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A little common sense on tariffs, please

June 6, 2018 05:27 pm

Some businesses in the Twin County region are in favor of President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and metals such as aluminum. Business owners said they prefer to pay a little more for American steel in expectation of a loftier payoff — creation of more American jobs.

This, said U.S. Rep. John Faso, is probably wishful thinking, not to mention poor economic planning by the White House. “These tariffs are going to hurt small manufacturers and their workers by raising the cost of their goods,” the 19th District congressman from Kinderhook said Monday.

Faso has been visiting businesses across the district that produce aluminum window frames, aerospace components, outdoor furniture parts and specialty metal components. He warned that a tariff war is just beginning.

“All of these businesses will be harmed,” Faso said Friday. In addition, the tariffs will invite retaliation against U.S. exports, especially agricultural exports such as fruit and dairy products, Faso said. Retaliation couldn’t come at a worse time for dairy farmers, who are already watching wholesale milk prices crater.

The definition of “tariff” is a simple one. A tariff is a tax on exports or imports. But the process is often self-defeating and complex. One tariff begets another, and so forth. But tariffs are double-edged swords. They can make American goods more desirable overseas and increase the number of jobs at home.

But we agree with Faso on this point: Hitting Canada and Mexico with steel and aluminum tariffs to stop Chinese manufacturers from flooding markets with these metals and protect American workers is wishful thinking. More likely, Twin County farmers and small metal-working enterprises will bear the brunt of these new tariffs. If that happens, the local economy will take a hit of its own.