Trump and his tariffs are like a kid with a new toy. Except that it matters that Trump has no idea how tariffs actually work. He apparently believes that imposing a 5 percent tariff on goods from Mexico will punish Mexico, with no consequencess to U.S. business and consumers. And it appears his own advisers have been unable to explain to him that’s not how it works. See “DISASTROUS”: DOW SINKS AS MARKETS REALIZE TRUMP REALLY IS THIS STUPID at Vanity Fair.
My question is, why isn’t anyone taking real action to stop him? He isn’t supposed to have the power to impose tariffs, anyway, the Constitution says. He is assuming power a president doesn’t constitutionally have by taking advantage of an “emergency powers” law. From CNN:
One key thing to know is that the emergency powers he is using evolved from the need for the President to act with decisive authority during war, specifically World War I. The Great Depression prompted the expansion of emergency powers to include economic emergencies, according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service. (This piece uses many facts from that analysis, which is worth reading.)
These powers were used throughout the Cold War until the 1970s, when, according to CRS, Congress basically realized the US had been in a state of emergency for 40 years and put new restrictions on the President, including requirements to track the cost of any emergency and justify it each year.
The law by which Trump can impose sanctions like the tariffs, passed in the wake of Watergate and Vietnam, is the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act. This authority has actually been used quite frequently; there have been 54 national emergencies, 29 of which are ongoing. …
… The law has never, before now, been used to impose tariffs, according to CRS. And Mexico is a neighbor and ally, from which we bought $345 billion in stuff last year because we are joined together in the North American Free Trade Agreement.
I understand that people did try to explain to Trump that the new tariff could screw up his NAFTA 2.0 deal. Some business groups are considering a lawsuit.
They’ll [the tariffs] affect the supply chain for the US auto industry, machinery, medical instruments, not to mention the avocados and tomatoes in American salads, fruit, vegetables. All of it.
And it’s a two-way street. Americans sold just shy of $300 billion in goods to Mexico in 2018 — cars, machinery, pork and beef. Billions and billions dollars worth of many different type of goods that might be subject to retaliatory tariffs from Mexico.
As Bess Levin wrote,
Tariffs, of course, are usually used to counter trade violations as opposed to being a blunt instrument to deal with border security, but reason and logic have no place in this administration. If they did, someone would have likely been able to get it through Trump’s head that this move will badly damage the U.S. interests, a point that has thus far eluded him.
Congress could shut down Tariff Man by tomorrow, seems to me, One assumes the Senate doesn’t act because of the Republican majority, but what about the House? What about the several hundred Democratic presidential candidates? I see Julián Castro has spoken out; not sure about anyone else. Why aren’t there many very loud voices saying that Trump is using a power he’s not supposed to have, and it’s hurting people?