Washington should stop fooling Americans as anxiety over tariffs mounts
As a new autumn semester started on Tuesday, students were heading back to school across the US. Yet this time, their parents were joyless.
As Washington has placed steep tariffs on billions of US dollars’ worth of products from China, commodities ranging from textbooks and stationery to clothing and footwear – all necessities for school kids – have become more expensive.
Refuting Washington’s repetitive claim that China is footing the bill for the tariffs, multiple analyses showed that US businesses are bearing the brunt, and that some of the pain has been subsequently passed onto consumers, whose spending drives some 70 percent of the US economy.
Thereinto, low-income families suffer the most, as their spending on clothing, footwear and other items occupies a bigger portion of their total expenditure compared to highearning households.
A research released in midaugust by Jpmorgan Chase estimated that if Washington levies tariffs on another $300 billion worth of Chinese imports, US households could face an additional cost of about $1,000 a year from all US tariffs on China.
The combined tariffs scheduled for September 1, October 1 and December 15 “will cost the average American household $621 a year in new taxes,” the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTU) said on August 29.
“When it comes to trade policy, the Trump administration is in a hole that it keeps digging deeper,” said Bryan Riley, director of NTU’S Free Trade Initiative. “The White House should remove its ineffective and selfdestructive tariffs.”
An analysis by Washingtonbased Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) in August found that with the September 1 tariffs kicking in, the percentage of US consumer goods subject to the levies will rise from 29 percent to 69 percent. And it will reach 99 percent if new additional tariffs threatened by Washington are fully implemented on December 15.
US consumers are acutely aware of the adverse situation their own government has put them in. The latest Consumer Sentiment Index released Friday by the University of Michigan registered the biggest monthly decline since December 2012, dropping 8.6 points from July to 89.8.
Such tariffs on China “act to increase uncertainty and diminish consumer spending at home. Unlike the repeated tariff reversals, negative trends in consumer sentiment cannot be easily reversed,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist of the survey.
US businesses are also upset. During the week-long public hearings on the “$300 billion list” of Chinese products on June 17-25, frustration and desperation clouded the over 300 business representatives who testified before the Congress. Juvenile products vendors cried infants’ safety will be in jeopardy if prices of items like child safety seats become unbearably high because of the tariffs.
It is crystal clear that Washington’s hawkish trade policy on China, inflicting pain on its own people, has aroused more and more resentment in the US.
It is high time for trade hardliners in Washington to stop fooling US businesses and consumers and heed their concerns immediately. This is a commentary of the Xinhua News Agency. opin[email protected] globaltimes.com.cn