Trump’s odd claim US can pay down national debt ‘because of tariffs’

By Orange County Register

Breaking views are thoughts from individual members of the editorial board on today’s headlines.

On Sunday, President Trump took to Twitter, as he does, to argue that the tariffs his administration has imposed “are working big time.”

It’s a peculiar claim for a number of reasons, including the fact that his administration has announced $12 billion in emergency aid to farmers to ease the impact of the president’s trade policies.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has estimated that, if the Trump administration extended the same emergency aid to all American industries harmed by tariffs, the cost would be $39 billion.

Meanwhile, the Tax Foundation has estimated “the tariffs enacted so far by the Trump administration would reduce long-run GDP by 0.06 percent ($15.7 billion) and wages by 0.04 percent and eliminate 48,585 full-time equivalent jobs.”

So it’s difficult to see on what basis President Trump can actually declare that tariffs are “working” beyond working to destroy jobs and raise costs to consumers.

But President Trump unfortunately goes a step further to argue that “Because of Tariffs we will be able to start paying down large amounts of the $21 trillion in debt that has been accumulated…”

This is a remarkable claim.

To date, Trump administration has imposed tariffs on roughly $85 billion worth of goods. Revenues in the tens of billions of dollars, if dropped entirely on national debt reduction, could, I suppose, be considered “paying down large amounts” if by “large amounts” one rightly considers tens of billions of dollars a large amount.

But relative to the national debt, it isn’t much.

While Trump took a shot at President Obama for trillion dollar deficits which took place under his presidency, there are trillion dollar deficits still on the way under Trump.

The projected $1.1 trillion deficit projected in 2019 alone dwarfs whatever revenues tariffs will generate.

It should also be noted that while Trump touts the tariffs as a means of enriching the United States and paying down the national debt, he also says this is all being done even as the U.S. is “reducing taxes for our people.”

But tariffs, as taxes on imports, in turn lead to higher costs to consumers. American consumers, poor, rich and middle-class alike.

Fundamentally, Trump’s trade rhetoric and policies to date are harmful to U.S. consumers, workers and businesses.

The sooner the tariffs his administration has imposed are ended, the better.

This article provided by NewsEdge.