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ICYMI: Tariffs Enable Arbitrary Exemption Decisions & Crony Capitalism

Aug 16, 2018 by AFP

Americans for Prosperity Senior Policy Fellow Alison Acosta Winters | National Review Online

There are plenty of reasons to oppose tariffs, in theory and in practice — most prominently because they impose higher costs on consumers, workers, and businesses. What’s less reported, though increasingly problematic, is that their proliferation has empowered government bureaucrats ill-suited to the task to pick industry winners and losers.

After years of stagnation, our economy is a great success story that is working for most Americans. Thanks in part to the Trump administration’s support of tax relief and removing regulatory barriers, unemployment is down, wages are up, the stock market is roaring, and hard-working Americans can keep more of their income.

Tariffs, by contrast, make us poorer. They are a tax on consumers, businesses, and workers. Tariffs inflict the most harm on those who can least afford it. They also threaten the tremendous economic gains this administration has fostered.

… Here’s an example of how it works.

On August 7 the Trump administration announced a 25 percent tariff on $16 billion in Chinese imports. (Predictably, China responded swiftly with an identical duty on the same volume of U.S. exports.) Soon the administration will announce the process by which the public can petition for exemptions from these new tariffs.

This will trigger a flood of applications from U.S. companies demanding a carve-out. …

Career employees at the Department of Commerce generally have no industry expertise to balance the arguments, yet they must judge the petitions as if they did. Already, more than 20,000 exemption requests have been filed with the government. They have overwhelmed the feds, who are falling short of their initial goal of a 90-day response.

More to the point, this whole process amounts to an open invitation to businesses everywhere: Send money to Washington to hire lobbyists and politicize the market to grow your profits. …

This is crony capitalism and corporate welfare at their worst.

As you might expect, the companies with the deepest pockets can best capitalize on this situation. And that’s exactly what’s happening.

The Trump administration deserves great credit for many of its pro-growth policies. In addition, the president has articulated a truly exciting vision for zero-tariff trade. But there is a better way to get to no tariffs than through more tariffs — and more corporate welfare.

Instead, the administration should work with trade partners to lower barriers here and abroad to open new opportunities for American companies and workers.

For further information or to set up an interview, please send an email to GBraud@afphq.org.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) exists to recruit, educate, and mobilize citizens in support of the policies and goals of a free society at the local, state, and federal level, helping every American live their dream – especially the least fortunate. AFP has more than 3.2 million activists across the nation, a local infrastructure that includes 36 state chapters, and has received financial support from more than 100,000 Americans in all 50 states. For more information, visit www.AmericansForProsperity.org

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