Conservative News Outlet Blasts Trump's Ridiculous Tariffs - Which Are Now a Larger Tax on Americans than Obamacare
President Donald Trump's new gigantic series of tariffs is already a disaster, forcing several companies including Walmart and Coca-Cola to raise prices, and endangering up to 11 million jobs. But Trump's core base of supporters doesn't seem to care, or even really register the fact that each tariff is in fact a tax being levied on them.
On Wednesday, an op-ed by Bryan Wiley and Andrew Wilford in the conservative Washington Examiner put it in stark terms, by comparing the cost of the tariffs to the tax increases in the right's favorite longtime bugaboo: the Affordable Care Act. "Trump's tariffs now cost Americans more than Obamacare taxes," the piece blared:
On Sept. 19, President Trump imposed a 10 percent tax on $200 billion of Chinese imports. On Jan. 1, 2019, this tax will rise to 25 percent. But even without that January tariff rate increase, trade taxes on American businesses and consumers will exceed those of the ACA.
With the added $20 billion in trade taxes coming from this latest round of tariffs, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation now estimates the total annual cost of enacted tariffs to be $41.65 billion. That easily outpaces the tax bill from the Affordable Care Act for next year ($34.6 billion) after accounting for recent changes to the ACA.
The $67.2 billion estimated 2019 tax burden of the Affordable Care Act prior to those changes is lower than the cost of new trade taxes once a scheduled $30 billion tariff increase takes effect in January. If every currently proposed tariff is enacted, the total trade tax burden will nearly double even the tax burden of the pre-reform ACA — NTUF estimates the net total of proposed and enacted trade taxes to be $132.55 billion. That would offset more than 70 percent of the $188.8 billion in 2019 individual income tax cuts.
For a right-wing source to point out that the Trump tariffs are costing the American people more than the health care reform the right has spent years vilifying and trying to destroy is truly remarkable — and the fact that Trump's supporters by and large do not seem to care about this lays bare the right's hypocrisy in howling about the ACA being the "biggest tax increase in American history" (which is not true).
In fact, in terms of effects on the average American, Wiley and Wilford probably understate their case, because a great deal of the ACA's tax increases fall specifically on high income earners, like the 0.9 percent additional Medicare tax on people earning over $125,000, and the 3.8 percent surtax on investment income (which is disproportionately earned by the wealthy). By contrast, tariffs on a good will raise prices for that good for all people of all incomes who need to buy it.
One reason Trump supporters may not understand that tariffs are taxes they have to pay is that Trump himself doesn't seem to understand it. In his speeches, he seems to think that other countries are paying the tariffs he is levying on goods in American marketplaces.
Nonetheless, the negative consequences of the trade war are becoming impossible even for Trump to ignore. Faced with the prospect that farmers could lose huge amounts of business from the tariffs, Trump recently revived a farm bailout program designed to pay the very same people who are losing business to his trade policy.
Sooner or later, Republicans will have to come to grips with the damage that Trump is doing to the economy by choking off trade — preferably before markets crash outright.