Republican senators move to stop Trump’s Mexico tariffs


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The stupid party: A half dozen Republican senators have announced their opposition to the escalating tariffs Trump has imposed on Mexico designed to force that country to cooperate on gaining control of illegal immigration.

Joining [Chuck] Grassley [R-Iowa] in opposition to the tariffs were pro-trade Senate Republicans Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Martha McSally of Arizona, John Cornyn of Texas, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Rob Portman of Ohio, whose votes Trump will need to pass the USMCA.

This is the same pattern I’ve seen from Republicans for the past half century. Anytime anyone attempts to do anything that might clean up any of the mess we are in, a bunch jump in, for their own aggrandizement, to stymie it.

The article makes the claim that a border state like Arizona will be hurt by these tariffs. Bah. I live here, and see the harm the illegal immigration is actually doing. First, the flood of illegals is damaging the state’s natural environment, as they leave an incredible amount of trash throughout the wildernesses they travel.

Second, the flood has caused the government to make entering the U.S. a miserable and time-consuming experience for people doing it legally, one that is actually discouraging trade. You want to go to Mexico? You walk or drive across the border in seconds. You want to come back? Expect the wait to be one to two to three hours.

Third, the flood is distorting the market. Illegals have to work in the black market, which means they get badly taken advantage of. At the same time, their presence hurts legal workers, who can’t get work.

Fourth, and most important, the flood of illegals is fueling a rising contempt of the law, both by the illegals as well as American citizens. This in the long run is likely the worst consequence of the federal government’s inability to do its job here effectively.

And as usual, we have a lot of dumb Republicans who will team up with the partisan Democrats (who only want power) to block Trump’s effort, an effort that has already shown a positive effect and might actually fix the problem.

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22 comments

  • Gary

    Agreed that the Republicans are the stupid party, but tariffs are the stupid solution. They’re a blunt instrument that significantly hurts the one imposing them. The tariff war caused the Great Depression. Do we have to repeat that mistake? Why not cut off the millions in U.S. aid to Mexico instead? We keep the money and Mexico has incentive to do something constructive. The situation is a mess, but tariffs won’t fix it.

  • Gary: Trump has the legal power to impose tariffs, though Congress (led by these stupid Republican senators) can override him. Trump does not have the legal power to cut off that aid to Mexico. It was already allocated by Congress.

    Trump therefore is using the best tools he has available.

  • wodun

    Tariffs don’t just hurt the one imposing them, they hurt both sides. It is mutual suffering or mutual gain. I don’t know if they are the best method to use to change behavior in this case but in order for tariffs to be effective, it has to be understood that they are being used to get a specific change of policy, that the parties involved work toward a solution in good faith, that both parties have something to gain, and that it is clear that the tariffs will go away.

    I found this op-ed on tariffs to be a good explainer of how they impact the economy. You might be surprised but the media isn’t exactly being honest in the way they talk about the tariffs. And yes, they are as detrimental as other taxes but they are intended to be limited in duration. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-media-is-lying-to-you-about-trumps-china-tariffs-2019-05-14

    I am not sure why Republicans don’t understand what the strategy is here. Maybe Trump should have them watch this speech from one of America’s greatest political philosophers.

  • wayne

    Tarriffs didn’t cause our great depression, but they didn’t help. Smoot Hawley was passed in the summer of 1930.

  • pzatchok

    The US can take the hit imposed by tariffs. Mexico can not.
    Heck when we imposed alcohol be added to all gas the price of corn went up and Mexicans started to riot because they could not afford tortillas.

  • Edward

    Gary wrote: “Agreed that the Republicans are the stupid party, but tariffs are the stupid solution. They’re a blunt instrument that significantly hurts the one imposing them. The tariff war caused the Great Depression. Do we have to repeat that mistake?

    The comparison of these tariffs and Smoot–Hawley act is inappropriate, in that these tariffs are not intended to protect U.S. jobs or boost the U.S. economy. Even at the time of Smoot-Hawley, many economists already knew that tariffs harmed rather than helped the economy and usually reduced production in the industries they were supposed to protect, resulting in lost jobs.

    Here, the tariffs are intended to encourage a different result. Since the usual negotiations have resulted in more, not fewer, illegal aliens, Mexico’s president Andres Manuel López Obrador’s call for Trump to “deepen the dialogue” instead of using “taxes or coercive measures” in order to resolve the illegal immigration issue seems futile. Dialogue has not helped and seems to have hurt the effort for resolution.

    I am not a fan of tariffs. They are usually misused, just as the Smoot-Hawley tariffs were. Unfortunately, with Congress being hostile to the President in general and being favorable to lawless immigration, the president is running out of tools that he can use in order to resolve the illegal immigration issue.

    Robert missed some of the most compelling reasons for quelling illegal immigration.

    Illegal aliens steal our health care, often disappearing after treatments without paying their bills. They clog our emergency rooms and other medical facilities, delaying care for those who actually pay for treatment (our own and the illegal aliens’s).

    They steal our children’s educations. They require expensive educators or, when they are integrated into regular classrooms, slow down the learning pace.

    Those who work not only take up jobs, they also take up the entry level jobs that our children should have had.

    Those who do not work drain our welfare systems, raising taxes or increasing our debt for our children to pay for later.

    Worse than just “a rising contempt of the law,” Americans are directly harmed by the increase in crime, with many indirect factors contributing to a reduced quality of life in this country.

    Diseases that we thought were gone from this country are making a nasty comeback, due directly to the lack of screening of these illegal aliens. Again, a reduced quality of life in this country.

    These and other reasons are why our ancestors processed immigrants to this country so carefully. We, on the other hand, are amazingly careless about how we defend ourselves from the dangers of self-selected misdemeanants (illegal entry being at least a misdemeanor) and self-proclaimed asylum seekers from countries that aren’t bad enough to flee from.

    What thanks do we get from these people?

    They demand that various states become Mexican territory (so why did they flee Mexico?), bomb our Boston marathon (that family sought asylum, but still visited the country that they fled), and send for their other family members to come here (they consider it to be the land of free stuff). Some thanks.

  • F-16 Bill

    Sun Tzu had a good mind for doing battle. Maybe Trump knows more than we give him credit for?

    1. The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.

    2. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.

  • Arguing about the good or bad of tariffs is missing the point of Trump’s action entirely. His goal is not to restrict trade with Mexico. His goal is to force Mexico to start enforcing its own immigration laws and stop acting in a way that is harmful to the U.S. Once Mexico does this Trump will instantly drop the tariffs.

    Note too that Trump recognizes that though these tariffs will harm our economy, the harm will be minor compared to the harm presently being experienced by the flood of illegal immigrants. It will also be very temporary if the negotiations go as Trump hopes. The goal is to get Mexico to work with us, so that free trade can resume.

    The sad thing about this are the Republicans in Congress who are too stupid to see this, and are therefore publicly opposing Trump.

  • Dick Eagleson

    All this controversy has done is smoke out the leading Republican members of what I have long referred to as the Bi-Partisan Cheap Labor Caucus. There are Republicans who have sold themselves to the various American business interests who like the current porous border and want to maintain the status quo.

  • wayne

    Dick–
    Nail, on the head.

    Martha McSally of Arizona, John Cornyn of Texas, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Rob Portman of Ohio = definitely RINO’s, phony-crony’s and/or progressive-republican’s, to their core.

  • wayne

    “Tariffs, Inflation, Anti-Trust and Cartels”
    (Lecture 6 of 13)
    Murray N. Rothbard
    from “The American Economy and the End of Laissez Faire; 1870 to WW-2”
    https://youtu.be/wTP_Zmwobu8
    (1:47:38)

  • wayne

    “If I Wanted America to FAIL”
    Free Market America
    April 2012
    https://youtu.be/S6h9IJ15rdQ
    4:38

  • Gary

    @Robert Zimmerman,
    Agreed that Trump has limited control over Congressional budgeting, yet it would be a less self-destructive weapon than tariffs. I just hope Trump is surgical in the use of tariffs and doesn’t end up distorting the economy so much he jeopardizes re-election.

    @wayne,
    It was clear in the fall of 1929 that Congress would pass Smoot-Hawley and the markets anticipated the severe restriction in trade. Once that happened the cascading effect was uncontrollable.

    @edward,
    If everybody knows the tariffs will be temporary, why respond to them? What happens then? More tariffs? Things can get very out of hand very quickly.

  • commodude

    Even bringing Smoot Hawley into the discussion is a strawman, as those tarriffs were, on average, 59%. this is a shot across the bow to the Mexican economy, as if they DON’T clean up their act, the tariffs will make continued production in Mexico for the US markets an untenable proposition.

    Smoot-Hawley was a global tariff on almost all consumer goods, these are targeted tariffs used against one country for a specific reason.

    The two are in no way comparable.

  • Edward

    Gary asked: “If everybody knows the tariffs will be temporary, why respond to them? What happens then? More tariffs?

    Why respond? Ask Mexico’s president. He is responding far more vocally now than when there was the ineffective dialog that he says should be deepened.

    What happens when López Obrador responds? It depends upon how he responds. Raising tariffs or adding tariffs on American goods will make the tariffs not temporary, so maybe responding to Trump’s tariffs is reasonable after all.

    No matter what, Trump has once again shaken up the status quo in yet another system that is broken and needs fixing desperately. Only time will tell whether this or any of the systems will be better once Trump is through with them.

  • Garry

    The republicans aren’t the Stupid Party; they’re a party led by corrupt politicians who pretend to have the same goals as their members but are really on the other side.

    The Tea Party (and H. Ross Perot before them) was a bigger threat to the Republicans than to the Democrats, because the Tea Party actually tried to act on the principles that the Republicans pretend to promote. For the same reason, President Trump is a bigger threat to the Republicans than to the Democrats.

    The only help the party has given him has been on approving judges and justices.

    Many important vacancies remain in the executive branch, because Mitch McConnell refuses to bring them up for a vote. Even more damning, any senator could singlehandedly take action to allow recess appointments, yet the Senate has not been in official recess for most, if not all, of President Trump’s term.

    Most the prominent Republicans are beholden to the US Chamber of Commerce, which is only interested in big business, most of it multinationals. They don’t care at all about mom and pop’s, they don’t care at all about American jobs, they just want to help the big boys, and a huge chunk of that is geting cheap labor wherever they can get it. Whether that’s in China or illegals working in the US is all the same to them.

    USMCA, the replacement for NAFTA, is the first trade agreement in decades that the US Chamber of commerce didn’t write, and their members stand to lose a lot from it. The good news is that if USMCA is not ratified, the President has the power to void NAFTA.

    Mitch McConnell has a lot to lose in the trade war with China; he owns a major shipping company that would suffer. I have no idea why his Chinese wife is Secretary of Transportation.

    Justin Amash, the Republican who just went on record supporting impeachment, owns a tool company that has its tools made in China.

    I could go on, but the gist is that with few exceptions, Republican politicians benefit greatly from illegal immigration and/or unfair trade policy. Although I reluctantly voted for President Trump, I now see him as one of the few honest brokers in Washington; if anyone had any real dirt on him, it would have come out by now. Instead of investigating the finances of a President who entered office a very rich man, we should investigate the Congress critters who made their vast fortunes while in office.

    Tariffs are one of the few tools the President can deploy. I suspect that tariffs are a means to an end and will be reduced/dropped once the real end is achieved.

    Besides, tariffs aren’t all bad; before we had an income tax, the bulk of our federal revenue came from tariffs. I’d trade income tax and a bloated government for tariffs (essentially voluntary taxes) and a smaller, leaner, less intrusive government, any day of the week.

    Of course they can harmful if overdone, but we’re nowhere near that point.

  • commodude

    Garry, Senator McConnell owns no shipping company, that story is a false narrative. There are plenty of reasons to dislike the denizens of the swamp, we could at least stick to the truth. Sec. Chao is a naturalized American citizen whose family came to the US from Taiwan.

    With all the actual reasons to dislike the creatures who inhabit the swamp, let’s stick to facts and ignore the rantings of the lunatic fringe, shall we?

  • wayne

    commodude–
    good stuff.

  • wayne

    Austrian Business Cycle Theory
    Tom Woods
    2014
    https://youtu.be/9a-eUKjnDfM
    7:59

    (Excerpted from his 2009 lecture entitled “Why You’ve Never Heard of the Great Depression of 1920.”)

  • m d mill

    In the interim, why not…
    rebate all the money collected in Chinese and Mexico tariffs directly to all U.S. citizens equally in a yearly check (perhaps over $1300 per family)! This will help offset increased consumer costs.

    It will be wildly popular and blunt the objections of critics who will rightly say this is just a tax increase on the middle class that facilitates an increase of government spending. This still achieves most of the Presidents tariff goals of pressure on China and mexico and greatly reduces the burden on the middle class consumer, especially if the tariff rates must be increased further…a WIN WIN!!

  • wodun

    But then Americans might not want to get rid of the tariffs when/if they accomplish their goal.

  • Cotour

    They are an enemy Madam Speaker!

    https://thehill.com/homenews/house/447109-pelosi-trump-treating-mexico-like-an-enemy

    When your trading “friend” facilitates and participates in the illegal invasion of your country what else would you consider them?

    Just one more dopey reason that the Democrats and who leads them will suffer greatly in the coming 2020 elections. No doubt in my mind.

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