- Tariffs have made everyday goods more expensive by disrupting supply chains, costing Americans over $68 billion.
- Biden can help American businesses recover financially by eliminating tariffs and ending the trade war with China.
- Bill Gerhard is president of the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
The coronavirus pandemic has shaken the lives of families throughout America for nearly a full year. With shutdowns and case numbers still rising in states across the country, many are struggling with long-term unemployment and are unsure of how they will pay their bills and keep their families fed. Now, one of the key challenges facing the new Biden administration is finding ways that they can step in to help.
The most sensible first step would be to eliminate the tariffs that remain from the Trump administration’s misguided trade war with China. Since the Trump administration first began implementing them in 2018 under the guise of standing up to China, these tariffs have served to inflate prices on the everyday goods that Americans need and made it more expensive for them to provide for their families. Unfortunately, these costs have stung consumers even more since the pandemic began last year.
Tariffs are harming American families
Whether families are shopping for school supplies, buying winter clothes for growing children, or simply trying to purchase everyday household goods, the tariffs levied as part of the trade war with China have disrupted supply chains and made it harder for companies to provide necessary goods at affordable prices.
Affected businesses recognize that consumers want the highest quality goods at fair prices, and the former president’s tariffs make meeting those needs harder. Despite claims that the costs of the trade war would fall most heavily on other countries, those costs have translated into higher prices in retail stores and other businesses that Americans count on.
That is because these levies are not being paid by China, they are taxes paid by consumers to the federal government for imported goods. To date, Americans have paid more than $68 billion dollars in tariffs since the trade war began back in 2018.
The Biden administration can help
Thankfully, President Joe Biden is already showing that he sees the need to prioritize China when it comes to trade — his nominee to serve as US Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, has extensive experience litigating Chinese trade conflicts. I am confident that she and President Biden will ultimately acknowledge the devastating impact these tariffs have had on American consumers, and will bring an end to a trade war that is fast approaching its third anniversary.
While the Biden administration recently reimposed tariffs that had been removed in the last days of the Trump presidency, Biden still has an opportunity to provide a much-needed spark for the economy by finally rolling back existing tariffs on imports from China. American consumers are paying the costs of this trade war, and allowing it to carry on would only mean that costs will continue to rise.
Americans are struggling, and the longer Trump’s tariffs remain, the worse the situation will get. President Biden has made it clear he wants to help American families navigate this crisis, and one of the most important ways we can work toward that goal is by eliminating the residual tariffs and bringing this trade war to a close.
Bill Gerhard is president of the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council.