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New report: Trump trade plan to cost American families $1,500 apiece.

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New report: Trump trade plan to cost American families $1,500 apiece.

Mar 31, 2024 | 9:00 am ET
By Ed Tibbetts
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New report: Trump trade plan to cost American families $1,500 apiece.
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A second trade war could cost American families $1,500 a year, a new study reports. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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Iowa’s congressional delegation has been screaming for months about inflation. Of course, they blame President Joe Biden. However, a new study warns that Donald Trump’s plan for a universal 10% tariff on all foreign imports would raise taxes on the typical American household by $1,500 a year.

Don’t expect Iowa’s congressional delegation to object. If the choice is between protecting your paycheck or protecting Donald Trump, they’ll choose Trump every time.

This latest study was conducted by the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund, or CAP. But it’s not just liberals who are warning about Trump’s plans for a new trade war if he wins a second term. Even conservatives — real conservatives — are alarmed.

Back in February, I cited an analyst from the Tax Foundation who characterized Trump’s plan to impose a 60% tariff on all Chinese imports as a “massive tax increase on American purchases from China.” The 10% universal tariff plan would raise taxes by more than $300 billion a year, the foundation says.

We saw previously what Trump’s trade war did to Iowa’s economy, in particular the American soybean market. Some of that damage was offset by welfare payments the Trump administration approved for American farmers. But what about the American public in general — the families who had to pay higher prices for Trump’s failed trade experiment?

The CAP study says Trump’s 10% tariff plan would mean a $90 increase in food costs; a $90 increase for prescription drugs; a $120 increase on gas and petroleum products. And that’s only part of the damage. This wouldn’t be a one-off, either. As the study points out, “these households would continue to pay the tax every year the tariff remained in place.”

Yet, none of this is resonating in Iowa.

The state’s congressional delegation isn’t standing up for farmers who would be put at risk.

They’re not standing up for Iowa families who would see big price increases.

Even the mainstream media shows little interest.

Frankly, I would like to know why Reps. Ashley Hinson, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Zach Nunn and Randy Feenstra are backing a candidate for president who has promised policies that would raise prices on American families.

A couple of weeks ago, Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley signed on to a letter criticizing the Biden administration for failing to sign free trade agreements with other countries. But have you once heard them warn about the consequences of Trump’s universal tariff?

Trump’s allies have said his tax, energy and deregulation policies would offset the increase in prices due to higher tariffs, according to the Washington Post. But even if that were true, why impose such broad tariffs in the first place? Studies have shown Trump’s first trade war didn’t work. In fact, it cost us jobs. Why would this be any different?

It’s true that Biden has kept many of Trump’s tariffs in place, but Trump’s second term throw-everything-at-the wall approach would be far more damaging to Americans. (The Biden administration, which has held free trade agreements at bay, says it has a better, worker-centered strategy to improve the economy and make the U.S. more competitive with China by making major investments in infrastructure and manufacturing.)

For states like Iowa, trade policy is an important issue for 2024. Not just because of the inflationary impacts that Trump’s plan will have on Iowa families but for the damage it will do to agriculture, which undoubtedly will be targeted for retaliatory tariffs. Just like the last time.

This issue needs a lot more attention in this state. Inflation is still a top concern for voters. Conditions are improving, but prices are still high.

Republicans shouldn’t be allowed to just blame Biden without being asked why they’re supporting a candidate who’s dead set on imposing higher prices down the road.

The CAP study, not to mention the warnings being sounded by conservatives, economists and market analysts, make clear Trump’s trade policies will cost Americans a lot more money. In the grocery store, at the gasoline pump, and in plenty of other places.

It’s long past time that Trump’s allies in Iowa explain why they’re on board with this.

This column was originally published by Ed Tibbetts’ Along the Mississippi newsletter on Substack. It is republished here through the Iowa Writers’ Collaborative.

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