Magazine April 2, 2018, Issue

Trump’s Tariff Mistake

President Trump holds up a proclamation during a White House ceremony to establish tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum at the White House, March 8, 2018. (Leah Millis/Reuters)
It is not a solution to any economic problem

A minor motif of the defenses of President Trump’s new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum has been a challenge to the critics: What’s your alternative solution to the problem?

That the question is asked is a sign that a positive defense of the tariffs has been elusive. It is not seriously disputed that these tariffs, like the ones that President Bush imposed on steel imports and President Obama imposed on Chinese tire imports, will inflict net harm on the economy, especially by raising the price of inputs that American companies use. Those who wish to defend the tariffs, whether out

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Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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