Greg Sargent at WaPo has a fascinating look at the potential domestic economic effects of Chinese tariffs issued in response to Trump’s tariffs. In two separate rounds of tariffs, the Chinese have targeted major U.S. industries including soybeans, planes, cars, and more limited industries like hog farming and fruits.
The earlier, more minor round of tariffs, per Sargent and a Brookings analysis, put about 276,000 U.S. jobs at risk, 150,000 of which were located in counties that voted for Trump in the 2016 election. But as bad as that is, the second round could hit those counties even harder:
The grand total of jobs that are in industries targeted by both rounds of China’s threatened tariffs: Nearly 2 million jobs, over 1 million of which are in Trump counties, and over 900,000 of which are in Clinton counties.
“This is a much more industrial story, and potentially much more consequential, ” Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings, told me, adding that while blue territory like Washington State and California is implicated, China’s latest tariffs mean “red counties and the manufacturing heartland are hit hard.”
The latest round of proposed Chinese tariffs—far more serious and widespread than the first—came after an announcement earlier this week that the White House was planning to impose a 25 percent tariff on more than 1,300 imported Chinese goods, which was itself a major step up from earlier steel and aluminum tariffs spread across the globe.
None of these second-round tariffs have actually been imposed yet, so there’s hope that this isn’t heading for an all-out U.S.—China trade war. But it’s certainly moving in that general direction, and U.S. workers in Trump-land are set to pay the biggest price. Per Sargent:
...these recent moves appear impulsively timed “in order to preserve his support base and the vocal backing of conservative media.” Trump is stoking xenophobic tensions on not one, but two fronts — only this time, he’s doing so via the undertaking of policy actions that could have all sorts of unforeseen complexities and consequences, without giving any apparent thought to them in the least, even as he drifts deeper and deeper into Foxlandia.
These impulsive moves, including sending the national guard to the Mexican border, seem designed to appeal to his base on two of his main campaign issues: Immigrants and the Chinese. It’s a sad irony, then, that the people he convinced to vote for him stand to be hurt the most by policies that are being pushed through without the slightest thought to broader consequences.