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ARLINGTON, VA – Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and The LIBRE Initiative, part of the Stand Together community, sent a letter to Congress Tuesday urging lawmakers to play a greater role in tariff policy and to help prevent further unilateral tariff increases by the president. Several bipartisan bills have been introduced in Congress that would require congressional review or approval of tariff increases proposed by a president, such as S. 287 introduced by Sen. Pat Toomey.
The organizations stressed that the addition of tariffs on Mexican imports on top of the existing and other threatened tariffs represents a massive tax increase on the American people levied without congressional approval.
AFP and The LIBRE Initiative also argue that the Mexico tariffs are the wrong approach to addressing the nation’s immigration challenges. Congress should instead work with the president to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.
In the letter, Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips and The LIBRE Initiative President Daniel Garza write:
Tariffs are taxes paid by Americans, and the president’s tariffs on Mexican imports would cost Americans $17 billion a year at 5 percent, and $87 billion at 25 percent. If these and other threatened tariff increases are added to the nearly $70 billion in tariffs implemented over the past 18 months, the cost to Americans would be $303 billion a year, or $3 trillion over ten years – and, according to the National Taxpayer Union Foundation the largest tax hike in post-World War II history.
Our nation’s trade policies should be used to increase economic growth and opportunity. Indeed, reductions in U.S. tariffs since World War II have boosted our economy by 7.3 percent translating to additional income of $10,000 per American household according to the 2015 Economic Report of the President. Because tariffs are a tax on Americans and hurt our economy, increasing tariffs to advance national security interests should be extremely rare, and always done with the oversight and approval of Congress. Unfortunately, under existing laws, Congress has delegated to U.S. presidents unilateral authority to increase tariffs.
Moreover, these tariffs are unlikely to help address the nation’s immigration challenges. The best way to accomplish that is for Congress and the president to work together to update laws that have not been changed in decades, and which do not work as intended. In fact, to the extent they harm the Mexican economy, tariffs may have the unintended effect of increasing pressure for unlawful immigration.
Given the potential damage to our economy and our national interests, we believe it is time for Congress to reclaim its constitutionally mandated authority to impose tariffs, and to prevent further unilateral tariff increases by the president. There are currently a number of bipartisan proposals in Congress to do just that. We urge your quick and decisive action.