers and consumers are paying for these tariffs,” he said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday. “$22 billion out of the pockets of hardworking Americans is not in our national best interest.”
While Trump and his administration claim that tariffs hurt foreign exporters, evidence suggests that businesses and consumers at home pay the price.
“The Trump administration is learning that it is hard to punish someone else by taxing yourself,” said Adam Ozimek, the chief economist at Upwork. “Tariffs harm the domestic economy in addition to those we are imposing them on, so it is difficult to really damage major trading partners significantly without doing a similar amount of economic damage at home.”
At the same time, retaliatory measures have hit American businesses hard. The Department of Agriculture expects farm exports to fall by nearly $2 billion to $141.5 billion in fiscal 2019, largely because of tariffs China levied last year to hit back against the Trump administration.
Trump asserts that his trade wars will ultimately help Americans, by pressuring countries to change business practices he sees as unfair. Seeking to level the playing field for the US, he argues that any short-term pain will be worth it.