Trump had no choice but Mexicans tariffs

BY MARC A. THIESSEN Washington Post Writers Group


President Donald Trump is understandably frustrated by the crisis at the border. Anyone who watched the video of more than 1,000 illegal migrants sneaking through a hole in a fence near El Paso, Texas – the largest single breach of our border ever recorded – and still says we don’t need a border wall is in denial.

There were nearly 133,000 apprehensions at the southern border in May – the highest level since 2007. But unlike past border surges, when most of the illegal migrants were single men, the vast majority today are either families with children (84,542 in May) or unaccompanied minors (11,507). Our Border Patrol is not equipped to handle it.

Tariffs are the wrong tool to address this crisis. But Congress has denied Trump the right tools. On May 1, the president asked Congress for $4.5 billion in emergency border security funding – a request that included $3.3 billion for humanitarian assistance at the border but no money for a border wall. It’s been more than a month now, and what has Congress done? Absolutely nothing.

Perhaps his threats will work. A high-level delegation of Mexican officials is in Washington to defuse the crisis. The Mexican economy shrank by 0.2% in the first quarter of 2019 and showed almost no growth in the fourth quarter of 2018. Mexico cannot afford a trade war with the United States. But if a deal is not reached and Trump goes ahead with tariffs on Mexico, it could also have disastrous, unintended consequences for this country.

First, this showdown with Mexico comes just as we engaged China in a trade war. Unlike his threats against Mexico, which are opposed by many in his own party, Trump’s decision to confront Beijing on its theft of intellectual property, forced technology transfers and barriers for U.S. businesses to compete in sectors of China’s economy has strong bipartisan support. But a trade war with Mexico would undermine the trade war with China.

Imposing tariffs on Mexico would help China maximize pain for U.S. businesses and consumers. Why? China and Mexico provide us with many of the same kinds of products. Right now, many American families and businesses that buy those products can avoid the 25% tax on Chinese products by buying the same kinds of items from Mexico. But, as my American Enterprise Institute colleague Derek Scissors points out, if Trump opens a second front in his trade war, they will now get hit by the same tax on Mexican products. And there are no alternatives because our other major trading partners – Canada, Japan, Germany and Britain – do not make the same products China and Mexico do.

Indeed, Mexican tariffs could be even more devastating for Americans than those imposed on China. Deutsche Bank estimates the tariffs could raise the average price of automobiles sold in the United States by $1,300. Indeed, U.S. and Mexican auto-supply chains are so deeply integrated that many parts cross the border multiple times before they end up in a finished vehicle – which means they would be hit by tariffs multiple times, compounding costs. Ten million U.S. workers’ jobs depend on this supply chain; tariffs would put those jobs at risk, including those of the “forgotten Americans” in the industrial Midwest whose jobs Trump vowed to protect.

And that’s just one industry. Mexico is the United States’ third-largest trading partner, sending us $346.5 billion in goods in 2018. Escalating tariffs over the coming year amount to a massive tax increase on American businesses and consumers.

Are there other tools Trump might use besides tariffs? Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, suggested “imposing a fee on the billions of dollars of remittances that annually leave the United States to Mexico, which only encourage illegal immigration and don’t help the U.S. economy.” Let’s hope it does not come to that and that Trump cuts a deal and the whole crisis blows over. Because a two-front trade war would be devastating to the U.S. economy. China is our real adversary. Mexico is not.


  1. On June 8, 2019 at 10:58 am,
    David says:

    The problem not addressed remains, why are these people leaving their homes in massive numbers? Why are symptoms treated poorly and the problem s not addressed?

    • On June 8, 2019 at 4:48 pm,
      Big Al says:

      I think that will see Trump try to get these problems addressed by the Mexican leaders.

  2. On June 8, 2019 at 12:29 pm,
    cfs says:

    As corrupt and as incompetent as we may believe the U.S. Government is at many levels, the corruption pales in comparison to that of Hispanic origin countries.

    And then there is the Anglo-Saxon or Puritan work ethics from which the U.S. evolved; just simply superior.
    Let’s face it: diversity and multiculturalism is great in theory, but NOT all cultures are equally effective.

    • On June 8, 2019 at 4:49 pm,
      Big Al says:

      Most folks choose not not believe you final sentence. I personally, not being extremely politically correct, believe it “word by word”.

  3. On June 8, 2019 at 8:48 pm,
    cfs says:

    I’ve always ignored political correctness, and told things as I see them.
    I know I’m not always correct, but accept honest debate, and am prepared to admit I’m wrong.
    However, after driving a car for a couple ofyears with a bullet indentation in the driver’s door (not done when I was in the car) I have learned the lesson of trying to remain mostly anonimous.

    I regret also giving the impression of being racist. I do try to be very tolerant and prepared to give a hand regardless of race or nationality. My best friends here in Sonoma are, in fact, Mexican by birth. But Jose was brought here (illegally) by his parents and volunteered for Vietnam, becoming a seal. That gave him the right to become an American citizen. He’s the right kind of immigrant.

  4. On June 10, 2019 at 5:47 am,
    OOTB Jerry says:

    From Chris V………
    The strength in the US stock market near the end of the week suggests fear of any US collapse or future economic concerns appears to be abated. It is very unlikely the US major indexes would rally as they have on any extreme fear of any major US calamity or economic concerns. A slightly weakening US Dollar and moderately strong US economic data continues to suggest the US stock market may continue to be the repository of funds for foreign investors for many years to come – or until something dramatic changes in the US.

    It is rather simple to understand the capital process that is at work in the global economy at the moment; until foreign market valuations and expectations appear to be opportunistic for future returns, the US Dollar and the US stock market are the most likely targets for foreign investment and safety.

    • On June 10, 2019 at 5:49 am,
      OOTB Jerry says:

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  5. On June 10, 2019 at 6:42 am,
    AJ says:
  6. On June 10, 2019 at 6:58 am,
    OOTB Jerry says:
  7. On June 10, 2019 at 7:36 am,
    OOTB Jerry says:
    • On June 10, 2019 at 7:57 am,
      OOTB Jerry says:

      The real take away…..from the can of worms…..Knowing your dictators…..
      Some authors say that there is a “Deep State” and that it consists of (some undefined elements within) the intelligence services, and of the military, and of the diplomatic corps, of any given dictatorship; but, actually, those employees of the State are merely employees, not the actual governing authority, over that dictatorship.

      The actual Deep State are always the aristocrats, themselves, the people who run the revolving door between ‘the private sector’ (the aristocracy’s corporations) and the government.

      In former times, many of the aristocrats were themselves governing officials (the titled ‘nobility’), but this is no longer common.

      • On June 10, 2019 at 7:59 am,
        OOTB Jerry says:

        A small number, typically less than 100, of these extremely wealthy individuals, are the biggest donors to politicians, and to think tanks, and to other non-profits (these latter being also tax-write-offs to their donors, and so are tax-drains to the general public) that are involved in the formation of the national government’s policies.

        • On June 10, 2019 at 8:01 am,
          OOTB Jerry says:

          Know your enemy…..

  8. On June 10, 2019 at 7:45 am,
    JustTruth says:

    What a can of worms the headline to this article is.

  9. On June 10, 2019 at 8:18 am,
    OOTB Jerry says:

    1ST time in a LOOOOOOONG tIME……….gold silver ratio……….90.25 oz……… of silver for one oz of gold……….

    • On June 10, 2019 at 9:19 am,
      OOTB Jerry says:


  10. On June 10, 2019 at 8:47 am,
    OOTB Jerry says:
    • On June 10, 2019 at 8:50 am,
      OOTB Jerry says:

      They plan on paying for the benefits…….by taxing those without insurance…