Aug 23, 2023, 6:27am EDT

Lukewarm response to Trump tariff plan

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Even economists in Donald Trump’s circle were cringing Tuesday at the former president’s suggestion of a 10% tariff on all goods entering the United States.

The proposal, economists left and right said, could trigger retaliatory tariffs from adversaries and allies alike — hiking prices across the board for American firms and consumers.

“You worry about what the repercussions would be,” Stephen Moore, an outside advisor to Trump, told Semafor. “You don’t want to spark a trade war.”

Moore said he didn’t “fully agree” with the idea, but that it had “interesting aspects,” and argued it could be structured to create jobs in the U.S.

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Trump mentioned the idea in a Fox Business interview last Thursday, but — perhaps in a measure of how little attention the former president’s words now get — it took The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein to call attention to the plan yesterday.


In the interview, Trump described the tariffs as a “ring around the collar” of the American economy.

Kyle Pomerleau, a tax expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told Semafor the proposed levy could raise about $300 billion in new revenue from US firms and consumers. “Ultimately, both Americans and our trading partners are going to be poorer due to this policy,” he said.

During his first term, Trump erected new trade barriers that severed the US from decades of free trade policy and turned it into a more combative power. He slapped tariffs on goods ranging from solar panels, steel and aluminum. He clashed with Beijing and imposed tariffs on up to $360 billion worth of Chinese imports — much of which remains in place under President Biden.

Moore said he believes Trump will talk up trade as a “big part” of his economic platform. “He thinks we’re being taken advantage of and these relationships haven’t worked out in the interest of the United States as part of the whole ‘put America first’ banner.”