It’s Economics Stupid

Look, a Tariff is a Tax placed on Consumers and Businesses of the Country imposing the Tariff as a disincentive to purchase Imports from a particular provider. By definition. Now there are other offensive (especially to Free Traders) economic actions that one can take like Blockades (depriving someone of a necessary Input) and Embargos (refusing to sell your goods to a specific customer, like China is going to do to us with Rare Earths if we provoke it), but those are not Taxes.

A tariff is a Tax.

Now Republicans, what do they hate? That’s right, they hate Taxes.

GOP lawmakers warn White House they’ll try to block Trump’s Mexico tariffs
By Erica Werner, Seung Min Kim, Damian Paletta, and Mary Beth Sheridan, Wasington Post
June 4, 2019

Defiant Republican senators warned Trump administration officials Tuesday they were prepared to block the president’s effort to impose tariffs on Mexican imports, threatening to assemble a veto-proof majority to mount their most direct confrontation with the president since he took office.

During a closed-door lunch on Capitol Hill, at least a half-dozen senators spoke in opposition to the tariffs President Trump intends to levy next week in an attempt to force Mexico to limit Central American migration to the United States. No senator spoke in support, according to multiple people present who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

The lawmakers told officials from the White House and Justice Department they probably had the Senate votes they needed to take action on the tariffs, even if that meant overriding a veto.

“There is not much support in my conference for tariffs — that’s for sure,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). He said senators hope that negotiations with Mexico will be “fruitful” and that the tariffs will not happen. Most GOP senators strongly oppose tariffs because they view them as taxes on Americans.

The contentious lunch meeting occurred just hours after Trump, during a news conference in London, reiterated his intention to impose the tariffs next week and said it would be “foolish” for Republican senators to try to stop him.

“Mexico shouldn’t allow millions of people to try and enter our country, and they could stop it very quickly and I think they will,” Trump said at a news conference alongside British Prime Minister Theresa May. “And if they won’t, we’re going to put tariffs on. And every month those tariffs go from 5 percent to 10 percent to 15 percent to 20 and then to 25 percent.”

The escalating tension between Trump and Senate Republicans came on the eve of a critical meeting at the White House on Wednesday between U.S. and Mexican officials, led by Vice President Pence and including an array of top officials from the Mexican government. The goal on the Mexican side is to head off the tariffs — the country sends 80 percent of its exports to the United States and counts it as its top trading partner.

But Mexican officials have been confused about what precisely the White House is demanding in exchange for the tariffs to be withdrawn, and White House officials will not say exactly what Trump wants. Some White House officials believe the meeting will mark the beginning of earnest negotiations that will pick up in intensity after the tariffs have been in place for a while. But many GOP senators view the imposition of the tariffs as unacceptable, and even as they hoped for a positive outcome from Wednesday’s talks they weighed their options for stopping the levies.

The exact process for a vote to block the tariffs remained unclear, but the basic scenario arises from the national emergency Trump declared at the southern border earlier this year to get more money for his border wall. Imposition of tariffs on all Mexican goods requires a legal justification, and administration officials say the existing emergency declaration could provide the basis for that, although it’s also possible Trump would declare a new emergency.

But the law that provides for presidential emergency declarations also allows Congress to vote to overturn them. When Trump declared the border emergency earlier this year, Congress voted to overturn it, but Trump vetoed the measure and Congress failed to override the veto.

This time, opponents of Trump’s tariffs say they have enough support in the Senate to override a veto. If so, it would be the first successful veto override vote in the Trump presidency and a striking defeat for Trump — even if the House ultimately sustains the president’s veto. A two-thirds vote is required in each chamber to override a veto, and Republicans in the House have shown scant interest in defying the president.

Afterward, some Republicans emerged from the lunch convinced that opposition to Trump’s proposed levies on Mexico runs so deep that GOP senators could produce a veto-proof margin on a disapproval resolution.

“I sure do,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said when asked whether he thought there would be at least 20 Republican votes to reject Trump’s tariffs on Mexico — which would constitute a veto-proof margin in combination with Democratic opposition. “There’s just a weariness of tariffs as the only tool in the tool kit that gets used.”

But senators were uncertain after the lunch about how Trump would proceed if he does impose the tariffs, and his actions will dictate their response.

Trump shocked U.S. lawmakers and Mexican leaders last week by announcing that he would impose a 5 percent tariff on all goods imported from Mexico on June 10, and then increase the levies each month if Mexico doesn’t crack down on migrants.

GOP lawmakers warned White House officials that the tariffs could imperil the chances of passing an overhaul of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, but Trump has remained undeterred.

Trump’s tone as he addressed reporters in London contrasted with that of Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who said at a news conference in Washington on Tuesday that he thought his country had an 80 percent chance of reaching a deal.

Mexico has undertaken a vigorous offensive to avert the U.S. tariffs. Mexico’s economic minister, its agriculture minister and others are meeting with U.S. counterparts, and delegations of Mexican lawmakers and business leaders traveled to Washington to warn against the tariffs.

This may or may not turn out to be a big deal, but there is no doubt that the Tariff concept itself is deeply stupid (also Bigoted and Racist).