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June 18, 2019

Bad and easy to lose: There’s no light at the end of Trump’s trade war tunnel

May 15, 2019
Going down. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Larry Kudlow, the White House national economic adviser, did the one unforgivable thing Sunday: He contradicted Trumpist tripe and told the truth.

Pressed by Fox News’ Chris Wallace to say who pays when the U.S. slaps tariffs on China — the president keeps claiming that it’s our competitors who foot the bill — Kudlow admitted: Yep, American importers and, by extension, consumers pay, via higher prices on imported goods.

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Never mind the spasm of honesty. Back to our regularly scheduled escalation, whereby the president is hellbent on winning a trade conflict that, to this point, only has losers on both sides of the world.

Friday, as talks between negotiators broke down, the U.S. slapped tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese products. Monday, the Chinese retaliated with tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods — including on animal products, frozen fruits, vegetables, plus baking condiments, chemicals and vodka. Now, Trump threatens digging even deeper in.

The stock market went into free-fall. To minimize the damage, Trump pushed for another $15 billion in subsidies to farmers losing out because their products now cost more. That’s above the $12 billion he authorized last year when he launched the trade war.

Which means Americans pay for the tariffs not once, but twice. First, consumers lose by paying more for Chinese products. Second, taxpayers pick up the tab by bailing out “great patriot” farmers who absorb economic pain for the motherland.

With each new round of economic penalties, Trump tells Americans the clouds will break and the light will soon shine through. Right after they pay more, and more, and more.

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