Tariff Man, that sounds like a bad comic book antihero. President Donald Trump announced that he is a tariff man and that the tariffs he implemented have increased tax revenue and they will make the United States an economic powerhouse.

He tweeted this on Tuesday morning:

“I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN,” he said. 

This was in the context of about four different tweets which you can read below:

Just a reminder, tariffs are taxes. China does not pay those taxes, American consumers do. 

Tariffs also hurt American exporters, here in Iowa, soybean farmers and pork producers are feeling Tariff Man’s policies most acutely. An Iowa State University study last summer showed President Trump’s approach to trade could cost Iowa agriculture up to $2 billion dollars. The High Plains Journal reported in September:

A new study led by John Crespi, interim director at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University, shows the impact of trade disruptions due to tariffs estimated losses to Iowa’s gross state product in the range of $1 billion to $2 billion.

“The farm crisis of the 1980s, of course, was much worse because it also came at a time of very high interest rates and record farm debt,” Crespi said. “An interesting déjá vu with the farm crisis of the 1980s is that much of the impact was linked to policies out of Washington.”

The CARD study calculates Iowa’s soybean industry facing losses between $159 million and $891 million. Iowa’s corn industry may lose between $90 million and $579 million. Losses in the hog industry could be $558 million to $955 million. Ethanol production is estimated to lose $150 million.

How the prices react to changes in exports will have a large impact on the losses noticed. “For farmers, the obvious question is where and how much of your product will you sell this year and next year, and for what price?” Crespi said. “But the harder question is what happens in two, three or 10 years if the trade wars continue? You could find that the U.S. loses so much market share that a decade from now, even if you get rid of the tariffs, the U.S. may be a smaller player.”

Strangely, Tariff Man mentions nothing about this. Yes, we have a new agreement with Mexico and Canada, but, frankly, there’s little evidence that agreement could not have happened without talk of trade wars and tariffs. 

Photo credit: Michael Vadon (CC-By-SA 4.0)

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