Oklahoma is not freezing over any time soon. But, if we find ourselves ice-bound in August, look to June 27 for the first omen. That was the day The Oklahoman ran an editorial under the headline, “Bike maker a casualty in president’s trade war.” Yep, even one of wrongest of right-wing newspapers was acknowledging my position that regular, unconnected Americans are expendable pawns to Republican enrich-the-richest economics.
The editorial was commenting on the Economic Union answering President Trump’s trade war tariffs by raising its tariff on Harley-Davidson from six to 31 percent – with a nod to House Speaker Paul Ryan, who hails from Harley- Davidson’s home state of Wisconsin. The EU tariff will increase Harley prices by about $2,200 per bike in Europe. Faced with being priced out of the European market, HD announced its intentions to build a plant in Europe to try to stay competitive. But, now our president, who precipitated HD’s crisis – and who has investments exporting billions of dollars throughout the world – threatened HD with heavy taxes if it builds the European plant that might keep it profitable and then began campaigning for a foreign bike maker to come to the U.S.
I guess Harley-Davidson is just supposed to take its financial lumps – to the tune of about $100 million a year – for the ego of a president trying to keep our minds off Russian collusion.
The Oklahoman, which supplied the above estimate, quotes Carlos Gutierrez, chairman of the National Foreign Trade Council, as saying U.S. companies would be most impacted by any trade war: “It’s going to hurt the stock market. Even worse, we are going to put people out of work and it is going to spark inflation in our country.” Even before announcing its anti-tariff campaign, the US. Chamber of Commerce estimated $75 billion in American goods could be hit with new foreign tariffs.
As I have mentioned before, Oklahoma farmers could be among the expendable entities discarded by the man they supported so overwhelmingly.
Last month in Politicus, Jason Easley reported “Trump’s trade war is hitting the agricultural Midwest hard as farmers in eight of the top ten soybean producing states that voted for Trump are going to be looking at bankruptcy as they are already being hurt by Trump’s trade war with China…. “China is the number-one soybean importer in the world. And they announced retaliatory tariffs on U.S. soybeans in April. Previously China got 40% of its soy from the United States. In 2017, 57% of all U.S. soybean exports went to China.
“So what’s happened? Soybean prices have already fallen 15% since China announced the tariff, more than a two-year low. And in Iowa, for example, the Des Moines Register estimates the new tariffs could cost soybean farmers in the state $624 million.” And, it’s not just money. ABC reported recently that stress and uncertainty have led to: “Farmers in America are killing themselves in staggering numbers.”
ABC also reports that the tariffs on steel and aluminum will make rebuilding the crumbling American infra-structure more expensive.
I guess I’m the only one impolite enough to point out that among tariffs slapped on China, there was nothing directed toward the sweat-shop clothing industry which supplies the president’s favorite daughter with her products. The Oklahoman cited economist Robert Kroll of Cal-State Northridge to explain the impact of Trump trade policies: “As costs rise, Americans purchase less. Companies start producing less and employ fewer people. As buyers switch to more expensive (and sometimes less efficient) domestic producers, overall productivity growth takes a hit. None of this is good for long-term economic growth.”
(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)