The Biden administration is clueless on trade

The Biden administration is hopelessly ambivalent and unprincipled on trade.  Messaging from the White House hasn't been overtly pro–free trade, nor has it been sympathetic to protection.  Rather, Biden and his Cabinet have vacillated and espoused meaningless platitudes when confronted with the tariff question. 

Trade representative Katherine Tai is ideologically vacuous on matters of trade policy but has voiced support for keeping the Trump tariffs on $350 billion of Chinese goods (roughly two thirds of all Chinese imports).  This would be the most advantageous to the American worker as well as to national security.  Veteran economic liberal Janet Yellen, however, favors slashing the tariffs significantly.  Though this may satisfy other trade-liberalizing ideologues in the Cabinet, it would be to the detriment of the American worker and would put us at a strategic disadvantage at the negotiation table.

Katherine Tai, to her credit, has repeatedly echoed the latter sentiment.  Some have hinted that Biden will be lifting duties on only $10 billion's worth of Chinese imports.  This, ultimately, would be inconsequential and nothing more than an attempt to assuage the free trade wing of the Cabinet.  The idea that this move would have any effect on reducing inflation is laughable. 

The Trump tariffs, much to the chagrin of the Biden team, are overwhelmingly popular.  The unions like them, American manufacturers like them, and much of Congress likes them.  Tim Ryan — a relatively moderate Democrat from Ohio — recently urged Biden to keep the Trump tariffs.  Ryan, who represents a blue-collar manufacturing district, understands the adverse effects of the global inundation of cheap imports into the domestic economy.

This is yet another Hail Mary from the Biden administration in an attempt to curb spiraling inflation.  His people know full well that rolling back the Trump tariffs would have a minuscule impact on inflation and would probably be politically unwise.  Let us all hope the Trump tariffs prevail.

Image: Picryl.

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